5 Practices For Managing Remote Development Teams
If you are used to on-site work it might be difficult to figure out how to manage remote development teams. But it is no secret that the future of work is rapidly changing, embracing remote and hybrid models. What are the most important tips for managing remote developers? Let’s take a closer look:
1. Hire Well
Ultimately, quality employee management begins with hiring a good fit for your company – not only the technical requirements for the job, but the general vision, values, and work practices. To learn more about how to define your organization’s culture and hire in accordance with it, read our article Culture Fit & Remote Hiring: How We Do It.
This is especially true for remote teams, as you might find it harder to pass those values onto the new employees in a distributed work model. Therefore, make sure the developers you hire not only have the skills to accomplish the tasks but also understand and support the values and ways of your team. You want them to be able to communicate their problems well and are not afraid to ask for help or guidance. Moreover, it is important to look at the programmer’s CV and see if they stayed with other companies for a long time – this shows their ability to commit. Otherwise, you might find yourself trying to micromanage their every step, which is a definite sign of bad management.
Choose The Right Kind of Remote Recruitment
First of all, it matters which recruitment model you choose – outsourcing, freelance, or outstaffing. All three imply remote work, but the degree of management varies greatly. Outsourcing companies have their own project managers who oversee the execution of the task that a member of your team passed on. Thus, outsourcing does not actually imply managing remote developers directly. Freelance software engineers need to be managed, but not in the same way you manage your own employees. The obstacle with freelancers that many tech managers face is their individualist spirit, a tendency to do everything in their own way which sometimes ends up requiring a higher budget or a longer time of implementation. All in all, freelance coders require a lot of your trust in how they will execute the task because managing them might prove to be difficult. Outstaffing, on the other hand, resembles traditional recruitment the most, as it allows you to fully manage the employee. To find out more about how you can hire an experienced full-time programmer on a limited budget, read our recent article The Ultimate Guide to Outstaffing.
2. Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page
Choose systems of communication, documentation of decisions, and task management, and stick to them. There are plenty of options for each of these functions. However, the objective here is to make sure everyone uses the same apps and understands the importance of checking with one another through the same channel. If different members of the team use different communication channels, some document their decisions, while others don’t, you are destined to run into a mess of miscommunication and miscoordination that is more difficult to untangle in the remote work model than it might have been if the team was colocated. All in all, simple and clear use of applications (like Trello, Notion, Slack) will free up everyone’s time for more productive task execution. Some apps could even allow the team if not work asynchronously then at least minimize the number of virtual meetings that are shown to be draining.
3. Share the Vision
First, we need to differentiate between the company’s culture and the vision for a single project. Your company’s culture is a set of values and practices. The vision is however created for each project or product your company works on. While corporate culture alignment is important to find the right people, the vision must be communicated clearly for each project.
You might think developers don’t need to know every step of the product’s lifecycle, but in reality, it allows every department to maintain the same picture in mind. This, in turn, helps avoid miscommunication and over-communication. When you keep every employee in the loop of the main factors of the product’s development with short meetings or even emails, you won’t have to answer each of their questions individually or deal with a misalignment of visions.
4. Invest in Your Developers’ Growth and Well-being
The well-being of your employees directly influences the results of their work. Therefore, instead of pushing for the quickest results of every single project, invest in the growth and comfort of your developers.
It starts with simple check-ups: give your team a chance to speak up about the changes that would like to make. It can be anything from the equipment they use at work to their emotional well-being. Outside of discussing the ongoing project, create opportunities specifically to discuss other matters. The atmosphere of open communication will help the programmers feel valued not solely for their skills but as individuals and members of a team. Furthermore, it will allow them to be more vocal in projects-related meetings which, in turn, will drive innovation across other work processes.
