Remote work has many ingredients to make professionals more productive. They Don’t have to worry about the commute to the office and have more control over their work hours.
Many employers are also now fans of telework after experiencing its benefits during the lockdown. As a result, the majority has decided to support the WFH model.
Developers are among those professionals who prefer remote work. For example, Terminal’s State of Remote Engineering survey reported that 75% of software engineers want a remote work option.
So, if you’re not already supporting remote work arrangements, you should consider setting it up. That’s because your developers may favor work elsewhere if it can let them work from home.
However, telework work doesn’t guarantee productivity. You can only improve your remote team’s performance by employing exemplary management practices. This article will look at things you can do to build a productive team of remote developers.
Table of Contents
Hire Competent Developers
The remote work environment requires developers to be skilled in self-management. So, this quality should be one of your considerations during the recruitment phase. Having someone that can independently find solutions and think critically will help make things easier.
They will be able to follow briefs and instructions to the latter, and you won’t have to repeat yourself often.
So, while interviewing developers, please find out how much remote work experience they have. Then, look at their resumes to determine if they have handled roles that required self-management.
Define Your Work Processes
You need a defined work process to coordinate your team. Your developers should understand what it takes to work in your organization and every process touchpoint. Roles should be defined and understood, and communication should be transparent.
Each project must have well-defined milestones, objectives, and workflow procedures. This way, everyone knows what to do, and there’s minimal chaos. You can also track changes and know what to adjust when issues arise, saving time and allowing developers to focus on their jobs.
Developers require a level of autonomy and independence to do their jobs comfortably. They don’t expect managers to constantly supervise and control their work. This ability to manage their process is one of the reasons developers prefer working from home.
So, constantly breathing down their neck will only frustrate and discourage them, reducing performance and productivity.
Micromanagement also stifles creativity and motivation. Developers might feel reluctant to make bold moves to fix significant issues if they believe you need to sign off on every minor process.
So, trust them to do their jobs without frequently checking in. You should focus on the result of their work instead of their work process.
To avoid micromanagement, make sure your briefs and expectations are clear. This way, you can judge their work by its outcome. You should also delegate tasks more efficiently to ensure you’re not constantly worried about delays. For example, assign tasks to team members according to their skills and competence.
Software engineering is a tasking profession and requires workers to be in good mental and physical shape. Challenging projects can easily overwhelm developers and cause burnout if work schedules and demands are too much to handle.
According to a Haystack Analytics report, 83% of developers are burned out. The reasons for this trend include unclear targets and goals, high workload, and inefficient processes.
So, make sure you track each worker’s workload and take steps to reduce it once you notice they’re getting overworked.
Define your work processes and ensure everyone understands their roles, the project procedures, and who to contact for what.
Set clear goals and expectations to give team members a clear sense of direction.
What’s more, recommend and organize wellness programs for team members to improve their wellbeing. You should also promote social engagements and encourage your staff to spend more time with friends and family.
Use the Right Tools
Managing distributed teams with developers scattered across time zones can be logistically challenging. That’s because development projects consist of many moving parts and require efficient collaboration. As a result, remote workers need the right platforms and tools to collaborate and work productively.
As it turns out, there are different tools ideal for remote development teams. However, you must choose the right solutions for your team. While selecting the appropriate tools can seem challenging, you’ll know what you want when you ask questions like:
- What communication channels does my team lack?
- How does my team share data?
- How often does the team collaborate?
- What kind of projects do we handle?
So what kind of tools do you need?
Collaboration and Project Management Tools
From the first project draft to finalizing the product and everything in between, developers must liaise with different departments and professionals.
That is why collaboration and project management tools are among the must-have resources for remote developers. They allow teams to share ideas, suggestions, and even workflow to boost collective productivity.
These tools enable instant messaging, screen sharing, file-sharing and storage, and even video calling to foster communication and cooperation.
Teams can coordinate, be on the same page, trace and tackle errors together, and share feedback.
Which collaboration tools should you use? Here are the top 5.
It’s almost impossible to mention development without GitHub. It is the most-used cloud-based collaboration tool for developers. It is open-source and offers features that make life easier for remote development teams. GitHub helps you manage Git repositories, a version control platform for source code history tracking.
The code review feature allows project managers and developers to check out new visual code changes, review new code, and use automated status checks to merge changes.
GitHub also allows you to know when contributors adjust the repository and will enable you to track what people are working on.
Jira is well-known in the development community for its test case management and bug-tracking features. However, it’s also a rounded project management tool that can help teams track workflow, manage tasks, and view project progress.
In addition, your team doesn’t have to leave Jira if they prefer Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban Boards.
Slack is a messaging application that fosters team communication. Its video and audio calls, instant messaging, file sharing, and channel features allow teams to coordinate and communicate synchronously.
Trello is another well-known project management solution. It allows teams to visualize project progress and streamline workflows using agile methodologies. Managers can also organize projects into boards and efficiently track tasks using the tool.
InVision makes prototyping for remote developers easy. Its interactive design tools and whiteboards facilitate smart coordination, feedback, and problem-free hand-offs between design and development teams.
Time-tracking applications help you track billable hours, calculate payroll, and monitor how much time developers spend on specific tasks. Time trackers also allow you to track productivity, assign jobs efficiently, and identify each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
Apart from software programs, you can also use spreadsheets to track time. For example, you can view a weekly time tracking spreadsheet to determine which developer needs to take a break and who needs more work.
Communication is one of the basic components of teamwork, which is critical for remote developers. Therefore, you have to ensure your developers have a great rapport and don’t hesitate to communicate with each other.
As it turns out, communication can suffer in virtual workplaces since every remote employee works in isolation. However, you can organize regular meetings, leverage collaboration tools, and schedule check-ins to encourage communication.
You should motivate team members to reach out to colleagues and their managers whenever they need clarification on any matter.
In addition, virtual social activities can also improve team spirit. For example, you can host informal game sessions and office trivia from time to time.
Also, adopting different communication channels is recommended. For example, developers could grow tired of daily Zoom meetings. So, use other platforms, from messaging apps to emails, to communicate.
What’s more, tell your developers they’re free to reach out to you to clarify any issue or make any complaint. This way, there’s less confusion about the work process.
Collect Team Feedback
Feedback allows you to understand the team’s pain points and concerns and take steps to resolve these issues. Your developers can only work effectively when they don’t have to deal with roadblocks and work barriers.
So, while it’s vital to be open to communication, you should also conduct feedback exercises.
Schedule one-on-one interviews to gather personal concerns and identify where each developer is struggling. Then, organize company-wide anonymous surveys that allow workers to communicate their thoughts and reservations freely.
Make sure you report your findings to your workers and take steps to resolve every issue raised.
Improving remote employee efficiency is the dream for many managers, and you can achieve it using the right policies and practices. Remember to make work comfortable, reward hard work, and provide good appraisals and training.