Software Development Success in a Hybrid Environment

COVID-19 has transformed how we work with its remote and hybrid work cultures.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a shift to remote work for software development teams and personnel occupying non-essential roles. To facilitate the transition, companies have implemented various digital solutions, such as Zoom for virtual conferences, Slack for water-cooler conversations and appreciation, and robust virtual project management systems to ensure the continuation of their operations.

Even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses, primarily located in Silicon Valley, had already begun to establish offshore software development teams, meaning that the transition to working remotely was not an entirely new concept in this particular sector.

Despite the introduction of vaccines, not all businesses have returned to their pre-pandemic office settings. Instead, many companies have embraced alternative work structures and have allowed their employees to work remotely or in flexible settings. This shift has allowed employees to better manage their work-life balance, while still fulfilling the expectations of their employers.

According to the findings of a survey of 5,000 respondents conducted by WFH Research, a majority of 73 percent expressed a desire for a hybrid work culture which would allow them more flexibility and freedom with regards to their work location and working hours.

In recent times, businesses have become aware of the potential of creating a remote workforce from all over the world, and thus have shifted to a hybrid work culture. Taking into account the lessons that have been learned during the pandemic, these companies are looking to the future and utilising a combination of office-based and remote working to ensure the continued success of their organisation.

This transition from a distributed workforce to a hybrid model may place undue strain on a company’s digital transformation.

Juan Hoyos, Chief Commercial Officer at Cinq North America, has put forth strategies that managers can employ to help their software development teams excel in a hybrid working environment. He highlights the importance of clear communication and collaboration, as well as the need to create a sense of trust and belonging among employees, in order to ensure that their teams can work effectively together while remote. Additionally, Mr. Hoyos advises that managers should consider implementing tools and processes that promote transparency, create a safe space for feedback, and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect. With these strategies in place, managers can be sure that their software development teams will be able to thrive even in a hybrid work environment.

Create a highly inclusive hybrid workplace culture.

When working with a hybrid workforce, it is critical to concentrate your efforts on creating a welcoming work environment.

All personnel, regardless of whether they are based in the office or work remotely, should be given equal access to the resources they require to carry out their tasks, interact with customers, and contact their managers and the Human Resources department. This should include access to the necessary technologies and other tools.

It is easy to become complacent when managing a hybrid workforce, where some employees are based in the office, and others are remote. It is all too common for impromptu and informal meetings to take place in the office, with decisions being made quickly. However, this can inadvertently lead to a sense of disconnect and alienation among remote employees, which is highly undesirable.

We’ve discovered that the best way to foster an inclusive hybrid work culture is to conduct all-virtual or all-in-person client meetings, says Hoyos.

It is essential to guarantee that all staff members, regardless of their physical presence in the workplace, have access to the same range of training and career development possibilities. It is important to ensure that all employees are given the same opportunities to further their professional growth and enhance their skillset. By providing employees with equal access to these resources, organisations demonstrate their commitment to fostering an environment of inclusivity and growth.

To ensure all team members have the opportunity to become acquainted with one another, it is important to plan a well-structured onboarding process. As an example, one could take a similar approach to a client meeting, and create a mostly virtual onboarding process for software engineers. This would enable a comfortable, yet efficient environment in which team members can get to know each other.

Collaboration, brainstorming, and knowledge sharing

Employees are accustomed to having impromptu meetings and physical brainstorming sessions, however, since moving out of the office, there has been a substantial effect on collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and ultimately, the level of innovation in software development teams. This transition has had an indirect yet undeniable influence on the production of creative and forward-thinking ideas.

As engineering managers, it is our responsibility to ensure that our teams are collaborating effectively, even when working remotely. To bridge the gap between hybrid work cultures and innovation, we should leverage the latest remote collaboration tools to encourage interaction and communication among all team members. Such tools will help to keep the team connected, foster collaboration, and ensure that ideas can flow freely. Ultimately, this will enable us to work together more productively and help our teams to achieve their maximum potential.

Software development teams can use a variety of remote communication tools for everything from daily syncs to check-ins with clients and coworkers.

In an office environment, it is common for employees to approach their colleagues’ desks in order to seek clarification on tasks or assignments. This type of direct communication can help to build and strengthen relationships between coworkers, thus fostering a more supportive and collaborative workplace.

In a work environment that is a hybrid of remote and in-person work, it may not always be feasible for technical leaders to walk up to their coworker’s desk. However, these leaders should still encourage their teams to engage in spontaneous conversations and “instant” meetings with their colleagues, as if they were in the office. This encourages collaboration and strengthens the bonds between team members.

Instead of asking a coworker to clarify a complex question via email or Slack, request a quick 5-minute video call with your developers.

Engineering managers must empower their teams to interact, share, and collaborate efficiently in order for a hybrid work culture to thrive.

Workplace culture hybrid: Have faith in your team members

A recent survey conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed that 34% of employees viewed their managers as lacking confidence in their capabilities. Moreover, an even greater proportion of respondents reported that their managers questioned their abilities to carry out their duties and put pressure on them to remain online in order to demonstrate their worth.

This lack of trust has a significant impact on the productivity and performance of the software development team.

As engineers and developers increasingly begin to work remotely, it is important for engineering managers to take into account the various time zones that their team members may be operating in. Additionally, each individual may have different peak productivity hours that they are most productive during. Therefore, it is paramount that engineering managers avoid attempting to micromanage their remote team members, as this could potentially disrupt their productivity or even cause feelings of frustration.

Create an authority culture in which developers are held accountable for the outcome rather than the activity.

It is essential to foster an environment of openness and trust between members of a hybrid team. Without these essential components, team members may not feel valued or motivated to collaborate, making it difficult to achieve innovation in software development. Therefore, it is important to ensure that communication is maintained and that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute.

Synopsis

Businesses are increasingly leveraging the global talent pool by creating software development teams comprised of developers sourced from all around the world, based on their specialised skills rather than proximity to the office. To best capitalise on the digital transformation that is taking place, organisations should consider implementing a hybrid work culture as they begin transitioning back to the workplace. This approach offers the best of both worlds, providing the flexibility of remote working with the productivity, collaboration and culture associated with in-person office environments.

You can use the strategies discussed in this blog to ensure that your software development team remains productive in a hybrid work environment.

Hiring capable and experienced remote software developers is required to build cutting-edge technologies with a hybrid team.

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