There is nothing new about remote working, especially for software engineers and developers. However, most people never experienced it how they have to get used to it after the onset of the pandemic. Today, every organization, irrespective of its niche, has already created or is transitioning to a virtual workspace.
However, the challenge remains to create a perfect balance between productivity and employee satisfaction. Reports suggest that remote work routines have started affecting employees. One survey indicates that almost two-thirds of professionals working from home and other remote locations are experiencing burnout. Engineers and developers are more used to remote work than other professionals. However, the ongoing situation is unprecedented for them as well.
Focus on Virtual Team Building
Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have extended their remote work protocols irrespective of lockdowns. Other organizations are also following suit after realizing that the coronavirus is not going to vanish all of a sudden. In short, we are in for a long virtual work setting. If you haven’t already, you may also need to extend your remote working routine until the year’s end or even beyond that.
In this context, supervisors and team leaders need to focus on virtual team building activities. Remote working, especially when you work in a team, can be quite lonesome. This secluded routine can lead to disengagement among engineers and developers. You can get around this side effect of remote working by conducting virtual team building activities.
These exercises can be real-time (live) or asynchronous (recorded). Then, they could be stress busters and fun or practical and designed around work. You can also conduct them regularly or as a one-time thing. Below are some virtual team-building exercise templates that you can try out among your team of engineers
Virtual Lunch: It is the simplest and most effective way to get your team together and have some light-hearted time. Virtual lunches should just be for pure fun and catching up with each other. They should free flow without any work-related agenda. You can do this weekly or fortnightly, depending on what your team suggests.
What Have You Learned: Developers and engineers try to find hacks and shortcuts all the time to streamline their work. Many of them have also developed methods and tricks for acing remote work. Ask your team to share what they have learned or developed in a given period they would like to share with other members. This activity can be asynchronous, where members can record their video message and
Shared Playlist and Chatroom: Music is the developer’s best friend. If your developers’ team bonds over songs, encourage them to make a collaborative playlist on Spotify or other streaming platforms where everyone can add a song that they think will get the work done. You can also create personalized chatrooms for your team with no supervision so they can freely talk to each other and vent out (if they want to).
Allow Flexible Schedules for Your Team
The remote and work-from-home routine has disrupted the work-life balance for many people. Many among your team could also be struggling to find that balance. What you can do on your part is to offer them flexible schedules. When they are not stressed to complete their work within the regular office hours, they will manage their workload more efficiently. It will also help them fulfill more personal commitments that increase manifold when you work from home.
The flexibility of working hours will protect them from burnouts. Overall, you will see fewer people asking for full-day leaves. A flexible schedule will also give you a room to ask for one-off work-related favors from the team, especially for any work that comes in odd hours.
Introduce Gamification in Your Work Culture
If you haven’t until now, it is the right time to introduce gamification in your workspace. The idea of gamification is to improve engagement, productivity, and ownership among the workforce through fun and non-tedious reinforcements and rewards. You can use some work and project management software that lets you gamify your interaction with team members. These are some gamification elements you can introduce among developers and engineers’ teams.
- Create game-like leaderboards
- Assign points on completing a task
- Set a challenge for the day with some reward
- Transform team member profile picture with customized avatars and names with their favorite fictional characters.
Introduce Remote Work Stipend
Make sure that all your team members are working while having the same workstation configuration. Their machines (desktops and laptops) must be of the same computing power. Similarly, they should have an internet connection with the same speed as if working from the office.
Apart from using your inventory to provide machines, you can create a remote work stipend from your saving overheads. This stipend will help developers pay for the high-speed internet and procure an accessory or any other work-related item without spending from their pocket.
Devise Internal Mentorship Program
Internal mentorship activity is another great way to promote teamwork and increase engagement among the workforce. Ask senior and seasoned developers and engineers to step forward and offer their support, guidance, and work tricks to freshers looking for and needing them.
First, you need to create a pool of mentors and give them a guideline on approaching the mentorship in line with your organizational values. Lastly, give them a free hand to devise their strategies to share their knowledge with other team members. A successful mentorship program will be a win-win outcome for you. On the one hand, it will give a sense of accomplishment to seniors mentoring the younger lot. On the other hand, it will improve and expand the aptitude of juniors.
Aim to execute these team-building and engagement strategies for your developer’s team. Doing so will help you prepare your business for the long stretch of pandemic-driven remote work requirements.
This level of preparedness will help you retain productivity while preventing burnouts and higher employee turnover.