The need for productive remote development teams is crucial in the modern age. Because the pandemic expedited the transition to remote work, numerous tools and tips surfaced all at once for businesses to try until they found the perfect combination for their remote teams. To mitigate sifting through countless streams of advice, here is how to best support your remote development team, so they stay accountable and motivated.
Maintain Meaningful Communication
Remote teams are skeptical about meetings because it makes employees feel less independent. In a physical offering environment, it’s easier for upper management to supervise operations to ensure everyone is working to standard. With remote teams, oversight becomes more complex — unless there are regular check-ins via meetings.
However, the aim is to provide the following:
- Accountability without micromanagement
- Gatherings with substance
- Feedback without hovering
- Information with relevance
Management should host meetings on appropriate platforms with the functionality and mechanisms required to make everyone feel involved. Otherwise, teams risk coworkers feeling irrelevant and questioning why they’re attending the meeting.
Make meetings more than status updates. Those hosting the conference can prepare a detailed agenda to progress the goal at hand and take time to chat with the attendee members. An open forum for them to contribute — when the meeting may not allow — makes them feel they have more agency and decision-making power within the company.
It’s also a great way to obtain feedback and team build. Even if only the last 10 minutes of a meeting are devoted to a roundtable discussion, the value this brings is worth the investment into everyone’s salaries.
Ensure meetings relay to the team how valuable they are and how upper management notices their achievements. Especially with remote teams, individualized attention could feel scarce.
Support Office Improvements
Justifying offsite technology is essential for creating more productive and inspiring workspaces for team members. Even though you may not see the tech in action, the investment will pay off in the employee’s work effort and dedication to their tasks.
Discuss with team members what their work-from-home setup is like. See how you can assist if a team member struggles to afford a new monitor when theirs is shorting. Is someone’s keyboard not ergonomic and they find their hands hurt? Gift them a cushion or specially-designed keyboard for comfort.
The ROI won’t be visible in dollars. However, employees will feel appreciated by upper management if they know individual employee happiness is important to them. Achieve this delicate balance of investing in your team while considering how your business is scaling to more remote work models.
Office improvements aren’t always financial investments — some are more emotionally supportive. If colleagues feel secluded in their office, schedule more one-on-one meetings. Depending on how far away they live from an office, invite them for an on-campus employee event.
Other office improvements include investing in their organization, productivity and continued education. Provide teams with online resources and news outlets to refine their skills and stay up-to-date with what’s current. Though these resources could distract colleagues, it’s vital to recognize it’s productive procrastination in a worst-case scenario — if what they’re working on will make them better in the long run, is it even procrastination?
An employee’s company commitment rises when management takes care of them. Boosting emotional dedication improves productivity and turnover, even in the most seasoned employees.
Define Specific Procedures
Though remote teams are generally more productive than in-office teams, management could still be paranoid about employees wasting time on worthwhile projects. The biggest concern is this — when there isn’t enough guidance, it results in downtime.
Management teams can take this time to craft detailed yet manageable procedures. They cannot be book-length, but they should be informative enough to answer coworkers’ questions in a remote setting. Upper management must lead their development teams by considering every circumstance.
If someone gets ahead on their work, how can they proceed with the least resistance? Who are the team members to contact in the event of specific situations? Laying out information so employees can find their answers without disrupting the workflow of others is the goal.
Instead of leaving protocol to interpretation, brainstorm every situation that could disrupt productivity and create a flowchart of actions for remote teams to follow. Even if you have a database of information, at least they know where to go to start searching for information. Increasing independence in this way will only make teams even more confident that the company trusts them.
Building processes may take time, as this may reveal process improvements. Find software and cloud services to support necessities like directories and resources. Perhaps remote employees don’t have a manual for formally requesting a few hours off in the middle of the day. They may not know each team member’s preferred mode of communication.
Ask for employee input, too — increasing meaningful communication. Ask what they see if they notice minor inconveniences in their remote life. Only the dev team will know the ins and outs enough to provide insight into the day-to-day stops. Then, test ways to implement these changes in the most comfortable and financially sound way possible.
See these gaps as opportunities to become a forerunner in supporting remote development teams.
Supporting Remote Dev Teams Like a Pro
Working from home can sometimes feel isolating, but it will feel different if companies support their development teams well. Taking time to invest in their lives — financially and emotionally — will create a more tight-knit group capable of advancing company goals further than ever. All it takes is some extra administrative tasks to lay the groundwork for independence and guidance — then the rest will take care of itself.