The opportunity to work remotely is one of the perks of being a software developer. Yes, with remote working, you can take a quick nap if you feel tired, stroll to the kitchen to grab a snack anytime, and even watch an episode of your favorite series on Netflix when you want to take a break.
Well, it's all cool and great until it becomes challenging balancing all that "freedom" and maintaining productivity. If you happen to be a chronic procrastinator, it could get worse trying to do your thing without a supervisor's deadline fueling you.
That said, whether you are a solo developer or a developer that is working in a remote team. Here are some of my top tips for you or your team to implement with the remote workspace.
Set up communication platforms
One of the advantages of the conventional office setting in comparison to remote work is the ease of communication. While it may seem like work is designed to be continuous with only a little time to have fun and chat, office settings naturally allow efficient communication.
Whether it's a well-planned thing or an impromptu arrangement, communication among team members is almost always seamless. A quick meeting could last just around five or ten minutes in an office and may probably take longer when it comes to remote communication. For starters, not everyone will get the memo quickly that there's an impromptu meeting, especially when participating members are all at different time zones.
Therefore, establishing a means of communication is one of the most crucial tips of remote working. This isn't just for exchanging pleasantries or to pass along a new policy, jobs or tasks also need to be communicated. What's more, an adjustment or an addendum to a previous arrangement may need to reach all members of the software development team quickly. Adopting software tools like Trello, Azure DevOps, Jira can help manage both communication and project efficiently.
As a leader of a software development project, remembering code review is an important practice, which can be difficult to achieve with remote software development teams. You'll do well to set up a specialized platform, tool, or process that forcefully makes the review of codes a must before it can be committed to codebases. This way, you'll not only ensure your team does their bits, but you'll also maintain software quality, and promote skill growth.
While this tip may sound like you are overwhelming your team of developers with work, that's not the motive at all. Here's the thing; software development work often involves the splitting of tasks among team members. So trust us when we say there will be times when moving forward on a task will be dependent on another developer's task. There's almost nothing as frustrating as getting stuck in one place because you need another person's input to move ahead.
Therefore, to maintain productivity and not slow down the entire development project, you can adopt the practice of stacking up to three or more jobs/tasks so that a software engineer can always jump on another task while the other person completes his or her end of the project. This tip is important because not only do team members work at different capabilities, conditions at different remote locations may not be the same.
Establish a proper productivity tracker.
Whether it's a remote work mode or office setting, it is vital that members of a team understand the process by which their performance is measured. As a team lead or a project manager, you want to ensure there is a clear and unbiased process of tracking developers' performance.
This can be in the form of monitoring contributions to codebases, lines of codes written in relation to the function they can execute, and so on. You'll do well to incorporate the feedback of the software development team members as you implement or establish performance indicators or management approaches.
Initiate virtual collaborative events and professional development.
Working apart is already challenging. There's this sense of "all man for himself" that comes with not seeing or being around other teammates. It can be challenging to build or maintain an organizational/professional culture among members working apart. Therefore, there is a need to make employees continually feel like they are important parts of a growing team rather than an ordinary remote task-completing machine or person.
In an office setting, this sometimes happens almost naturally or organically because of the proximity of employee workspaces. So, a structured event is one of the best ways to go with remote teams. These structured events can be in the form of frequent team bonding activities that will accommodate feedback from all members.
Furthermore, letting the team know you care about their growth is crucial in fostering togetherness. There can also be a form of challenge or race to new certifications in the IT world. This way your remote software developers will always be on their toes about personal continuous personal growth. You can add a reimbursement of funds used in acquiring an online technical skill to motivate members towards their self-development.
Don't neglect the team.
If you are gathering a team of developers in an office setting, you'll need a physical space, tables, chairs, computers, high-speed internet, and so on. With a remote team, you may not have to provide many of these things.
Still, you don't want to assume all is fine with your developer. Sometimes, it might be a great idea to support your software developers with the necessary tools needed to carry out their bits effectively. You don't need me to tell you that employees may not find it easy to sustain long-term productivity when they are significantly uncomfortable or lack the tools to deliver their skills.
