As the COVID-19 seizes the people’s tranquility, disrupts communities and economies, businesses have to adapt to the new practices, a.k.a. remote teamwork.
The good news is that IT companies practice it for many years (decades) already and have elaborated efficient techniques on managing, creating and sustaining remote distributed offshore teams.
However, the current situation raises another concern – is it efficient anyway?
Good news – yes, it works, and it is efficient. Most (IT) management tools can be accessed through a web interface, especially those for the public cloud. In the industry related to hi-tech both engineers and managers are not bound to their desks. Wherever you work at the end of the day it is the result that is needed. In other words – do not panic, we know the clues and apply them daily. In most cases, the remote is the style of work we live in.
Frankly speaking, software engineers may not see each other for many months, however, this does not prevent bringing our customers the software product they need.
Still, if the massive panic grabbed you and working with a remote team drives you mad, our team of experts
are sharing advice on how to weather the disruption.
№1. Being remote and building global remote teams
The approach to creation (global) remote teams is similar to the one applied in creation of in-house teams. They operate by similar rules. However, there is an important nuance I would advise to remember – mentality. Try to unite team members and a leader of one mentality. Remember also to find a good facilitator who will become a connecting-link between the team members, teams of other mentality and the top-level decision-makers.
Be prepared to manage differences! Due to the self-governing and diverse nature of the setting, it is imperative to be prepared for unique challenges. Distributed teams involve people from many cultures in different locations, therefore there is a need to establish trust and prevent possible cultural conflicts. Team diversity is both enriching and challenging; it requires degree of sensitivity from the managers to prevent and overcome cultural misunderstanding.
№2. Being remote and building rapport with remote distributed teams
Every person needs to be heard and understood. For this reason, one-to-one meetings are equally essential as team meetings. In the current circumstances of social isolation and panic, it is really great to run some online coffee breaks to discuss some outside of work things.
Plan virtual coffee/water cooler breaks: take every opportunity to make up for lack of time together in the office. While video meetings help, having these casual opportunities to connect are important, too.
№3. Being remote and building a united though remote development culture
• Develop documentation (in the process of creation you need to understand how you work, what values you follow and where you want to be)
• Establish onboarding workshops
• Demand rules compliance
• Run internal audits and based on them introduce changes
It is best when your team has a common goal visible for every member of the team and meticulously designed dashboard allowing every member of the team to monitor team progress towards team goals. Also, regular discussion about this progress.
№4. Being remote and leveraging global hours
If you need to provide something like 24/7 support, it makes sense to build the team that will cover work hours across all time zones. Otherwise you just need to have at least 1-2 overlap of work hours between all team members.
Time difference can be quite convenient for a project. For example, a team in Australia finishes their tasks and goes home, by this time it is morning in Ukraine, and you can continue the work where Australian team left it. When it is time for Ukrainians to go home, it is the morning in California. Thus, you have a team working 24 hours a day.
Schedule meetings and work hours in blocks. When you’re working from home, there can be a lot of distractions like family, friends, and chores around the house. Having your day broken up by meetings can make it hard to get any actual work done. Think about setting up some “no meetings” calendar blocks for all of your employees. Planning and sticking to that firm schedule should make it easier for everyone in the team.
№5. Being remote and minimizing hand-offs and wait times
It is crucially important to set interaction and communication rules among remote team members. For example, if a team member leaves its workplace to have lunch, change the online status to “away” or “not available” take it as a rule. It would be even better if an employee specifies when he/she is available again. It helps team members to plan the workload and the approximate time of receiving feedback.
I would also advise sticking to usual offline routines just make them online. I mean daily sync-ups and continue enjoying luncheons together. One of our customers introduced e-lunches to keep the team united.
№6. Being remote and motivating remote individuals
Almost the same as we motivate employee in the collocated teams. Remote employees have some specific but in general it is the same.
Say “thank you” as often as you can. Distinguish good work. Same things as with “in-office” work basically.
№7. Being remote and setting up communication
To avoid confusion between you and your team, in the terms of quarantine, you’ll need err on the side of over-communicating. Regularly check in with colleagues on phone calls, during video chats, or through your office’s direct messaging system.
It’s important to have all communication with video that allows to take into account non-verbal behavior. This information helps you to navigate and guide the discussion. All company communication channels should be available for all team members.
Effective communication can become a challenging for remote team, task however it can be easily set. To build an effective communication across the teams, I would advise to use:
– Communication plan which outlines tools used and schedule of regular meetings
– Team registry which has all team members information with their location and contact details specified
– Clear description of each team member responsibilities, skill matrix and domain knowledge matrix
– Follow communication rules and prepare to meetings
– All the information above must be easily accessed in known by the team collaboration space.
Why does the remote approach work?
It works because the way people cooperate today is changing. We buy online, we communicate online, we do more and more things in virtual environment. Based on it, IT industry is definitely a leader in distributed and remote work.
Why not? It is 2020 and in the current situation there is no other choice 😊. On the other hand, the practice of remote work was adopted long ago and followed by many companies. I am managing distributed and remote team since 2005, if there were not hype, I would not have known this is an issue.
Let’s wrap it all up.
A remote team, also known as a virtual, distributed or dispersed team, is an increasingly popular method of gathering a group of talented individuals to collaborate on a specific task. It helps complete and maintain projects in a geographically distributed manner.
For many companies a distributed team introduces long awaited agility. It creates greater flexibility and an opportunity to utilize the expertise of team members that are not local. This approach also provides participants with the possibility to independently arrange and manage their responsibilities.
So, there is no reason to halt the work on your projects, on the contrary you can increase your team, concentrate on the product more and leverage global team by investing in time and result not walls and chairs.
Take care and do not panic!
your Intetics team.