Remote workers frequently face feelings of loneliness and isolation. In order to keep the team spirits up, managers ought to create special times and/or spaces for their employees to communicate informally. Whether it’s a Slack channel, a Discord server, or allocated hangout meetings, make sure your devs know each other! Using the previous tip, ask them how they want to communicate and allow them to choose the method that suits them best.
Support Education & Growth.
Developers often are caught up on the trends of their field and know before you do which skills (languages, frameworks) they need to learn next. Allocate company resources to support your engineers’ further growth. That will show them that you value them and invest in their future in your company.
5. Don’t Micromanage
Micromanaging is a common mistake of the managers who transition to remote work. Being unable to see the work process in real life, many are inclined to be more controlling of their employee’s work. Find that fine line between leading, pointing out mistakes, advising, and taking over the task, solving the problem. Allow your coders to come up with solutions to emerging problems, new better ways to arrive at the desired result – this will allow them to grow and become better. You are there to make sure the workflow of the whole team runs smoothly. You can guide, provide your experience to learn from, but once you start solving the problem they came to you with instead of giving them ready answers.
The Ultimate Guide to Outstaffing
You’ve seen the term “Outstaffing” here and there but never really got a concise explanation of what it is? We got you! In this article, we explain what outstaffing is, using our own company’s process as an example.
What Is Outstaffing?
Outstaffing is an innovative recruitment model that allows a company to hire remote full-time employees through an outstaffing agency. The employee joins the existing team as a full-time member. The only difference is that legally they are employed by the outstaffing company, which takes care of all the legal paperwork.
Let’s look at Coder Staffing as an example and briefly describe the process. Our team has a large database of vetted developers. We carefully find a perfect fit for each client. Since we pair a company with Russian developers, the costs are significantly lower than those of North American and European programmers. The developer then joins the client’s team. Coder Staffing helps with communication when needed and if after 30 days the client decides the programmer is not the right fit, we return the money. In an absolute majority of cases, our clients are happy with the programmers we found for them and keep working with them and, thus, us for years.
You probably already grasp some differences between outstaffing and outsourcing. However, since outsourcing is a popular way to meet the tech needs of an organization on a budget, many imagine outstaffing to be something similar. Yet, there are many significant advantages outstaffing has when compared to outsourcing. Let’s look at how the two differ.
Outstaffing Vs. Outsourcing
Both outsourcing and outstaffing save you money on hiring tech talent. However, that is about all the similarity there is between these two models. What are the differences?
The main difference between these two recruitment models comes down to management. When you hire through an outstaffing company, your company manages the employee fully. In contrast, when you outsource, you delegate the responsibility to the project manager from the outsourcing company. No one joins your team, the whole project is done outside of your company. Thus, outsourcing can be a solution for each individual project, but it is not meant for long-term, committed cooperation. This can create a lack of transparency and a disturbance in the feedback loop. Moreover, the team that works on your project most likely simultaneously works on other tasks as well.
In contrast, outstaffing agencies provide you with an employee as good as your own. The only difference is the paperwork that positions the agency as a middleman, and the remote status of the team member. You can be sure the new employee works exclusively for you. Moreover, you have a direct communication channel, instead of addressing them through a project manager.
What are the benefits of Outstaffing?
Outstaffing is the closest you can come to traditional recruiting on a limited budget. With developers’ salaries constantly rising, you might feel like outsourcing is your only way to get tech tasks done. But outsourcing cannot be the long-term solution. After all, outsourcing teams never work exclusively for you. However, outstaffing offers you a rare opportunity to scale your team and hire internationally recognized talent even if your budget doesn’t allow you to employ programmers in your country.
Outstaffing companies aren’t looking for a one-time collaboration. Instead, they focus on building lasting work relationships. For instance, most of our clients ask Coder Staffing to help scale their tech team after hiring one developer. Commitment and transparency are important values of outstaffing agencies that pay off in the long run.
