8 tips for managing remote software development teams in 2021
February 1, 2021
The pandemic has forced many workers around the world to shift from the office environment to working from home. In trying to limit the spread of the virus, tech companies like Twitter, Google or Microsoft have encouraged employees to stay at home. Many companies have closed offices and set up remote collaboration, using digital tools to keep in touch, monitor work and communicate efficiently online.
According to a Workhuman survey, only a third of the US labor force were working remotely before the pandemic, during which the number of remote working days has doubled and continues to increase. Many workers and teams may feel uneasy adjusting to new realities, but, according to a global poll, 32% prefer to work from home.
In this article, we will consider 8 valuable work-from-home tips for remote software development teams and managers.
- Manage time wisely
- Have daily check-ins
- Establish sustainable communication
- Set tasks clearly and make sure your team understands you
- Encourage workers to organize their work space
- Keep up the company culture
- Focus on the results
- Give your team more flexibility to get the work done
How businesses aiming at remote cooperation may win
The diversity of remote teams fosters more unique ideas and solutions and allows senior staff to estimate the development process from diverse viewpoints, ultimately resulting in financial gains. According to Gartner, about 75% of businesses exceeded their financial plans in 2020 while working with diverse decision-makers in global teams.
Financial success comes along with other benefits. Let’s look at the key benefits of having remote software development teams.
- Reduced costs. Reduced costs are perhaps the greatest benefit of remote work. Remote-work statistics say that businesses could save about $11,000 per year for each half-time remote employee. This springs from cutting office maintenance, electricity usage, support staff salaries and everything else needed to create a productive office environment.
- Recruiting talent from all over the world. Talent acquisition remains one of the largest pain points in the world of software engineering. By hiring teams remotely, employers choose from a larger pool of talent and are able to pick the best specialists for their projects.
- Work/life balance opportunities. Remote work is not only a great way to spend more time with family and loved ones. It also allows employees to work at a time when they are most productive. Buffer reveals that 32% of global poll respondents name flexible schedule as the primary advantage of remote working, allowing them to choose the most convenient hours for working. This type of working environment benefits both employees and employers.
- More efficient teams hired in different regions. Many companies try to maintain offices in different countries and regions. Even in the absence of an office, hiring a whole team in a remote region, depending on project requirements, might help bypass time differences and other issues.
- Eco-friendly remote work. With staff working remotely, employers could make a substantial contribution to environmental protection. Remote work has a positive impact on the environment, as it leads to decreased emissions (no more morning commute), reduced paper usage, energy and space consumption. In addition, the company gets to improve its image as eco-friendly.
8 tips to increase the productivity of remote software development teams
Remote work has become more than a trend. Several managing tricks might help keep productivity and team communication high.
This list of tips could be helpful in successfully setting up and managing remote teams.
1. Manage time wisely
Working remotely, it is useful for employees to set themselves a schedule, and stick to it. It is a great way to avoid procrastination and get the work done. It’s also handy to get the team synchronized on the one hand and create positive individual goals on the other. MIT researchers suggest taking regular 15-minute breaks every 75–90 minutes, which is vital in helping maintain high work efficiency and balance.
2. Have daily check-ins
Members of remote software development teams should stay in touch and coordinate progress on project parts. Daily check-ins help keep the community active and connected. Employees would be able to easily track progress, get timely help in resolving issues, and avoid certain mistakes in the future. These meetings may take 5 to 30 minutes, depending on goals and format. This is also a great way to create an environment of trust and empathy among team members.
3. Establish sustainable communication
Communication might be the hardest thing in managing remote software development teams, and keeping everyone in sync is mandatory. Different time zones, individual working tempo, linguistic diversity and other factors could complicate communication. Equip your remote employees with communication tools so they can function effectively, and teach them how to use these efficiently. E.g. if after numerous emails the work isn’t moving ahead, they should know it’s time to switch to video conferencing.
The array of tools to choose from is quite vast: Google and Microsoft offer complete solutions (Google Chat/Meet, Microsoft Teams), but other good options are also available: Slack, Zoom, Trello, etc.
4. Set tasks clearly and make sure your team understands you
Managers are unable to physically approach remote employees for a chat, so it is vital to formulate tasks precisely. Tasks must be set clearly and managers should make sure the team understands them. It is good practice to include a brief description of each task and its scope, and to identify and allocate responsibilities. Specifying deadlines and hours of work for each task is critical as well, and for tasks with no clear deadlines, giving a specific due date will keep employees working on the task.
5. Encourage workers to organize their work space
Generally, 80% of what people perceive or experience correlates with their visual environment. Having a disorganized workspace may also affect productivity, as a well-organized space helps reduce stress. Also, having an isolated workspace free from distractions helps workers concentrate and meet deadlines. This is something that managers should encourage. It helps to send an occasional friendly reminder to those employees who still haven’t got their home office set up properly.
6. Keep up the company culture
Keeping the human touch within remote teams is crucial. One Glassdoor survey shows that good company culture is more important than salary for 56% of US employees. To this end, companies can provide remote opportunities for continuous learning, while managers may encourage their staff to connect socially. Many employees need to feel like they’re part of a team to be productive. If possible, make it a regular thing for your teams to gather for cultural or other activities available remotely, practice team-building exercises, etc.
7. Focus on the results
Remote teams are difficult to supervise, but it is not necessary to control the way employees complete their work. Managers should trust their teams and give them some freedom in that regard. The better option is to focus on the results and give credit to remote employees for their contribution to achieving project goals.
8. Give your team more flexibility to get the work done
Once the trust between the employer and a remote team is built, it’s useful to give employees more flexibility in how they work. For example, employees should be free to choose the working hours they find most convenient to get the work done efficiently and deliver results. According to Buffer, 40% of remote workers prefer having a flexible schedule, and companies known for offering this perk could attract more talent. As companies and employees get more used to remote work, it will be easier for employers and remote teams to manage expectations.
Any change takes time to get used to, and everyone’s specific work situation and team dynamics are different. Companies can’t expect remote software development teams to adjust their lives overnight, but with the simple techniques listed in this article, changes could be made more smoothly and eventually result in mutually beneficial cooperation. The key is to maintain consistency working together as a group, foster mutual trust, be flexible, meet deadlines and deliver value.
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