With the year 2020 pushing the world into coping remotely , the question of managing your work effectively is still highly relevant. Regardless of whether you’ve hired an outsource development team for your project or have to manage your own team that’s working from their home offices as you adapt to the realities of 2020, the procedures are pretty much the same.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the remote employee management best practices, share tips, as well as tools that can help you run the team’s work efficiently.

Create a Detailed Plan

If you’re intimidated by the word “remote”, don’t be, as one of the greatest things about remote work is that even if you don’t have your team at hand, your collaboration could surely be productive. And since the world is moving on to freelance and out-of-office work without a stop, you will have to boost your remote management skills sooner or later, especially when it comes to your developers.

Thus, the first point that you must take into consideration is having a detailed and full plan of the work ahead. To assure that everyone is on the same page, invest your time into:

  • thorough outline of what is expected
  • lining out responsibilities and rules
  • stating deliverables
  • setting objectives
  • calculating deadlines.

Although this may seem time-consuming at first, splitting tasks into milestones and giving clear explanations and instructions on what’s needed really pays off in the end.

Importantly✍: When every person has a schedule📅 to stick to, any work can be organized a lot better.

Your Communication Should Run on a Schedule

Similarly to having a plan with a strict calendar, agree on:

  • meetings
  • days to discuss updates
  • hold video conferences
  • the call times.

So, that said, timing is your friend. Make sure to notify your team beforehand about an upcoming meeting. This is twice as relevant if you’re working with a team that’s located in a different time zone.

Next, be prepared for the meeting. If the topic of discussion isn’t clear, give the meeting participants a heads up about the issues that are to be brought up. In this way, your time resources will be distributed wisely

Importantly✍: Don’t hold meetings too often either. “Talks about talks” won’t get you anywhere, just as little communication won’t. Therefore, find the golden meridian that will work best for you.

Find the Right Means for Communication

You won’t go far without having the right channels of communication. Among the most popular ones to name apart from good-old emails are:

Slack

Skype

Zoom

TeamViewer

All of the above can be used for various purposes from video-calls to group chats. In any event, use whichever one that suits your team’s preferences and needs best.

What Defines Effective Communication

As mentioned earlier, successful communication follows the rule of golden middle, which means it doesn’t occur excessively nor rarely. Of course, texting someone off-schedule is no crime if a question arises, yet the good point to keep in mind is NOT sending messages to group chats if the message is aimed at a single person.

The thing is that your team shouldn’t get distracted by reading messages that don’t influence the work of the group, this ultimately wastes time on going through conversations that aren’t that essential.

The bottom line here is trying to follow three simple rules:

  • be “to the point” in channeling the communication
  • give feedback
  • follow-up with the team regularly.

Equip Yourself With the Right PM Tools

There are many things that you can inherit from project management for managing a remote development team. And a good part of them deals with the technology that was created to foster the success of a project in which there are many participants and contributors.

Having these is obligatory for understanding how the project is carrying on, for reviewing performance (both personal and of the team), as well as the progress. As such, making use of task management tools is a must.

My personal favorites include:

Trello

Meistertask

JIRA Dashboards

YouTrack

Asana

Such software was designed for logging and structuring the tasks of every team member, monitoring the workloads, viewing the progress and keeping the team on the same wavelength.

Solving problems remotely and making critical team collaboration decisions often requires you to activate time management skills.

For this case, ✅ TMetric is a perfect fit for tracking the work time of the team members. The same goes for marking the billed time, generating reports and integrating with multiple services developers use in work.

Can Some Tasks Be Handled Automatically?

Reducing the amount of manual work by implementing automation is another thing to devote attention to. To give an example of that, this can refer to auto-testing code and allocating bugs (contrary to manual testing).

Be that as it may, your team can this way focus on those tasks and processes that require their input, expertise, and knowledge instead of wasting time on monotonous and iterative ones.

Importantly✍: A move towards automating the part of work that is repetitive, time-sapping, and doesn’t have to be performed by an employee can, in the end, save everyone a lot of time and effort.

Which Mistakes to Avoid

Now that we’ve covered the “do’s”, let’s point out a couple of things that you should try not to do as you manage your remotely working team.

1️⃣ Do not be oversuspicious

One of the points here revolves around not trusting the people you’ve hired. Being oversuspicious or too focused on controlling employees can lead to sloppy results. People don’t like to be bothered unnecessarily, so do your best to not bug your team without a probable cause.

Just because you don’t see this employee in person, it doesn’t imply low productivity. For creating accountability, there are monitoring tools that assist in achieving transparency and maintenance of a healthy team climate. Performing the “watcher” role yourself may cause troublesome side effects.

2️⃣ Do not change your schedule randomly

Furthermore, there often occur misunderstandings and delays due to time zones. If the development team is several time zones away from you, it’s even more important to communicate on a previously agreed-upon schedule.

To help with that, have the World Clock at hand along with a list of bank holidays in the country your team is located in.


3️⃣ Do not lose focus

Imperfect prioritization and poorly formulated tasks, expectations, objectives, etc can also lead to disasters. Likewise, changing things on the go all the time slows things down immensely as such “moves” involve demolishing parts of the completed work and building it up again in a new way.

Therefore, plan comes first alongside priorities that help you not to lose focus and keep eyes on the prize.

Final Say🎯

Although managing a remote development team can be challenging in terms of achieving a great level of productivity, reality check on workforce shows the growing number of freelancers, home office employees, overseas hires, and completely remote-working companies as the global trend.

Luckily, even if your team is on a different continent, it is more than possible for the collaboration to be a success. The secret of “juggling” the remote processes efficiently lies in:

  • proper planning
  • constant communication
  • choosing the right set of tools.

With the right attitude, distance is an opportunity rather than obstacle. After all, if you’ve obtained your dream team, does it really matter which point of the planet they’re working from?

About the Author

Alex Husar, CTO at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in Magento support and maintenance services and Salesforce development. He graduated from the Czech Technical University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering. Alex’s expertise includes both full-stack dev skills and a strong ability to provide project-critical guidance to the whole team.