It's not compulsory, but adding some perks like periodic financial bonuses might not be a bad idea. In many office settings, free lunch, snacks, and access to recreational facilities may be available. Employees appreciate many of these things, which may sometimes promote commitment/willingness to remain with an organization. Since you don't have to do them in the absence of a physical office, the least you could do is offer periodic incentives.
You might want to say goodbye to Hawk-eye supervision.
As a team manager or leader, it can be challenging to get your remote team working effectively. Sometimes, you don't even know if they are working or not. Many managers try to work around this situation by micromanaging.
In case you are not aware, the post-covid era has taught us alternative ways of running businesses and maintaining productivity without having to breathe down the throat of your team members.
The first approach is to establish trust with your remote employees by asking your team how often they need your supervising presence and what level of responsibility they can manage.
Furthermore, try to determine when and why you feel the urge to micromanage your team. Do you assume things will go bad if people don't follow your instructions end to end? Also, check if you are a perfectionist, if you fall into any of these boats or similar, you might just be managing your own anxieties by overly supervising your software development team.
The next thing is to analyze the task you want your team to complete and determine the areas your supervision is a must. Trust us, we know dropping the micromanaging habit is hard still, you can kick it off by letting your team fly on an aspect of a project that all hell won't break loose if they do something wrong.
As a supervisor of teams, I can tell you for free that remote teams are usually disciplined. It's not usually the best idea to overly supervise your team without any room to trust that they will deliver. Besides, you also want to train people to become managers or team leaders, so at some point, you will have to let go and let people make mistakes and learn.
As a software developer working in a team
Whether you are doing your thing at home or pull it off in a quiet spot at the park, there's a need to create what you can call a workspace. As an employee, you don't just go to the office so that your employer can supervise your every move and ensure you are not collecting free money at the end of the month. Dedicated workspaces also help ensure focus so that you can be productive.
Similarly, it's not a bad idea to ensure you separate your leisure mode from your work mode, especially when you get distracted easily. It can be a space on your balcony, the basement, or even the living room. Just make sure when you get into that space, it's time to work. When you want to take a break, it's also a good idea not to have long hours of fun in the same space. This way, you don't switch easily from work to play mode with little distraction.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, you name it. The urge to connect with the rest of the world never stops, so you must find a way to shut out the distraction once it's time for work. Working remotely may mean you have the liberty to work at your own time.
For some, the conventional 9-5 may still apply. If the former is your condition, you can keep the phones on flight mode for a productive period and reconnect when you take a break. Many “work from home" professionals also adopt self-control apps that help maintain focus and maintain productivity with all the existing distractions.
Have a structured break.
When you are in a remote work style, you are technically your own boss. There's no supervisor breathing down your throat that you can't have more than half an hour break before returning to your "cage."
Still, you don't want to abuse your break time. With all that freedom comes responsibility. You don't have to have the one-time break structured into 9-5 operations. Having short breaks after working for two or three hours is not a bad idea. This way, you can avoid the usual long hours of work before the break, and also promote regular cool-off periods.
Connect with your co-workers.
If you are not flying solo, i.e., you are part of a software development team, you can have time to connect with other remote software development teammates. It doesn't have to be about coding or debugging. A chit-chat for a couple of minutes won't hurt anyone. You can catch up on fun things done over the weekend, share pictures, or give them a virtual tour of your remote location. It's a great way of building a relationship and promoting a sense of belonging to a team.
Choose your productive time.
As mentioned earlier, you may have the liberty to choose your work time, so try not to fit into a box that doesn't go well with you as a person. Not everybody is a day person, some people like me cover a lot of work at night. As a developer, the number of codes we crunch between 12 am and 4 am is usually more than any work we do between 9 am to 5 pm. The key is knowing the time of the day you are more productive and leverage it.
We hope you found this article useful. Here at Cloud Employee, we assist both developers looking for work and companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies. Talk to us, learn more about how Cloud Employee works, or see our Developer Pricing Guide.
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