Remote team: a brief instruction of how to create and manage one

30 Apr 2020
Kate, copywriter
Remote is a new black.
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Wonders of working with remote development teams

Here are you — a dev, an HR or a product owner — sitting next to the computer screen. In the room, you are on your own and only the tapping of your keyboard can be heard. On the opposite part of the world/country/city, there are your teammates, also all by themselves. However, although you are so far away from each other, you share the common goal which makes you united — even if it’s a short-term collaboration. Alone together — a phrase that describes the remote working relationships in the best way.

Remote is a new black today, in the times of crisis. Those industries that couldn’t bring their work to the Internet suffer from losses of income. If you are lucky enough, chances are — you already brought your work online. But why does the remote team make you lucky?

1) You have access to global talents as you are not limited by your area of residence.

2) You can hire people according to the qualification you need for your project. Often, in your city devs may not specialize in what you require.

3) You can collaborate with devs from different countries and their hourly rate will differ, which makes it easier to choose a team according to your budget.

4) You save money because there is no need to spend money on office maintenance and other related issues.

5) People spend less time getting ready and commuting if they work from home. That makes them more focused on their work.

Today, because of the quarantine, even those companies that managed in-house teams were forced to go digital and reorganize their people to work distantly. However, chances are — there is a tendency for the number of remote teams to increase. It is more convenient for many as they feel better managing their professional and personal lives at home. Also, social distancing will be a thing for a year or two.

Basic rules of how to manage a remote development team

1) Communicate daily. The less interaction your team has, the more left out each member feels. If it’s your first time going remote, analyze communication tools, project management platforms, and video conference apps. 

2) Solve the issues on the FaceTime session. People perceive information not only verbally but also analyzing the facial expressions and body language. Without the last two, it is harder to feel related. Thus, texting takes more time to solve the problem. 

3) Treat people as not just pictures on the screen, but as your teammates. If you are a leader — ask a question, including not related to the work. It is important especially if your team has worked in-house before because for some people it may be a challenge to lose daily communication all at once. Ask:

  • What has been the most challenging part of your remote work? 
  • Is there enough interaction with your teammates?  
  • Do you feel included in our team’s decisions? 
  • What is the daily routine that helps you to be productive? 
  • What makes you lose your productivity?  
  • How do you feel about being remote for such a long time? 
  • Do you dress up in the morning as you would to the office? 
  • Is there anything I [a leader] can do for you to feel better about working from home? 

4) Establish daily check-ins and stand-ups to organize work. First, it will seem a bit overwhelming for some team members. However, in time they will get used to the fact that at, let’s say, 10 AM they have to say what they were doing yesterday. This way, you will also overcome your fear that “what if they actually don’t work?” 

5) Offer encouragement and support. Remote team lack of communication results in a lack of empathy and understanding and that can be a major pitfall. When you overly criticize, people may start working better today. However, in the long run, they may be overwhelmed with it because tension is growing and then ends in breakdowns. If you don’t want to lose any member of your team — make sure you treat them with support. 

6) Understand the major difficulties people encounter while being remote.

time zone differences

While you can deal with communication difficulties and collaboration issues. You can provide motivation (in words or monetary). However, how can you help people overcome loneliness? Or teach them to unplug after work? Or deal with the distractions they may have at home? Some things you just have to understand. Not all productivity-related issues are your teammates’ fault. The only thing to do is increase their knowledge about these psychological aspects and how to overcome them by webinars, courses, or professional help.

How to build a remote development team?

During hard COVID 19-times and the global crisis has given upon us, there may be a need for outsourcing some aspects of your project to save money and help your workers to not be overwhelmed. Team creation is a special process where you will discover not only unique personalities but also different nations and cultures. You will learn to manage time zones and interminable distances. You will get used to the interesting English language accents. It is an interesting experience, and this is how you should prepare for it. 

Decide the team’s size and the responsibilities of each member. 

  • What do you outsource? Back-end, front-end, or the entire stack?
  • What is your projects’ size? Are you a small, mid-sized or large business?
  • Do you already know the tech stack you want to work with or you need help in choosing?

Having answered it, you will approximately understand how many people you need and where to look for them. However, there is one rule to follow – the bigger the team, the harder it is to control its performance. That’s why the number of the member should not exceed 6 people. You need several devs, a designer, business analyst, project manager, and a QA manager. 

