Remote work is becoming more and more popular, and many companies are thinking that it might be worth trying to work with developers remotely. But, for such cooperation to be effective, you will have to consider more than the output code. You will also need to learn to communicate in different time zones, to keep track of time worked, and to retain the interest of the employee. In this article, we will talk about how to effectively manage a remote development team.
How to organize the work of a remote development team?
To organize effective work and tune developers to the maximum client orientation, it is necessary to inform people about the importance of their work and the rules of the company. In today’s digital age, businesses are using more and more online tools. For example, they can use a UX portfolio to document their achievements and communicate their accomplishments with customers and employees. Or they might use time tracker software to understand the workload and productivity of their employees.
When you deliver information about maximum developer efficiency, about maximum customer focus, about the importance of company rules, you have to remember one thing – you shouldn’t deliver this information in terms of the company’s benefit. When you give information in a way that benefits the company, it doesn’t get through very well. So don’t operate on notions such as:
- We will lose a customer
- We will incur losses
- We will get negative feedback from the client
It is better to present this information in terms of benefits for the employee:
- For example, why a loyal customer is important. We explain how a developer benefits from a loyal customer. If the customer is maximally loyal to the employee, it will be easier for the employee to work, receive tasks and solve any problems. Plus, we are all human, we all make mistakes, and if the client will be loyal to the employee, in principle, he or she can turn a blind eye to something. If there is no loyalty, then the developer can get a “bundle of negativity” from the client, and thus he or she will be uncomfortable to work with.
- The next point is financial gain. We convey the message that if the client is loyal, we can get a positive review or recommendation. The same client can give a new development task, which will increase the revenue and our financial stability. And if the revenue increases, we can give an employee at least a one-time bonus for a positive review, or generally increase their salary. That is, thanks to a loyal customer, the developer receives some financial benefit.
- The third point is the possibility of professional and career growth. If our financial stability and revenue increase, we will be able to launch new projects, new services, and new directions. This will increase our staff and we will be able to provide opportunities for developers to become project managers, engineers, team leaders, etc.
If you deliver information in this way, you will get maximum efficiency. The developer himself or herself will be motivated to work as efficiently as possible and according to the rules of the company.
Accounting and time management at a remote development team
Many remote development teams have this problem: employees don’t always register their working hours on time, or they don’t register their hours correctly. I have tried various techniques, read various books, used all sorts of systems. My conclusion is that:
- I, as an employer, benefit from having employees log hours on time, correctly, and daily. For example, a task comes up, it is entered into the system, and for each task is made a record – what was done and how much time was spent on it.
- This record is also a marketing tool. The client needs to understand what he or she is paying for and what his or her time is spent on. If the developer can describe his work in a three-word sentence, the client will have a better understanding of what he or she is paying for.
I always tell my team that it is to their advantage to get the information in on time:
- I give the example of a loyal client, talk about their benefits and show where exactly we can get loyalty. After all, when a client can always quickly get information about his or her costs – what exactly was done, how much time was spent on it, we all get some kind of loyalty – both the company and the employee himself or herself.
- From here comes another benefit from a loyal customer – a satisfied manager. In other words, if the person always puts in the hours on time and correctly, the client is satisfied. I have no problems with billing, we get positive feedback, and this is a very good reason to give him or her a bonus, and maybe even raise his or her salary.
- It’s also a time-saver. The fact is that when I deliver all of this information to an employee, I deliver it from half an hour to several hours. The developer and I sit and talk about the benefits, what moments can arise, and so on.
So in principle, there is no problem here – there are simple rules that help us.
Organizing the work of employees in different time zones
The next point is organizing the work of employees in different time zones. There is nothing complicated here, this problem can be solved in two ways:
- First, the client is in the same time zone as the development team. Now, in all areas, there is a wild shortage of strong developers. And you can find a client who is in the same time zone as your development team.
- If you do not have this opportunity, for example, we have developers located from Krakov to Berlin, then there is a second way – to make a shift of +/- 4 hours. We have a client who works in Kyiv from 9 am to 6 pm, and my developers, for example, start working at 4 or 5 am. The most important thing here is that the developer gets a pool of tasks with some kind of description and explanations on them in time.
Someone told me that this way of working is suitable for small and medium-sized businesses, while large companies and state companies will never agree to work this way – they dictate their own rules. But in fact, this is not the case. We now have a large pool of large customers – large European companies, large international companies, and we work with them in a +/- 4-hour shift. Everyone is happy, and there are no problems.
Also, do not forget to take care of the data protection of your employees. Consider using a VPN. For example, check out NordVPN review – Cooltechzone.com.
How to motivate a remote development team?
The easiest way is to find a reason to thank each employee. For example, if you get positive feedback, or an employee has improved their skills, be sure to thank them. Thank them in front of everyone. You do realize that strong developers are creative people, and any creative soul requires recognition. Just thank him or her in front of everyone. Say that thanks to the work of Alex Boldman we got positive feedback. This gives a certain incentive to the developer to continue to be as efficient and customer-oriented as possible.
Working in a team is another way to motivate. It’s very good for raising qualifications. In the past, we used to give each developer individual training courses, or I would give them myself. But there was no particular effect – the courses were put off for a long time. Then it so happened that one of our developers created a chat room called “Philosophy Chat on Programming”, and everyone got involved. They often discuss different points on optimization, productivity, new mechanisms, methods, and standards. Our developers share free educational materials like the best top e-commerce technology trends. We discuss how best to do it, how it will be more optimal and correct. After 3 months, when we checked the knowledge, I saw that the developers on average 5-10% improved their skills.
The next point of motivation is to inform the staff about what goals we set for ourselves, where we’re going, what we want to achieve, how we plan to achieve it, and what we need to do for that. We inform people about the plans and goals of the company. Further, when we achieve these goals, it is necessary to inform the employees that we have achieved the goals, explain why we have achieved them, what we have gained from them, and what are the benefits for the employees themselves. If employees see your achievements, see the company’s goals, they believe in your company and work enthusiastically. If you don’t give out the information, what you’ve achieved, what are your indicators and so on, usually employees get lost, they start to think that the company is going nowhere, they start to have some negative emotions.
Today’s challenges and the sudden shift to remote work require each manager and each employee to act in a focused and coordinated manner. Now, you know:
- How to archive your business’ success and accomplishments online for customers to see.
- How to organize developers’ work efficiently and set them up to be as client-oriented as possible.
- How to achieve good time keeping and control.
- How to organize the work of employees in different time zones.
- What motivation systems, other than salary, are available.