In the age of globalization, it is hard to imagine a company that had never previously considered having a remote team (or at least one employee). We can go back and forth about the pros and cons of remote team management, but one thing remains true- more and more businesses are choosing to trust in remote work practices thanks to the flexibility and cost reduction attributed to outsourcing.
A remote team usually consists of a team leader or a team manager who is responsible for organizing work within the team, distributing the tasks between the members, communicating with the client, overseeing the project progress, and several software engineers who carry out the development process and create software products. It is a common practice that team members are located in different geographic areas, but a recent trend shows that companies prefer to assemble the teams out of professionals located within +/-2-hour timezone difference to ensure enough time for communication.
No matter how promising a remote employee may sound on paper, in reality, it comes with a number of challenges that managers have to face in order to create a productive environment. Challenges such as communication, training, on-boarding, and culture are some of the struggles faced in hiring outsourced or remote workers, but in this blog, we'll provide you with tips and insight on how to overcome these challenges.
How often do people in the same room struggle to understand each other? Now imagine needing to communicate with someone hundreds of miles away. Communication is arguably is the biggest problem when it comes to remote team management.
Even with all the technology that allows us to communicate instantly, team collaboration can be affected negatively by a lack of face-to-face meetings and discussions. Misunderstandings appear more often in emails, rather than in regular dialogue.
Teamwork does heavily rely on collaboration, which means that ongoing communication is the foundation of successful project implementation. It does include communication between both the team members that contribute to the software development process ( team leader/manager) and the customer to get a better understanding of their needs and the problems they are trying to solve.
Solution: Find the best way to stay in touch with your team. It is hard not to go into micromanagement, so it requires a certain degree of trust between the manager and the team. It is important to talk through everything and not leave any details for guessing or hoping that the other person will figure out it.
Communication key to a successful work environment for any team, independent of being remote or not. To make sure that it is working in your favor, finding the right balance of clear communication with concise information is important to make sure that you're creating a successful work environment through communication. The more time you invest in communicating with your team throughout the project, the better your results will be, which will also serve you better in future projects.
Problem: Training and onboarding
Bringing new members to the business or project is already hard as it is. When you are working with a remote team, it can be harder for the team members to learn new procedures because they don’t have the access to watching and learning as their colleagues do in the office.
Getting familiar with the company’s practices usually requires some time and guidance, aside from the actual presence and guidance of the manager in-person can help to speed up the process.
It can be frustrating to rely only on emails or phone calls when you need to learn and have dozens of questions appearing every moment. Currently, digital communication is not an ideal option for the on-boarding process.
Solution: Documenting all the processes in the company and creating guidelines. Writing down as much as you can help to avoid miscommunication, misunderstanding, and guessing. There will always be questions, but you need to be able to provide as much information as possible for the person to sort out all the process.
Being open to supporting and helping the team members during the phases of onboarding is the duty of each manager. When it comes to remote teams, you need to remember that it requires more time and patience to go through all the questions and make sure that there are no doubts left. Creating a foundation based on clarity and understanding will benefit your team in a long-run.
When onboarding a new team member, the person responsible - team leader or manager, should always make sure that the newcomer understands their role, expectations, how their performance will be measured, time management, and general company procedures.
It often happens that, upon joining a new company, people are initially only familiar with their direct manager and HR representative and feel insecure about reaching out to other people in the company for advice or if something is needed. Helping new software engineer get familiar with other people and their responsibilities can greatly ease the onboarding process and allow them to focus more on getting familiar with their own responsibilities and work processes, so that they don’t need to spend time figuring it out on their own.
Problem: Company culture
Strong company culture is an indisputable advantage in business. When people believe in what they are doing, and feel united over a mutual cause, they tend to show better results and increased performance.
For the companies that have employees geographically spread, maintaining a strong company culture can become a real nightmare. Without the physical presence, management struggles to get the company ideas across to the remote teams and as a result may experience a significant drop in motivation and involvement.
It may seem obvious that the professionals who are actively involved in the company life feel more appreciated and valued which helps them to associate themselves with the company more and transit from “working for a company” to “being a part of something bigger”. This creates advocacy that also benefits the company reputation and branding as the employees stand by it and support its ideas and believes.
Solution: Have the team members be involved in company life, there are obstacles and victories. Maintaining constant contact and including them in the decision-making process can help to establish a trustworthy and inclusive environment that will help team member to feel more like a part of the company even though they are working remotely.
Making an effort in creating activities and causes that will interest remote software engineers in taking a part in company life can be incredibly beneficial in the long run, show increased productivity, and lift team’s morale.
To sum up
Managing a remote team can be challenging but can benefit a company immensely it takes a lot of patience, practice, and time to work out the best practices. New systems and workflow need time for implementation, so you’ll need to be prepared that, even if you have created a plan on how to manage a remote team, there may still be challenges in the beginning. Being open to changes, constructive criticism, and trusting your team can help you find the optimal solution and the best way to manage it. You can also read more about 7 problems of remote management, and what you can do instead.
Creating trust between the manager and the team can be much harder given that there are limited chances to have a face-to-face discussion. Just as you need to trust the team, the team needs to have trust in you and know that they can always come to you if there are workflow obstacles.
As a fully remote company, Trio knows about the challenges of remote team management firsthand. Over the years we’ve perfected our daily operations and procedures to minimize the risks of miscommunication and software engineers feeling left out or not being supported during incorporation into our company. As a result, we have an unmatched team of software engineering professionals who have years of collaborative experience with each other and are driven by the work that we do to create topnotch software solutions.
Managing a remote team doesn’t have to be difficult. At Trio, we help small and mid-sized companies to develop custom software by providing them with software engineering teams on demand. By handling all of the the processes of selection and hiring, we strive to allocate to you software engineering teams that match perfectly your company’s needs. Do you want to know more about working with Trio? Tell us about your project.