  • The project manager monitors the work of each member and helps them. Usually, it is a person with high tech qualification and leader’s qualities;
  • Devs write your code and arrange your apps’ logical structure and make it work well with the visual part;
  • Designer creates an interface and outlines the navigation;
  • Business analytics gathers requirements from the product owner and explains them to the team;
  • QA manager tests the end product and detects bugs if there are any. 

Hire talented employees

Hiring is not as hard as finding the right candidates if you want to hire each member separately. You can post the job ad on social media and recruiting websites or surf the LinkedIn. To optimize the process and save time looking for outsourcing companies on Clutch and Upwork. They usually have ready-made teams who specialize in different technologies. SapientPro is one of them, by the way. When the client refers to us with the project, we present our teams and have interviews with each member. The team’s size may differ along the process, so if you need one more dev or designer, you won’t need to look for them. 

However, if you want to start a team from scratch, follow these rules:

  1. Create a clear job description with all requirements and offers you have.
  2. Include peers in the interviewing process. Another opinion may matter, and they may notice something you haven’t.
  3. Treat candidates with respect. Value their time and make yourself available to all questions that may emerge. It is a good thing. to tell the results of the interview regardless of the outcome. People want to know even if they were not suitable for the job. 

Communicate

To make the process of development smooth and prevent negative situations, you need to talk a lot about each aspect of your project. Your teammates don’t read minds. Even if you are in the USA and your team in Ukraine, there is a need to establish several days a week to talk about the process over. Usually, outsourcing companies are client-oriented and are available at any time suitable for you. However, if you hire people from different time-zones in your team, making time to talk may be a daunting task. 

However, there is nothing impossible. You only need to….

1) Establish fixed times of meetings and always stick to them. You will create a habit of speaking about every detail which may prevent misunderstanding.

2) Choose a communication platform that fits your needs. If you require an intensified security, go for Signal and Telegram. If you prioritize stand-ups, smooth files exchange, and integrations with project management tools, go for Slack. If you want to have your messenger combined with a video conference tool, go for Microsoft Teams. Or for anything else you find effective for you and each member of your team.

3) Do not be afraid to ask hard questions, like, “Do you have problems?”, “Why do you think you were unable to meet deadlines?”, “Do you feel uncomfortable with our new requirements?”. Also, make sure people know you won’t be judgemental of the truth. This way you may prevent people from overworking and burning out. 

4) Plan your schedule precisely and inform your team about it. Yes, deadlines are unpleasant sometimes. However, if you know the exact time, the task should be completed, it’s easier to organize your work. Also, your team will know when they can refer to you and when you are busy.

5) If you feel highly uncomfortable with the language barrier, include it on your job ad to avoid hiring people who don’t understand what you want from them. 

Communication is the key to your project’s success. Sometimes, leaders do not understand it and think about the end-result only. However, if you want to work with the team on a long-term basis, treat them as people and talk all the issues over. 

Support culture and personal connections

It is harder to build corporate culture when going remote because it requires team-building activities, group communication, and the ability to feel present in the team. However, it’s possible because corporate culture is not only about parties and talks. It is the value you bring to your team members.

You may conduct meetings not related to work, visit the country of your team’s residence, or invite them to yours. You can send them some gifts and accept the ones from them. You can create a set of rules that support the human-way of working, like treating sick leaves and personal issues with support, accepting mistakes, and helping to overcome them together, asking how they feel and what they want to change. People are not robots, and we write about them in our article. 

Reasons to outsource IT services to Ukraine

Statista considered Ukraine to be amongst the most prospective countries to invest in the IT development, with good quality-price ratio, lower time zone inconsistencies (1 Hour Ahead of Most European Countries, 7 Hours Ahead of the US) and professionalism of our devs. According to the Outsourcing journal, we are the first in the quality of services in Eastern Europe. 190 000+ professionals and at least half of them are advanced in their English. The other half – improves their knowledge but still can talk. 

Yes, Ukraine has 200+ Universities, preparing developers to enter the IT world. However, that’s not the only point. Ukraine still has a developing economy and to get something you need to work for it, sometimes even hard… People here value their jobs and each dollar from their income. This way, they don’t want to let their clients down because it is not only their personal failure, it would be a negative picture of the nation. 

Working with clients from other countries, we feel honored to be considered and make it our prior task to work with all responsibility. We are moving towards the west and with each new international experience we grow, and we value it as well. Relationships that are built on responsibility and value are the strongest. 

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