Yes, you heard that right! The outstaffing company legally employs the person who fully works for you. Your company has a contract with the outstaffing agency and you just pay one invoice per month. The rest – legal filings, overseas taxes, health insurance, and more – is taken care of by the outstaffing agency. Coder Staffing, for instance, is a registered US company, which makes it easier for a lot of our clients to cooperate. Outstaffing ends up being a great deal – you get a talented developer, no paperwork on your hands, and it saves you money.
To trust the outstaffing process, you need to understand what the business model behind it is. An outstaffing agency is interested in finding you an employee who will fit your technical needs and corporate culture. In fact, at Coder Staffing we don’t charge anything for the hire itself, only a commission off their salary every month. Thus, we optimized the recruitment process to deliver quality results fast. We then give our clients time to assess the fit in a workflow situation – a 30-day trial period. After 30 days, you can still choose not to employ the developer and you won’t lose any money. Therefore, our objective is to invest energy and time to find someone with who our client can build a stable, long-lasting working relationship. Indeed, our revenue directly depends on how good the fit it, and thus, how long the working relationship between the client and the developer will last. It becomes evident that the interests of Coder Staffing are aligned with those of our clients, which adds to the transparency and smoothness of the work process.
How to Retain Developers
These days almost every company needs developers. Whether it’s a global tech giant that is always looking for new talent to join its team or a local startup that needs to program an app for their town’s upcoming event. One thing stays true – the demand for software engineers is growing and the shortage of talent becomes evident. Many experienced developers claim that they constantly get job offers in their LinkedIn messages and emails promising to pay more than their current job does. So even if you were lucky to find a coder who matches your company’s needs and values it will take effort to make them stay. We often talk about recruitment on this blog, but today we are going to outline some tips to help you retain tech talent.
- Make Remote Work an Option
If your developer is based in the same location as the rest of the team allowing them the flexibility of choice will be appreciated. Especially if your developer works fairly independently from the rest of the team, giving them an opportunity to work from home and during the hours that fit them most shows trust in their coding process and results. You don’t want to make them feel too much pressure once they have proved they can deliver results and fix issues in time. The lack of trust and flexibility can easily become the reason they would think of leaving for another position, especially now that so many companies have fully remote teams.
- Know and Respect Their Value
Once you’ve hired a programmer it can be easy to take them for granted. Not to say you should always be scared of them leaving, but you need to have a healthy understanding of the demand for tech talent out there. Keep in mind that your software engineer is getting offers from companies all the time. Respect their value by giving them a fair wage, asking for their technical advice instead of just passing down tasks.
- Support Learning
Always support software engineers who are willing to learn a new language or try a new framework. First of all, your programmer probably knows what skills they will need in the future better than you do because they tend to stay in tune with the latest news in software development. So even if you do not understand why they would need to learn something there is no need for it in the current project, trust them in wanting to become a more skilled developer for your company’s future tech development. In order to endorse the developer’s desire to improve their skills, offer to sponsor their education and let them take some of the work time – after all their professional growth is integral for the organization’s technological advancement.
- Provide Quality Gear
Something you don’t want to start saving money on is good gear. These are the instruments with which your technology is built. We all know that outdated, slow, and laggy computers and applications are extremely frustrating. Now imagine how much the quality of gear influences a programmer’s experience at work. Even if they work from home, make sure to provide them with the best tech you can and pay attention to their requirements and comments – it is not always about getting the most expensive PC, but buying the tech the developers need most.
- Keep Them Involved
The objectives of the company must stay the main direction for everyone – from a customer service worker to your coder. This ensures everyone has a clear vision and realizes their role in the collective success. In turn, this sentiment brings a sense of accountability and togetherness. Furthermore, ensure everyone’s equal participation in social events as developers frequently are stereotyped as “different” – introverted, socially awkward. Try to fight such biases within your company and include everyone. The resulting feeling of belonging will keep the employer from thinking about it as just a job and will make it harder to abandon if something better comes along. The new offer would have to not only beat the wage but the feelings of involvement with your company.