Remote development has been a part of the industry since its very beginning. If computational and cybernetics experts didn’t share their works on projects with colleagues from far away, software development would probably not exist as an industry.
However, as a legitimate strategy, remote development has emerged fairly recently. And it’s no wonder – managing remote development teams is challenging. But, as new communication technologies emerged in the early 2000s, companies were starting to notice the numerous advantages working with remote programmers could have brought them.
It is also rather beneficial for the developers themselves. In a survey conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, around 33% of software developers preferred to work from home. And with it helping avoid the disease, remote development has become the best and safest option. But that leaves the question of how to make the best out of remote work and how to manage a remote development team to achieve the best results. Let’s take a closer look at the best practices and find out.
Employers are often wary about working with remote team members. While this is sometimes based on myths and misconceptions, it is often connected to personal experiences and fears. Some of the most common concerns touch on the challenges connected to remote work, like:
To properly manage software developers in a remote team, you will have to discuss the tasks and the strategy as a whole with them directly. While communicating through chats and calls might be enough, employing a more direct approach is better.
Seeing an image of a person you’re talking to will humanize the process and create a closer personal connection. However, don’t make it a forceful requirement for the remote workers, and certainly, try not to make random unexpected checks on people.
Making detailed descriptions of tasks while running a remote development team is not enough. Individuals working with you need to know more about the bigger picture, what you aim for with this project, and the vision you are trying to build. This way, your employees will make the best contributions to your product and offer their unique take on it.
People often need to know each other personally before they click professionally and start effectively working together. So, ensure that people are comfortable with each other by encouraging informal communication outside the work setting.
While water-cooler talks are impossible during the remote development process, you can always set away some time for people to take a break, relax, and discuss their lives away from Zoom.
An additional tool you can apply to your remote software development team management are team building events and challenges. Even if you’re located in the US while most of your team is in Ukraine, you can still schedule fun activities for them online.
Focus on activities that are challenging and require teamwork to complete. While, say, skydiving will make for a unique and memorable experience, it will probably not bring the team closer together. Some of the most suitable activities include quest rooms, quizzes, online gaming sessions, etc.
In addition to the methods mentioned above, you can build team spirit if you properly organize the development process. For example, you can manage your remote software development team by pairing them for the task.
Two heads are better than one – so pair the employees in the groups to push them towards communication and cooperation. Change the teams up in time so that everyone knows everyone’s style of thinking. This will also help you get a sense of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.
Employers often see remote work as a perk in and of itself. While it does provide certain flexibility to the employees, it should not be viewed as a favor, as it has benefits and disadvantages for both parties.
Encourage productivity with other perks you can provide. For example, most people will be distracted during the holidays, which will impact their productivity. So, why not let them spend some time Christmas shopping to cool their heads and get back to work with a newfound enthusiasm.
Working with remote development teams from other countries, you must remember that there is a challenge of a language barrier. Even if the developer has advanced knowledge of English, they will most likely still struggle with certain terms or metaphors.
Be conscious about this and avoid using advanced vocabulary and local idioms. Accent can also be a problem – try to speak slowly and clearly to make sure everyone understands you.
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There are a lot of tools that help with managing a remote team of programmers, but none are as important as a code management system. It will help you track any changes made to the source code and determine the contributions each team member has made.
Such a tool is essential for effective cooperation, as it allows for commenting and discussing any solution offered. Furthermore, it will help to evaluate the skills of each contributor and reward particularly good additions to the project.
It will be much easier for you to manage your remote team of developers if you hire individuals with the appropriate skillset. And this not only concerns the pure tech skill you will need for your project.
People in your remote team need to have effective communication skills, be independent, and have an efficient time management system. They should also be oriented towards constant learning and be able to work under pressure.
Organize your project management approach at the earliest stages possible, namely during the onboarding process of new developers. You can use onboarding training to set up proper expectations and make sure that the person can deliver on them.
Development companies often have established procedures that work well for them, but might seem foreign to people from the outside. Making a comprehensible guide to such procedures is a way of how to manage remote developers on your team effectively.
In addition, you need to make sure to explain what you’re trying to achieve with this particular project. Without a proper understanding of the goals for the project and what their work will entail, the developers won’t be able to do their job right.
Micromanagement is a popular tactic in an office setting. Middle managers love to enjoy their power and look over the shoulder of each employee to make sure they are not spending too much time on Instagram or Reddit.
Micromanagement is a sign of distrust and disrespect that will turn off any established specialist in the field. Focus on encouragement and growth rather than complete control over each action the developer commits.
There is no harm in over-explaining what you mean. At worst, you might come off as mildly annoying. However, there might be a lot of harm if the person actually didn’t understand you.
Repeat your points multiple times, or even make people repeat them back to you. The cost of a simple misunderstanding is too high to leave it up to chance. However, it is also up to you to be consistent about your goals and accept the fault if the communication issue was on your end.
If the developers work in different time zones, make sure they have at least a couple of hours when they can share their problems and achievements and ask each other certain questions. The further the people are, the harder it will be, but it is definitely an essential part of the process.
If you can’t make an overlap work for the whole team, ask a person to stay awake a bit longer to make the communication work. Make this messenger position interchangeable and give the person responsible some leeway the next day.
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Visual information will grab the attention and be remembered by your team much better than any spoken information they receive. So, try to use visual cues to illustrate your point, and you’ll be able to get it across much more effectively.
This does not mean that you need to prepare a PowerPoint presentation for each meeting. Even a passing use of illustrations and images will create an associative link and help with information retention.
People make mistakes, and their lives are often complicated. While this should not put the whole project at risk, certain leeway and forgiveness should be in place. A simple act of compassion might result in increased team spirit and loyalty.
Managing remote teams, you might hear some unique stories of success and failure. It is important to remember that you’re working with individuals, and they often need a personal approach to build a solid team.
Make sure they understand your vision as early as possible. Create quality products and build successful software with experts from all over the world!
EPAM Anywhere Business provides a direct communication channel between the business and developers. This allows effective cooperation between the team members and cultivates a trusting and friendly work environment.
If you need to find a team of professionals for your project, we’re here to help you! Contact us right away, and we’ll assist you with choosing a remote team for any type of product you’re working on. Get a precise estimate, schedule your development and allocate resources accordingly.