With technology advancing communications, working remotely has become a widely popular practice. According to CNBC, 70% of people around the world work remotely at least once a week. Remote work gives people more flexibility and allows them to find positions that are often not available in their region or where they can be a better fit.

When it comes to working with a remote software engineering team you may face certain challenges, of which productivity is a large one. No one wants to see a team lagging behind on a project because of a lack of supervision or poor organization and communication due to different time zones.

To make sure that your remote team is being productive and meeting the goals in the stipulated time frame, we advise using these 5 tricks that can significantly improve your team’s performance.

Productivity is the metric used to gauge an employee's value. It also is a metric to assess the value of a team as a whole. If you are managing a team that is underperforming, you might wonder if it’s because of the environment or if there is an individual team member that is hindering the process. In most cases, the answer is easy to find. 

Employees who underperform have little to show for or make mistakes that cause tension with their teammates. Other times, the lack of team productivity is a symptom of a larger problem. One that stems from the manager’s inability to cultivate the ideal working environment.

In order to help managers, we want to share five tips that can help boost team productivity. We hope that you are the type of manager that has the intuition to sense whether the team culture needs work or not. If you are still building those skills, then this list will help you. Let’s get started. 

Set priorities and goals

Communicate clearly with your team about the objectives and how they are supposed to be reached, in what time and who is responsible for which tasks. This may sound overused, but set SMART goals - specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related.

By clearly defining how the project should be carried out, and what to prioritize will save time and avoid misunderstandings. It is the team manager's responsibility to communicate any changes in priorities, tasks, and organization with the remote team and making sure that all remote team members are on the same page. 

Assign roles and responsibilities to all team members so that they know exactly what their duties or responsibilities are and how they contribute to the project’s goals. Remote work requires a high level of self-organization for the employees and establishing clear expectations will help to avoid possible confusion about the tasks and deliverables in the future.

Document standard procedures

Avoid wasting time spent on repeating procedures that can be documented. Standardizing procedures by documenting them saves time when you need to onboard a new member or when existing ones need to refresh the information.

Explain step-by-step how to execute tasks. These documents can be modified when necessary, but it will give you a solid ground to work from. Documented standard procedures save time during the onboarding and training process and provide help employees to focus on the more important challenges that are not described there. 

Even though documenting standard procedures for remote teams requires some time, it is a useful tool for team management. To make sure the documentation addresses all necessary questions, it is important to research and plan it out before creation and test and review afterward to see if you need to apply any changes or some questions are not clear or were not covered.

Provide regular feedback

Feedback is key to both the professional development of your team members and steady project development; it also helps team members to evaluate their performance and apply changes if necessary. By providing feedback regularly, you incorporate it in your software development practice, making the evaluation indispensable part of the process.

It’s important to know how to provide and receive feedback in a way that helps to make constructive changes and improve the situation, rather than what feels like a critique and can result in lowering the productivity instead of increasing it.

Feedback can by music to an employees ears if delivered properly. Otherwise, it can be an insult to their hard work and pushes them away from you and the company. In a perfect world, all managers are fit to the task and know how to lead their teams. For those that need some guidance on how to improve productivity and morale, honest feedback is a good place to start. Don’t look at this as a technique. 

Feedback comes in many forms:

  • Encouragement
  • Constructive ideas on how to improve a particular skill or technique
  • Praise for good work

Get your remote team Involved

As your remote team may be spread in various locations, it is important to keep them involved so they don’t feel left out.

Remind them that they are part of a bigger group of people by involving them in the decision making processes, brainstorming, and encourage informal communication to show them that they are an asset to the company, just like any other employee.

It is easy to feel left out when you are not physically present with the rest of your team, but the sense of belonging can help to overcome these feelings and reminds people that the work that is being done is important for the growth and vision of the company.

As a manager, you will want to keep your team involved in meaningful ways with the project. This can be in the form of asking them for feedback on certain aspects of the product they are working on. By involving your team with some of the decision-making, you are in effect aligning them with the product. Of course, their enthusiasm and participation depend on many factors that contribute to a healthy work environment. Ideally, you’d want all of these factors optimized.

Centralize resources and communication

Creating easy access to a source where you keep all the documentation that can be handy in the project is the first step in organizing your remote teamwork. You can save time by keeping documents organized in one place so that your team members don’t need to spend hours trying to find something.

Communication is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to remote work and it’s important that there are means provided for the team to be able to communicate with each other as needed Whether it is a new idea or a concern, it's important to be able to discuss it as soon as possible to avoid any misunderstandings and problems with the workflow.

Making sure that a remote team is working productively can be challenging given that remote work can be spread all over the world. If you want to work with a team of software engineering experts that already are productive and motivated - consider partnering with Trio. We provide companies with on-demand software engineering teams to help them bring their vision to life. Find out more about our teams here.