The growing need for software engineers paired with Covid-19 has given rise to remote development teams. Now more than ever, businesses and startups from G7 countries are leveraging remote work to their advantage by hiring tech talent from around the world.
Leading a development team from anywhere is not easy, but managing a remote software development team is even more challenging. In order to succeed in this era of remote work, you need to get ready for change and innovation, because it’s here to stay!
In this article, we will share seven tips for successfully managing a remote software development team.
Tip 1: Improve Communication
For a remote team, the most important issue is communication. It’s difficult to schedule meetings and work with people from different time zones. Make sure that you have a strict schedule, organized workflow, and your team stays up-to-date with everything. We emphasize the importance of stand-up meetings. They should be short, relevant, and regular.
Also, facial impressions are everything in a conversation and context conveys more meaning than the actual words. When you’re texting or are even on call, your tone cannot precisely convey the message. When working with a remote development team, have lots of facetime. Face-to-face meetings add a human touch to the otherwise extremely technical and to-the-point conversation.
Tip 2: Utilize Remote Communication and Project Management Tools
Technology has made life easier for everyone. Utilizing the right tools like Trello, Zoom, and Slack can help you efficiently structure your workflow.
Here are a few remote work tools that can make things easier for your team:
Trello: Trello is one of the simplest and free project management software for managing remote teams. It allows you to create different boards for various projects and use lists and cards to manage tasks. You can add descriptions, and assign cards (i.e. tasks) to your team members and even collaborate via comments. It’s available on the web, iOS, and Android.
Github: For developers, Github is the holy grail used by over 50 million developers worldwide. It’s a free code hosting platform for team collaboration and version control. On Github, you can host your application code, review, and manage projects. It’s available for both Windows and macOS.
Slack: Slack is another communication platform that is widely used by development teams. It’s an excellent platform to create various channels and dedicated spaces where your team can collaborate and communicate with each other. You can even communicate with certain colleagues without having to engage the whole team over direct messages and private channels. It’s available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Google Drive: Google Drive has gained quite a lot of popularity over the last decade, and Google Drive is one of the main driving factors. Developers frequently use Drive to share and store documents on the cloud without having to worry about backup and physical storage. It’s highly secure and available on the web, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Zoom: Zoom is a popular video-conferencing application that you can use to collaborate with your team members. Zoom allows up to 10,000 participants, which makes the app a popular choice for live meetings and video seminars. It’s available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
Tip 3: Focus on Long-term Goals
To increase productivity in remote development teams, focus on long-term goals instead of the day-to-day tasks. There are a lot of ways you can do that. For instance, to avoid impediments, introduce secondary tasks.
Developers often get stuck on a problem and can waste time pondering over it. Having multiple tasks in the pipeline can help them focus on the next one and come back to the issue at another time. On the other hand, remote workers don’t exactly have a strict 9 to 5 job. They’re more independent and goal-oriented and must be managed accordingly. According to a survey by CoSo Cloud, 77% of the employees said that they’re more productive when working from home.
Instead of tracking their every move and day-to-day tasks, communicate the pain points and your project goals. When you give them a problem instead of the solutions, they will be more creative. It’s about time that we think outside the box instead of micromanaging our teams.
Tip 4: Take Advantage of Different time Zones
A good remote software development team is self-reliant and independent. They know how to handle work and organize everything. Alongside all these advantages of a remote team, time management can be a real issue. However, it’s up to you whether you let it be an obstacle or use it to your advantage.
In a remote software development team, we have several members including developers, testers, and QAs (quality assurance). On the other hand, some developers are working on the front-end, while others are working on the back-end or APIs.
You can achieve around-the-clock efficiency by letting different developers take over various aspects of the project. If your developer is ahead of your timezone, then it gives you enough time to assess the work and provide hands-on feedback on the same day. Whereas, if you’re ahead of your developer’s timezone, then it gives you enough time to prepare everything for the next day!
And that’s just one example of how you can take advantage of timezones. So, don’t let timezones scare you, rather use them to your advantage.
Tip 5: Reward Your Developers
When you’re a team lead, your developers look up to you (and not just for the next task). At the start and end of each meeting, don’t forget to give your team compliments. Make sure to explain what exactly you like about the course of the project. Constructive praise will let them know that they’re moving in the right direction.
Compliments and praises are one thing, but never underestimate the value of small presents. Show your appreciation by sending your team gifts like t-shirts, mugs, and badges with your company logo on them. Bonuses are another way to improve your team’s morale. When the morale is high, they work harder and better than ever. Consider the bonuses as an investment to the project and a way of showing your appreciation to the developers.
Tip 6: Schedule is Everything
For remote teams, scheduling is a challenge. If you’re working from somewhere in the UK and your team is in Bucharest, they’re basically about two hours ahead of you. On the other hand, for Silicon Valley companies with off-shore offices in India, the problem can be even worse.
Here two things can help, flexible hours and overlapping schedules, luckily, most developers and tech enthusiasts are night owls. They work odd hours and starting their day at noon is not exactly a bad idea for them.
For maximum productivity, you need to reserve a few hours a day for the meetings, pair programming, scrum, and Q&A sessions. Other than that, let the developers take charge of their work hours. Whether they like to work in the morning or the dead of the night, let them be!
Tip 7: Don’t Let Distance Take Over The Team Spirit
Being part of a team that you’ve never met is very different from having colleagues that you meet every day. It’s difficult to bond with a remote team, but be careful of creating a ‘we’ vs. ‘them’ mentality. Treat them as if they’re part of your team and just happen to work from afar.
Here are a few things to avoid when you’re working with both remote and an in-house team:
- Don’t treat the remote team any different from the in-house team and that includes using the word “them” and “us”.
- Make sure that the remote team is included in all meetings, work, and otherwise.
- Facetime regularly, and try to connect with the team members.
Managing a Remote Software Development Team: Conclusion
Remote development teams have been around for a while but Covid-19 has made the world realize the importance of diversity and flexibility. The secret to managing a remote software development team is simple, make your company culture inclusive and diverse. Developers (remote and otherwise) are an asset to your company. Only by realizing their importance and appreciating their work can you successfully manage a remote team.
Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, what matters is whether you gave it your best shot!
Noor-ul-Anam Ruqayya is a software engineer that also has a passion for writing well-researched, SEO-optimized, and engaging content for a wide range of industries. She has been writing long-form content for the talent acquisition industry since 2020 and has created multiple top-ranking articles.
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