Remote work used to be something that was reserved for a select few. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many firms had to resort to remote work or risk extended closures. Work as we know it may never be the same.
While remote work might be a plus for certain workers like those who have to care for young children, many organizations have had difficulty adapting.
A significant reason remote work could be challenging for organizations is the inherent isolation and lack of serendipitous conversations. When first making the change, it can harm morale and productivity if not dealt with quickly.
Tips On How To Work Effectively With Remote Software Developers
This article will share some tips on how the software team can have a smoother remote working transition and things to avoid when working with a remote software team.
1. Don’t Neglect Relationship Building
If you cannot build a healthy work relationship with your staff, it will affect your overall leadership and the company’s productivity.
When there is a healthy relationship between the employer and the employees, communication will become more comfortable, conflicts get resolved faster, and goals are achieved more quickly.
Having a healthy working relationship is often undermined by the employers and the employees – which in turn hurts the firm. This is even more apparent when you have expensive employees like software developers.
According to West Saade in his article on ‘The Most Common Reason Leadership Fails: Relationships Fail’: “When I see poorly led organizations, it is invariable that I see poor relationships running rampant. Usually, the top leadership is modeling this culture. I see them not forming strong personal relationships.”
Many employers have the misconception that it’s not necessary to like their employees before they can work with them. But, the question is, how will you progress when you aren’t pleased with each other?
The employer must connect with the employees to ensure they enjoy working for/with them.
It’s vital to build a relationship with your employees to attain your goals – get to know your employees personally, don’t hide behind a professional mask at all times. Let them know that you see them as humans, and you’ll be amazed at the additional effort they put in.
2. Don’t Fall Victim To Under-Communication
Unfortunately, one of the downsides to working with remote teams is a lack of communication. Communication in the workplace isn’t limited to handing out tasks and making sure people are working.
It goes well beyond that and includes sharing the company values, company goals, and how each contributor fits into the bigger picture. In an office, there are many opportunities to communicate this kind of information.
When you’re collaborating with your software team through a project management system like Asana, there are few opportunities to have candid conversations. Everything is focused on the work.
Communication with remote team members requires more effort and consideration than physical teams. It’s essential to regularly check in on members of your team/employees and use tools that allow easier conversation.
You could set up a weekly discussion for the team to discuss work and life. You can have regular one-on-one calls with team members and engage in regular team-building activities.
This constant stream of communication will make it easier to communicate important information like projects and goals and more intangible information like values and expectations.
3. Avoid Micromanagement
If you micromanage when working with remote teams, you die. Not a literal death, but the productivity and creativity of your team will go out the window.
The leadership team at UsefulPDF has a hands-off approach to managing their team members. The thinking was that after you’ve trained team members in the core aspects of organizational processes, you need to get out of their way so they can show you their expertise.
It can be understandable for leaders to monitor them and inundate them with instructions because you don’t know if they’re truly working or not. However, this often has an adverse effect on the employees.
Below Are Useful Tips To Help You Avoid Micromanaging:
- Set expectations from the onset of the project. When everyone knows what’s expected, it’s harder to go off on a tangent and reduces the need for micromanagement. Also, try to avoid being too authoritative. If it works for your organization, take a collaborative approach with your software team. You hired them for their expertise so there is nothing wrong with leaning on them.
- Use a Shared Calendar to keep everyone up-to-date on their tasks and the tasks of those they’re working with. You get bonus points if you use a tool that shows dependencies like a Gantt chart.
- Create an update system that everyone unanimously supports. You may have to be strict about enforcing it in the beginning but it’s worth it because it lets you know what everyone is doing and whether your help or direction is truly needed.
- Set aside time for yourself to enable you to focus on the big picture. Doing business remotely could be a bit frustrating for business owners, as you’d have the constant urge to approve everything about work by yourself. However, this could send the wrong signal to your employees.
At times, when working with remote teams, you need to step back to focus on the big picture of your business. Delegate small tasks to trusted team members to handle on your behalf – this will create more time for you to manage your growing business.
4. Don’t Skimp On Training
An essential part of working with remote teams is continuous training. Often, training takes a back seat to task management and work deadlines. However, this is a huge mistake as team members won’t maximize their potential if there is no training.
Create continuous online training and video meetups at regular intervals. The best training has an interactive component so look for ways to get your team members to participate.
5. Don’t Create Complicated Reporting Procedures
Reporting is something that most people dislike because it’s usually not part of their core skillset. With that being said, it’s still important because it allows you to get a clear picture of progress over time.
Creating a complicated reporting procedure makes it even more difficult to do something that most of your software developers don’t like. The end result is poor compliance, lack of engagement with the work, or the reporting process takes up an unreasonable amount of time.
When creating your reporting procedures, think about the few metrics that best quantifies the work your developers are doing. Try to attach those metrics to real business outcomes but avoid vanity stats like the amount of code written.
6. Avoid Forcing People To Work On Your Schedule And Focus On Results Instead
Forcing employees to work on your schedule could be a bit too demanding especially if they’re in a different time zone. Working with remote teams requires the need to understand your team’s needs and figure out a time where most people will be online so you can communicate in real-time.
That doesn’t mean they have to be working, it just means they should be available. Shift the focus from simply showing up to delivering the work that was assigned to them.
When people know they can work in whatever way best suits them, they’ll be more likely to optimize their working schedule to deliver the maximum amount of impact.
According to a report from Oberlo.com, “remote work statistics from a recent survey showed that more than half of the US workforce, or 56.8%, are working remotely, at least part of the time. Of them, 41.8% are fully remote.”
Remote work is here to stay whether we like it or not. If you’re managing a software development team, take the tips in this article to heart, it can be the difference between success and failure.