In software development and IT in general, working remotely is getting more and more common. If you want to hire the best software developers you need to be prepared for the fact that most of them would want to work remotely. Why? Because the work that you do counts, not the place you’re in at the moment. It’s also down to the changes in the market. Top software house employers offer their staff remote work, underlining the values of work life balance, family life and being flexible. If you don’t want to be left behind, read today’s post where we share our tips and tricks regarding managing a remote team.
Why go remote?
Consider the overwhelming popularity of digital inter-office communication tools: even when working in the office, people communicate more through Slack or other platforms than face to face. It really opens the door for remote workers who can still function with the team.
At the same time, you’ll be giving your employees a lot of freedom which means they’ll be happy and appreciative towards your company.
Some team leaders or business owners may face the problem of ‘controlling’ or ‘supervising’ the work of remote employees. How can one overcome this fear of control? Simply by developing and promoting a company culture based on mutual trust. If you trust your remote employees and provide them with certain tools, there’s nothing to worry about. Moreover, your remote employees will feel obligated to do the best job they possibly can.
Necessary tools for remote teams
For daily communication the most obvious choice is Slack. It was made especially for team collaboration. It offers direct and group messages and also chat channels for specific topics. In addition to that, Slack integrates with lots of different tools i.e. Google Drive, Trello, GitHub. Last but not least, Slack’s mobile app can be used on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even iWatch. That way any remote worker can get involved in discussion literally wherever they are.
For more of a ‘human’ contact, Skype is always a good option if you want to speak instead of type and also organize a video/conference call. Skype also provides screen sharing which can be very useful.
For managing tasks there are plenty of tools on the market. Some of the most popular ones are Jira, Trello, Asana. They allow the whole team to organize their work - step by step.
Tasks can be divided into days and planned hourly. Members can also communicate within those tools, attach files and conveniently cooperate. The supervisor or team leader can easily monitor the work progress, another plus. Remember that someone needs to be responsible for choosing the right methodology and setting up the workflow.
As for time tracking - to be honest, we don’t think that every team needs time tracking applications. But sometimes it’s the client’s demand for the developers to use these types of tools. Especially when the work is based on hourly rate, not a fixed price. Toggl is a free one and it works perfectly.
If you’re managing a remote team of developers, a pair programming tool is definitely something worth using. The basic one is Screenhero. Although there are other programs with more features, we think this one’s good to begin with.
The good thing about having software developers on board is the fact that they can create their own tools. So if you feel there’s something missing on the market, you guys can launch your own app and with a little bit of luck, you can try to sell it too!
Regular meetings unite the team
An important aspect of being a leader of any team is uniting team members. The most obvious way of integrating employees is having regular meetings. Quick daily updates make everyone more involved, they also require some sort of preparation. During daily meetings, you can share information about work progress, discuss any problems and together try to find solutions. Team members can get involved in each other’s tasks, motivate each other and bounce off their ideas. Depending on the location of every team member, you should set a time for daily meetings.
Difficulties appear when team members are located in different time zones but you can work it out. It would probably be best to set the time for mornings, at the beginning of everyone’s workday. Try to avoid meetings in the middle of the day, because some people prefer working ‘in a zone’ without any disturbances. However, if you find daily meetings too frequent, try having them weekly for a longer period of time f.e. one hour. It’ll give everyone a chance to speak up and share their thoughts more in-depth.
Trying to figure out how to connect multiple people from all over the world at the same time? Use Google Hangouts or Skype for video chat (works for up to 10 people).
Be a leader
With being a leader comes a lot of responsibility. First of all, you need to set a good example for your co-workers. We’ve touched upon that, but let’s say it again: trust. In order to build trust between you and your team, you need to be transparent, set the rules from the very beginning and tell them what you expect.
Remote workers need to be independent and responsible but without any instructions, you’ll be left with chaos. You need to be giving out tasks and helping your team to plan their work efficiently.
Remember to set up deadlines to avoid any misunderstandings. Clear communication is the key to your remote team’s success.