Tips For A Smooth Transition To Remote Development Teams

Smooth Transition To Remote Development Teams

A 2021 study showed that more than 97% of employees said they would prefer to work remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their careers.

Remote work has become mainstream and developers are leading the charge. While this movement ultimately is a positive for both organizations and developers, it doesn’t come without its challenges. 

Develop Remote Work Policies

Developing remote work policies is essential to outline team expectations and keep everyone working consistently towards the goals.

While policies may vary depending on the size of the development team, the project scope, and the deliverables, there are some things that will be common to any development project including:

  • Availability: A clear definition of what is expected for business hours and when team members need to be available.
  • Productivity: Expectations for work completion, including how you will track and measure performance
  • Communication: Do you require daily check-ins or other scheduled meetings? Everyone should meet the desired frequency and manner of communications required.

This is especially critical when your remote development team is involved in delivering your product or service to customers.

For example, if your company sells product configuration and implementation services to customers where engineer-to-order is required so the SaaS application is customized for their needs then having a remote development team who understands the requirements and communicates effectively is crucial. 

You also need to clarify the tools and procedures for getting the job done efficiently, such as:

  • Collaboration and communication: What platforms and tools will be used for collaboration?
  • Data Management: Which tools will be used for storing and sharing?
  • Security: Will you deploy network automation to control outside developers access to your environment?

Without these policies in place for remote workers and the right tools for them to do the job, it can be difficult for you to manage and team members to function efficiently.

Establishing Communication Channels

Teams working remotely say the biggest change from office work is how they collaborate and communicate.

Establishing Communication Channels

Besides setting expectations, you need to establish the communication channels you will use. Communicating and collaborating should not be a chore for team members.

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Consider using real-time engagement tools, such as Slack or Teams so that work can be divided by projects and tasks.

Email can be a great tool, but it’s not always the best option when you need an easy way to communicate back and forth.

So much communication among teams working remotely happens by messaging and email.

Short texts may be short on context. It’s impossible to pick up non-verbal communication if you’re not seeing how people react.

Make sure everyone has the ability to handle video conferencing. Nothing beats face-to-face communication especially when you are trying to express the nuances of a project.

While there’s a universal dislike for meetings, moving to remote development doesn’t mean you should ditch meetings.

It’s important for people to have shared experiences and understand team goals to work together efficiently.

Practice Pro-Active Project Management

When teams are working remotely, there’s an even greater emphasis on project management.

There’s no more dropping by someone’s desk to remind them about things. It takes a proactive approach to keep everyone organized.

Cloud-based management tools let everyone access files and information. Basecamp and Trello boards are embraced by many for project management, although you can use checklists and spreadsheets to accomplish the same thing.

Make sure any tool you use can easily be updated online so that everyone will have access to the most current version.

Don’t rely on emailing documents that become static as soon as they are downloaded. Information can quickly become dated.

Because the are fewer opportunities for spontaneous communication, an organized workflow that keeps everyone in the loop is essential.

Manage Productivity

97% of remote workers say they feel more productive when working remotely.

While there may be distractions working from home, developers report fewer distractions than working in an office environment.

That’s why most remote development teams are focused more on deliverables than time tracking.

If you are concerned about keeping everyone on task and tracking the hours, there are time tracking tools, such as Timesheets, Timedoctor, Toggl Track, and Cerebro  available online.

You may also want to use time tracking tools beyond monitoring work hours. Knowing how long particular tasks take can help you plan more efficiently as projects develop.

Use Agile Development Strategies

Whether you’re working as a group on a project, writing code, or developing an app, there’s often a high degree of interaction necessary to assure pieces and modules work together properly. This can mean iteration, testing, and rework.

Use Agile Development Strategies

Adopting an agile methodology — whether you are using in-house resources, freelancers, offshore teams, or contractors — can foster collaboration using self-organized teams that operate cross-function.

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By employing scrums, you create a process framework that provides guard rails for what must be accomplished.

Short development cycles (sprints) are created to manage specific project phases and tasks.

Agile strategies can speed up development work and foster collaboration.

Keep Your Remote Development Team Engaged

One of the most difficult jobs managers of remote teams have is keeping their distributed workforce engaged.

Many organizations are finding it a difficult task to develop a shared company culture when working remotely.

It takes a proactive approach to develop a team, including such tactics as:

  • Regular one-on-one and team interactions
  • Social interaction with team members
  • Training sessions, brainstorming, and collaboration sessions
  • Encouraging health and wellness
  • Articulating company culture and goals often

Practice Empathy

It takes an empathetic manager to help employees deal with the remote work environment. This means recognizing that everyone is different.

Some people prefer working alone. Others crave social interaction as part of their process. Some people want regular interaction and feedback. Others just want to get the job done.

Helping your team manage a smooth transition to remote development requires team leaders to get to know their workers so they can tailor a unique approach to manage and motivate each team member.

When people are working remotely, their work and life have blended in new ways. Leaders need to recognize that change in the way work is being done daily.

Creating Efficient Remote Teams

Embracing remote work is opening up new employment opportunities for workers and giving employers access to highly-skilled developers that don’t happen to live in your area.

In today’s global business environment, it makes it easier to find the people you need with the right skills. It also allows for more diversity across work groups.

While it will take some work on behalf of team leaders to create efficient teams working remotely, the payoffs can be huge.