Working with a remote team is challenging for several reasons. Even if you use the same project management software, keeping everyone on the same page may take time and effort.
However, there are also several benefits to working with a remote development team. You may employ top talent from anywhere globally and are not constrained by location. Check out these top suggestions for making the most of working with a remote team.
These strategies can help you develop a productive and effective remote developer team, from defining expectations to creating trust. This project management tutorial talks about the best practices that should be adhered to when working with remote developers and programmers.
Looking for collaboration or other developer tools for remote programmers? We have a great article on the subject: The Best Tools for Remote Developers.
What are the Challenges of Working with Remote Development Teams?
Communication and collaboration are two of the biggest challenges of working with remote teams. Communication and collaboration is often a challenge because developers and other team members may be spread across geographical distances and separated by time zones.
It can be challenging for team members to build relationships and establish trust. Another challenge is that remote workers often feel isolated and lonely, making it difficult to stay motivated. The most common challenge to working with remote teams is the need for a more direct, face-to-face communication with the team members.
Misunderstandings and miscommunications can cause delays and even derail projects. In addition, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent work schedule when your team is in a different location. You should also know that different time zones can cause many problems.
For example, if someone on your team works during the day while others work at night, it might be difficult for them to collaborate effectively—especially if they’re in different time zones. Another challenge is getting everyone on the same page regarding company culture and values.
When you work remotely with your team members, it can be difficult to know if they share your company’s values or culture, even if you ask them directly about these things (and even then, there might not be enough context).
The first step is ensuring that the people you are working with know the challenges and then deciding how to best address them. Some of the key challenges include the following:
- Communication: It can be hard to keep lines of communication open when your team is spread across the globe.
- Team accountability: If one person does not deliver their part, it can affect everyone else on the team and cause production delays.
- Poor work ethic: Employees need to feel more invested in their work because they aren’t physically present at the office to take pride in what they do or put forth maximum effort all the time.
Tips for Working with Remote Developers
Despite the challenges of working with a remote development team, there are several advantages. Regardless of your location, you can hire the highest-quality talent worldwide. From setting expectations to building trust and being successful, the tips discussed in the following sections will help you create a productive and successful remote team of programmers.
Define Clear Objectives and Goals
Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as goals and objectives are concerned. Defining goals and objectives can be difficult, but everyone must be well aware of what the team is working towards or what it is trying to achieve.
Trying to accomplish too many things at once can lead to confusion and frustration, so focusing on a few key goals is essential.
- Set clear expectations: You should set clear expectations for availability, work hours, project deadlines, communication, scheduled meetings, responding to emails, etc.
- Be realistic: You need to set attainable goals that challenge your team but are still doable. It is imperative to find a balance, because doing too much can lead to burnout.
- Keep track of progress: Make sure you have some way of tracking your team’s progress towards their goals so you can adjust as necessary. This could be as simple as keeping a shared Google doc or using a project management tool like Trello (Read: Trello Review) or Asana (Read: Asana Review).
Example of Asana Project Management Software
Agree on a Communication Schedule
To ensure everyone is on the same page, you should agree on a communication schedule and stick to it. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a communication schedule:
- Make sure everyone knows when and how often they need to check-in.
- Set specific times for team meetings, both regular and ad-hoc.
- Decide who will be responsible for sending updates and distributing information.
- Ensure your schedule is flexible enough to conform to different time zones and schedules.
- Revisit the planned schedule regularly to ensure it works well for everyone involved.
Communicate Clearly and Frequently
Be clear and concise when communicating with your team – this is especially important when writing emails that contain important information. You should also make sure that you are available when people need you – and be aware of your developers’ schedules so they can reach out when they are most likely able to get a response from you.
You must be aware of the time zone of each team member and communicate with them at their convenience so that they can give their full attention to the conversation. If you need to set up a video conference call, do it first thing in the morning or late at night when your team members are awake and available for meetings.
Leverage Technology to Stay Connected and Build Relationships
Keeping in touch with your remote team is easier than ever with the wide selection of collaboration tools available today. Video conferencing, chat platforms, and project management software can help you stay on top of projects and ensure everyone is on the same page. Whether you are in the same office or not, video conferencing can help you to interact with your team members face-to-face and record important meetings or training sessions for later use.
Platforms like Skype, Slack, and Teams are easy to set up and use for regular check-ins or impromptu meetings. You can use platforms like Slack to communicate with your team and clients or other stakeholders.
Periodically bringing your remote team together for some fun virtual team-building activities can go a long way in maintaining morale and keeping everyone on the same page. Not only will it give everyone a much-needed break from work, but it will also help build relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie amongst team members.
We have two great tutorials that can help you find the perfect collaboration tools for your software development team:
- Top Collaboration Tools for Software Developers
- Best Collaboration Tools for Web Developers
- Collaboration Tools for Game Developers
Use the Right Technology and Tools
Working remotely can make it difficult to keep your team members in sync. Here is where the above-mentioned collaboration software comes to the rescue. Make sure the tool is easy to use; this will encourage participation from all parties involved, resulting in better results.
Using tools such as Slack and Asana will ensure that every team member contributes appropriately and communicates effectively. If you have remote employees who need access to a shared document repository, consider using Google Drive or Dropbox Paper instead of email attachments.
You should also ensure that all team members have access to project management software, shared drive space, and other tools necessary to do their job. Additionally, it is imperative that these tools are accessible worldwide and easy to use.
Cloud-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox, Box, pCloud and Google Drive are great tools for organizing your projects. These services make it easy to share your knowledge and expertise with the rest of your team. If you are working on software development projects that involve more than one person, consider using a cloud-based code repository like GitHub or BitBucket instead of emailing individual files back and forth between each other.
We have a Guide to Project Management Software and Tools for Developers to help you pick a good PM solution for your team.
Create a Culture of Transparency
When everyone has access to the same information at all times, people feel included and empowered by what is going on around them. Make sure everyone has access to meetings (either live or recorded), weekly updates, spreadsheets with information about budget and project goals, etc., so that they all know how things are moving ahead.
Final Thoughts on Working with Remote Developers
Although working with a remote software development team or programmer can be fun and extremely rewarding, it can pose several challenges. If you are heading or preparing to lead a remote development team, you should keep the recommendations mentioned here in mind. It will ensure that you are able to manage your remote teams efficiently and your team is productive, and is motivated.