Even when we are going through times that force many of us to stay home, the world is still adjusting to the idea of remote work. Luckily, among all fields, software development companies are the ones that have been trying this model out for a while now. What we have learned is promising. We are talking about top-notch product teams: highly effective, organized, and happier people. What’s the secret?
Not only do we have to find people of trust that can work with autonomy, but also tools that help us bridge the long-distance challenge. Relationships are the real contest here. When it comes to mastering communications within remote teams, these are some solutions we may find of great use:
- Community chats
This does not only involve the software (Slack, Teams, etc.) but also your crusade to keep everyone engaged. Craft a plan and choose the tool that best fits. What are you expecting people to share? What channels can you already think of? Start some conversations yourself to encourage others.
- Virtual meetings
Even when you can figure out some stuff through another channel, choose face to face interaction. For some dynamics, virtual meetings are inevitable, while others will just enrich in this way. Schedule regular meetings on Zoom, or Hangouts to discuss specific concerns, projects, or just to create space for conversations. Frequency and accessibility are two key points you should have into account.
- Cloud repository
While some teams may prefer Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, others might choose to also implement a project management system, besides email. Cloud repositories are meant to provide accessibility from anywhere at any time to everyone. They are really helpful to keep everything aligned and handle unique documents with their historic versions. What is best for your team? It’s not a matter of guessing, just ask your people what they find more suitable to their needs.
For bonding a team together and achieving a sense of community, you have to make it personal: messages won’t just be work-related but also about anything that culturally fits your organization. The goal is to virtually design your office environment through communications.
Choose your own framework
But how do you work on your culture in a long-distance scheme?
First stage: defining an initial framework
Creating a framework will help people get organized and to know how they have to respond, at least at first. For instance:
- Define “available hours”. This doesn’t mean people cannot work on a different schedule, but it sets boundaries for reaching out, especially when it comes to nearshore software outsourcing. People have to respond during available hours, they are not required to do it out of that timetable.
- Set up protocols to face urgent issues. When you hire dedicated software development teams you’re expecting them to work at demand. People in your team should know how to respond or how to reach out when it’s mandatory to solve a problem asap.
- Implement some practices like the ones Scrum proposes: fixed daily meetings, fixed product processes with several touchpoints for planning, interaction, and feedback.
Once everything is running smoothly within your own framework, it’s time to move on to a second stage: release control.
Second stage: total freedom for your teams
Your role as a manager is to provide the tools and methodologies and step out of their way.
Everyone should work when they feel more productive and they shouldn’t feel pressure if they want to make different proposals. Empower your team to recreate their own processes, time frames, and organization. Give them space to improve the framework you’ve provided. This will help people get more involved, working also towards that strong sense of community you’re looking for.
Whether you have experience managing your remote team or you were just trying to freshen up things, be aware you have to work on your remote teams’ management framework on a continuous improvement basis, this will never be a one-time job. Based on your company’s culture it will take less or more to find your team’s own recipe, and it will never be permanent.