How to manage a remote tech team: Tips & tricks
Working remotely is more than just staying in your pajamas and taking a few calls; it reduces stress, lowers absenteeism and helps employees have a higher morale. At the same time, hiring talent remotely allows for reducing costs, getting more experienced software developers, thus leading to faster and better product development.
In 2018, working remotely is not just for a chosen few. Many employees stated that being able to work remotely would be a crucial part of their decision when choosing a new employer. Additionally, according to PGI, more than 80% of employees report that working remotely reduces stress, lowers absenteeism and helps them have a higher morale.
For the managers, on the other hand, hiring talent remotely allows for reducing costs, getting more experienced software developers, thus leading to faster and better product development. However, how do you effectively manage a remote tech team so you could maximize the success of the project? From my experience working in an Angular development company, I would like to share five steps that will ensure higher productivity, ROI and employee satisfaction of your remote tech team.
1. Choose the right tools
Make sure you start off with the right toolset so everyone, no matter whether they live in the US or Tanzania, would be able to take part in the working process and be able to see the workflow. You should choose your communication tools, making sure you are always reachable and meeting could be held appropriately. You can opt out for Skype, Slack, get a private room on Zoom, Webex or GoToMeeting.
For project management, you can use Trello, Asana and Jira if you’re following an agile methodology, which I would strongly advise you to do. You could also use tools to reward your employees for their accomplishments and keep track of their birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates by using WooBoard and Awesome Boss.
For your file management needs, I would strongly recommend using a shared service like Dropbox or Google Drive, possibly also One Hub. Also, do use GitHub/BitBucket for code repository and make sure that you create and are the owner of the said repository.
2. Have a clear process
Now that you are done with the app installations, we can move forward to establishing a clear process. You need to set a workflow which allows for little to no miscommunication and bottlenecks, optimized work by doing as much automation as possible and using each and every employee’s time in the most productive way.
In order to achieve this, you need to first set a methodology that will be followed – Scrum, Kanban or something crafted to your particular needs. Next, you should define the communication style the team will follow ( Call me whenever you have a question.; Text colleagues via Slack if you need help.; Everyone should try to figure it out on their own, and e-mail me only in emergencies. )
Also, you will need to have a clear definition of the roles within the team and their direct responsibilities. Afterwards, everyone should contribute to a place where all the “knowledge” would be held, so you and other team members could have access to everything that has happened or is happening in the project.
3. Get close to the people in the team
Before switching to work mode during meetings take a few minutes to talk a bit more informally to your colleagues. Small talk is a must when bonding with the team and it helps to get to know each other a bit better. Making video calls from time to time is a must and you could even switch on your camera sometimes “by accident” so people could get a sense of you.
Asking about their day, an important event in their life that you know is coming or how their family is could go a long way. Additionally, you could choose a topic which your entire team could discuss for a while like news around Brexit or the climate changes. This way you get to see how each one of you thinks and later distribute tasks and moderate teamwork in a more effective manner.
Also, you get to establish a connection with the team which will inevitably lead to a more trusting environment. From my experience, trust could be one of the leading factors regarding project success when developed by a remote team.
4. Establish transparency
Following the same line of thought, in order to maximize trust within the team, you need to make sure that you establish transparency. First of all, your example matters most in a team, so you need to start by setting transparent business goals, sharing your own tasks and agenda and when possible, even introducing some personal information about your life so that people could follow your example.
Getting the developers and other tech team members to know key facts about the business, competitors, how decisions are made and why a certain approach is chosen for a specific problem might go a long way as their understanding of the business leads to greater ROI. This is due to the fact that you will soon be talking in the same language, building a community that is open and honest towards their tasks and responsibilities.
5. Make time for your team
Due to the remote factor sometimes the “human” interaction might start to slip. You always need to have in mind that there is a real person sitting across from you and shouldn’t underestimate empathy and appreciation. Show that you support their achievements and try to help them in reaching their goals.
Make sure you establish a point of contact available 24/7 like a WhatsApp channel, where they could find support on a matter almost immediately, thus helping them feel they are supported and they needn’t slay dragons on their own.
Finally, you need to not underestimate personal contact. From experience, getting together a couple of times a year could result in much higher productivity and greater satisfaction.