Managing a remote software development team can be tricky, and it requires some dedication and effort. The rewards of doing it well, however, can be substantial and it’s not as complicated as companies might think.
In a post-pandemic world, almost every organization has dealt with remote work relationships, including large IT firms. Some of them like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) reacted favorably to the changes, recognizing the potential benefits for both the companies and their employees.
We talked to Boris Sabotovich, project and delivery expert at global software development provider EPAM Anywhere Business. In this interview, he shares the keys to easily set up a work pipeline and control ongoing projects with minimal effort, among other key aspects of remote team working.
What Is The Best Place To Start To Manage A Remote Team Successfully?
Having a clearly defined policy for all employees is a must, whether they are remote or in-house. With a policy in place, every team member knows what to do, how to do it, and what your expectations as a manager are.
It provides objective standards that apply to every employee equally and guarantees delivery quality. In my experience, creating a policy can help companies build a strong and efficient remote team that works smoothly and reliably.
One Of The Biggest Company Fears Is The Lack Of Contact And Communication. What Is The Best Way To Overcome This?
It may seem like an outdated management tool but regular meetings, when used properly, can bring your team together and improve both the morale and the quality of the team’s work.
The key to get the best out of regular meetings is planning in advance. So, be clear about the agenda and your expectations beforehand, so everyone knows what will be covered and how they should participate.
To engage your staff, divide your meetings into several parts: a welcome message, a meeting agenda, personal reports, and planning for future tasks. In addition to dividing up the meeting in a logical way, have team members take turns providing information –this helps everyone feel involved in the process and invested in the successful outcome.
Also, remember to be clear about your communication channels. Everyone on your team, remote or not, should know who to speak with about specific issues; this can improve overall team communication and keep your meetings focused.
And don’t forget to create opportunities for casual conversation and team bonding during meetings. When people are working remotely, this will not happen by itself.
Can Management Tools Make A Difference When Managing A Remote Team?
You can’t keep all of the information that you need in your head at all times, and you shouldn’t! Managers always have a lot on their plate and you need to consider how to make the best use of your time. So, a key rule: let technology help you, as carefully-chosen can help your entire team.
Management software is so key because it can consolidate all relevant information and make it accessible 24/7 to everyone, to accommodate different time-zones as necessary. It can be used to make sure that your goals are clear, and to keep track of everyone’s progress, so that you know at a glance if your project is on target, or if resources need to be reallocated.
Since every team member has access to the project management application, it can also enhance collaboration because everyone is aware of project status, task completion, and what is expected of them next. Updating your projects timely helps to keep everyone on task and on target.
Technology Can Have A Paradoxical Effect: It Can Bring Together As Well As Separate Team Members. How To Counter This?
Remote workers may face feelings of disconnection or isolation. So, it’s important that you help your people to stay connected using regular meetings, online resources, chat threads, and video calls. Written communications are inherently dry and lacking in emotional context. Be mindful of using an upbeat, positive tone.
Team member recognition is also important in the virtual world, where remote employees can feel distant from in-house teams. Pointing out successes, both large and small, during the course of a project can remind everyone that you appreciate how important their contribution to the process is. Keeping your environment collegial and supportive for everyone is important for successful work.
Technical Issues Can Certainly Derail A Company’s Remote Team Management Efforts. What Is Your Take On This?
For your team, it is essential to have the appropriate technology, connectivity and all the necessary resources to do their work productively. By guaranteeing these conditions, you can generate trust and a sense of belonging.
The Workplace Survey 2019 study identified connectivity as one of the five keys to meeting employee expectations. Improving connectivity is a challenge for employers given the following statistics I gathered:
- 52% of remote workers use a company-supplied computer for work outside the office;
- 39% use a virtual private network (VPN);
- 36% use cloud file management tools;
- 34% use instant messaging services;
- 13% use groupware or business collaboration software.
When you work with a remote support team, it is vitally important that they are connected working from the same cloud system. This allows the entire team to access up-to-date information and provide a positive customer experience. In addition, it is much more secure and reliable than having the information fragmented.
A sales CRM in the cloud will allow you to improve the customer experience, by managing the relationship and improving the team experience, because it makes work easier and increases productivity.
What Would Be Your Last Tip For Remote Team Management?
Having fun in between your work deadlines is vital for a strong team. Even though you’re geographically far away from each other, you can still have coffee, chat, and learn more about the team. One option is to create a separate “fun chat” where team members can share viral memes, favorite movie recommendations, and awesome songs.
Remember that even this casual conversation still needs to be work-appropriate, though, so everyone should keep in mind the need to follow workplace communication rules.
In summary, following these few simple guidelines for managing remote teams will make your job easier, and it probably requires only minor changes in your overall work management process. That way, you can effectively lead your remote team and obtain the best results, while offering your clients a quality service.