Creators Working From Afar
In view of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, many businesses and educational establishments have advocated for their developers to work remotely. Although it is beneficial to have suitable remote working protocols and training in place prior to any sudden change in circumstances, this is not always achievable in an emergency. Even with limited time for preparation, managers can implement research-based tactics to enhance the engagement and output of remote developers.
It is not sufficient to simply implement a video conferencing system for your company’s remote developers and assume that work will continue as normal. Managers should be mindful of the potential risks of social isolation that could be experienced by a dispersed workforce. If employees are used to seeing their co-workers or customers in person on a daily basis, loneliness can easily set in. Additionally, there can be implications for focus, collaboration and innovation due to the remote working culture. Whilst it may be regarded as a difficult topic to discuss, it is essential that we recognise and tackle the challenges that remote development can bring, in order to ensure that the team remains healthy, content and effective.
Managers accustomed to conventional approaches may find it difficult to adjust to the challenge of effectively managing remote employees. This shift away from monitoring desk time and activity levels can seem daunting. Furthermore, remote workers may experience a period of uncertainty as they adjust to the new way of working. Despite its increasing popularity, not everyone has experienced remote working yet, and it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages before making the switch.
Without the capacity to monitor every individual in a shared working environment, managers can achieve success by concentrating on results and whether they meet the quality standards. Additionally, being ready to experiment with new technologies and collaboration tools can be very beneficial.
Managers need to be open to re-examining how they lead teams in order to ensure a successful transition to virtual working, regardless of whether it is a long-term solution or a reactive measure in the face of a crisis. They must also gain an understanding of the expectations of the telecommuting sector and be prepared to learn through trial and error.
To get you started, here are 6 helpful guidelines for coordinating with remote developers on your next project:
Establish goals quickly and update them often.At the start of a project, it is essential to set standards, put restrictions in place and cover the fundamentals. Managers can help ensure there is no confusion by displaying a friendly attitude and giving detailed information about key tasks, milestones and objectives. It is important to establish when everyone in the team is available and accessible, and to have their contact details to hand in case of any queries.
Managers should ensure that their remote workers are kept up to date with any relevant policies and changes in personnel or positions, as well as any corporate achievements. Furthermore, they should adhere to the company’s policies regarding working hours; for instance, responding to emails and messages outside of normal working hours.
It is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout, especially when there is no clear distinction between the workplace and home life. There may be a sudden change in the work environment which can be confusing for employees, so it is essential to keep objectives in mind. Keeping remote developers up to date with new goals or criteria will help ensure effective communication, clarify any misunderstandings, and increase productivity.
Organizing regular meetings for all staff is an option, but it is also possible to arrange them whenever is most suitable. Ultimately, it is your decision, however it is important to ensure that all remote workers are aware of their duties and expectations. As this is a non-standard working environment, it is crucial that each step is clearly defined.
Be sure you regularly monitor your staff’s development and output.Please ask your employees to provide a work schedule which outlines the tasks they are responsible for and the deadlines by which they must be completed. This will help to reduce any worries you may have, and ensure that your team have the necessary tools to complete their work. Please remember not to assume that someone is not working just because they are not physically present; trust the process.
It is recommended to hold regular check-ins with remote developers. This could involve one-to-one meetings if the employees work independently or a group call if their tasks require close collaboration. It is essential that these calls are scheduled in a predictable manner so that remote engineers have the opportunity to ask questions and be certain that they will be responded to.
- Increase Online Conversation and Social Interactions by Removing Physical Barriers
As a manager, providing opportunities for remote engineers to connect with each other, such as through informal conversations about topics unrelated to work, can be highly beneficial. This is especially important for newly hired remote engineers and those who have been abruptly disconnected from the office environment.
Setting aside time at the beginning of team discussions for non-work-related topics is an effective way to foster social interaction. Zomato parties and virtual office parties, where ‘comfort gifts’ may be delivered in advance, are further options to boost morale. These activities may appear to be forced or artificial to some, however, project leaders have reported that they help to reduce feelings of isolation and create a sense of community. It is important for managers to communicate with their remote staff, as it helps to keep them informed of upcoming deadlines, resources, issues, and expectations such as work hours.
It is important to consider how your team may respond to different types of communication, and to find a balance between too much communication and not enough. There is some flexibility in how often employees should be kept in contact with. The most straightforward way to manage remote staff is to ask them how they prefer to be managed. This way, managers can stay updated on what their workers need to be productive when working from home. However, it is essential that key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important to the company and workers are measured and monitored. It is important to bear in mind that if you supervise employees too strictly, they may start to lose trust in you.
Focus on the outcomes rather than the processesIn the remote workstyle, where many people are juggling work and family commitments, it is important to give developers the freedom to complete tasks in the most efficient and effective manner for them.
The manager should consider forgoing the lengthy clearance process in order to facilitate the 10:00 am meeting today. Utilising virtual tools where possible can help ensure a convenient time for both parties. Allowing teams some freedom in the way they approach their work can help them to form successful strategies. It is important to focus on the results of the tasks rather than the process. Clear expectations should be communicated to staff by the manager.
Open up Channels for TeamworkManagement may wish to keep a communal record of their individual team members’ actions in order to monitor progress. This is a beneficial activity which can be performed while employees are in the office, and it will help team leaders to adjust the objectives and duties of developers during this transitional period. It is important to establish ground rules for the virtual team, such as responding to emails from colleagues in a timely manner. If you are busy and a colleague attempts to contact you, send a short text to confirm that you will return the call.
- Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Stress Among Your Employees
Managers need to be equipped with the necessary guidance to facilitate conversations with remote developers about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes topics such as new work schedules, job security, career advancement opportunities, staffing effects and any stress they may be experiencing in the workplace. Direct conversations and indirect observations should be used to gain insights into the issues and concerns of remote developers, while making it clear to them that their contributions are valued.
Managers, particularly in the context of a rapid transition to remote working, must be aware of tension, listen to the anxieties and worries of developers, and be able to empathize with their situation. If a newly hired remote developer appears to be struggling but is not exhibiting signs of distress, it may be beneficial to ask them how they are finding the remote working environment. By posing a broad inquiry such as, “How is this remote work scenario working out so far?”, it is possible to gain valuable insight. Once the inquiry has been posed, it is important to listen carefully to the employee’s response and to repeat it back to them to ensure that their message has been understood. We must ensure that the worries and fears of remote developers are prioritized.
Businesses rely heavily on productivity, and issues with output can occur when remote developers experience stress or anxiety. The sudden move to remote working has forced individuals to adapt quickly, with mental health issues becoming more visible in the workplace. It is essential to learn about these issues and provide assistance where possible. Research indicates that employees often turn to their managers for support during times of difficulty, so it is important that managers are aware of their own security and anxiety levels and how these can be perceived by their employees.
Managers must establish sufficient lines of communication to support and listen to their remote developers, and to provide constructive and empowering feedback during challenging times. Managing developers located remotely may be a new challenge for your management team. Connecting remote employees while maintaining effective internal communication is a key issue for the management team to address.
Workforce growth should be reflective of the current market. If you are responsible for managing remote developers, it is important to stay abreast of their progress. With the correct understanding of how to manage remote engineers, a mutually beneficial relationship can be established. If you and your team are willing to put in additional effort, remote work may become a viable option for your company. Hopefully, the remote working culture you cultivate with these 6 suggestions for managing remote workers will be beneficial for both you and your remote engineers.