So, you’ve come to your senses and decided to hire a developer or two to work on your next project remotely. Congratulations! You’ve just made a decision that puts you on a pathway to software development nirvana. We firmly believe that remote developers are the future. You’ll soon be seeing the benefits of hiring a remote team.
Now, one of two scenarios applies here. The first is that your company already has some staff working from home, either full or part-time. In that case, you’ll need to think about how this new, virtual team, is going to work within your existing structures.
Alternatively, this might be the first time you’ve trusted a project to staff who are physically working elsewhere. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to try and avoid some of the pitfalls. Luckily for you, we can help with that.
We’ve helped lots of companies integrate the best global talent into their development staff over the years, and as we’ve done that we’ve learned a thing or two. Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind, as you bring your new team into the fold.
Where does this team fit into the overall structure of the company? The key word there is ‘into.’ Make sure that your digital nomads feel and are seen as every bit as much part of the company as their colleagues who work at HQ.
Think about things like:
Updating organizational charts to show the new team and where it fits.
Making sure that new staff gets introduced to the rest of the company by mentioning them in meetings (or letting them attend via video call) or in staff newsletters.
Get them a company email address, and include their contact details in the staff directory.
Clarifying for your team where they sit in the company, and who they can call on for help or support. You don’t want to become their sole point of contact!
Your company should have a remote working policy, which offers guidelines for your new team as to what is expected of them. (Don’t have one of those? See our list of key points to include). There’s also this example of remote working expectations from Zapier.
It’s also important that other staff know what to expect from remote workers. There may be some residual prejudices to staff from overseas left over from the horror days of outsourcing. Your job is to do some education for your company to ensure that everyone knows you’ve hired excellent, professional, talent.
Virtual teams need a different onboarding process, but we’d advise being flexible about introducing new employees; some people just need more support than others. It can be helpful to work from the inside out, to start with introductions and video calls with the staff your team will interact with most often and then expand to the rest of the company.
Don’t neglect the practical side either. Make sure that your digital nomads have all the equipment and information they need to get to work. Having a checklist of apps that require installing, or websites that need to be registered with will get the logistics sorted before they start.
Ultimately, remote teams work much better when they’re self-sufficient. The team manager’s job is to make sure that distributed workers have what they need, so they can just get on with their jobs.
Build a Team Identity – and share it!
Feeling a part of a something is even more critical for distributed teams than it is for those in the office. We’ve talked in more detail about building a sense of team. Letting your team decide what values underpin their roles can be a defining moment in bringing them together.
Once they’ve set that goal, don’t forget to communicate it to colleagues. It may feel like a PR job, but you do need to represent your team in a different way when they don’t work onsite. While workers in the same office will know each other in passing, the chances are the only colleagues who will interact with your virtual team will be those who work with them.
Ensure smooth communication
It’s often said that connection is the oxygen of remote teams. They die without it. We’ve talked at length before about getting this right. The TL;DR version is:
Have multiple channels of communication, and make sure everyone is clear which to use for what.
Stay in touch with everyone. It’s hard to over-communicate with remote staff, and daily stand-ups are ideal for keeping everyone on the same page.
Just make sure it’s communication with a purpose; don’t stray onto the dark path of micro-managing.
Include time to ‘shoot the breeze’. Make socializing a part of meetings, and have a ‘virtual water cooler’ of some sort.
If you haven’t come across the idea of a daily stand-up meeting before, your probably won’t have heard of the Agile development methodology either. We think that Agile and remote teams are a better combination than burger & fries. If you’d like to know why you can read more in our free eBook.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes. If you invest some time in preparing for your remote team to start work, it will pay dividends in the longer term when everything runs smoothly.
For us, that means hiring the right people in the first place. Remote working isn’t for everyone, and some staff finds the responsibility of setting their own pace, or the relative isolation, to be hard to manage. If you want to make sure that your team is made up of the best global talent, that is proven to work well at a distance, then get in touch. It’s what we do, and we’d love to do it for you.