Remote Software, one of the universal themes of the current pandemic is a trend toward remote working where possible. That may well continue after the pandemic, with more than 80% of CEOs saying they plan to permit remote working at least part of the time. In the same survey by Gartner, 47% also claimed they would allow full-time remote work, and 42% would provide flex hours.
All of this shows that the pandemic has forced many businesses to re-evaluate their norms, but that still leaves a sizeable number of businesses who are skeptical about remote working. Essentially, one in five CEOs does not see anyone in their business working remotely, despite significant evidence that it works.
The general benefits are that it reduces attrition, and around two-thirds of businesses that permit remote working report increased productivity. Of course, there are some downsides, particularly when it comes to management. Some managers feel as though they are not in control when their employees work remotely – and that’s often down to poor management practices rather than an actual loss of control. Managers, as Alison Green of AskAManager.com notes, can be their own worst enemies.
So how do you manage a remote software development team well?
There is no one “trick” to managing well — a manager will be able to manage Remote Software workers just as well as they manage workers in the office. The principles are more or less the same, but poor management practices for remote workers will simply be amplified.
Successful time management is key to any managerial position, and that means encouraging:
- Calendar sharing for ease of synchronization
- Taking regular breaks every 75 to 90 minutes
- Good time management in meetings, which should be brief so everyone can get back to work
- Flexibility where possible — provided the work is getting done on time
Managers should focus on outcomes in most cases. They can encourage workers to set schedules, but they should also keep an eye on what employees actually deliver. This requires a manager to have a good understanding of what their staff does — which can be tricky with Remote Software teams.
Set Clear Goals
When you set priorities, you need to set clear goals, as well. Again, this is a basic management tenet, but it’s one that quite a few managers fall down on. If you need a particular piece of code at a particular time, communicate this clearly. If someone is falling behind on a particular piece of coding, they might need extra help, some time management training, or a break so they can recharge. It’s easy just to end up staring at a screen blanking out, particularly if you work remotely.
Keep the Company Culture in Mind
At its heart, you still need to keep in mind the company’s culture. Continuous learning (especially for developers) is vital, and perhaps setting up a WhatsApp group for socialization outside of work times may be beneficial. You might also encourage staff to stay organized, just as you would expect them to do so in the office. It may be worth setting aside some budget to help staff adjust the home workspaces — assuming you haven’t already. This can promote an organization and create goodwill.
Of course, remote development teams don’t always have to be managed within the organization. Near-shore options can give you the quality that you need at a price you can afford, and they work autonomously with their own management structure. Alternatively, you can augment your own staff with remote developers to provide an instant boost of expertise as needed.
Overall, managers should embrace remote work and aim to provide a high level of support for their employees to ensure efficiency and productivity. Keeping the basic tenets of managerial support in mind is essential for managing employees, but adapting these tenets to better cater to a remote workforce can set your organization up for success.