Building a world-beating development team with only local talent has been increasingly challenging for tech organizations in recent years. Leveraging a geographically dispersed workforce is now the best way to optimize your team.
What’s more, in 2020 a global pandemic struck in the form of COVID, pushing teams out of the office and into remote work environments. Organizations can take advantage of this secondary shift to virtual teams as an increased tolerance of working from home enables recruitment in an international pool.
Whilst the upsides of a remote team are clear – better talent and reduced cost of infrastructure – team management can become a challenge when your team is dispersed across time zones. Let’s take a look at how remote leaders can offer great management for their team members.
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Building Your Remote Team
The first step towards great leadership is having the right team on board. Identify the skills that will enable your remote team to effectively work from home before you begin the hiring process. Ensure that your team members are capable of working independently and motivating themselves – micromanagement should be reduced to a minimum for a remote workforce to function.
Since you’re a tech company, you shouldn’t have any problem setting up a remote working virtual environment. Make sure you’re utilizing the people you have and the skills you have to ensure you’re setting things up and building your team in the most stable way.
“Effective communication skills also take on greater importance as team meetings increasingly take place through video calls,” says Mason Maldonado, a tech writer at Essayroo and OXessays. “In the absence of face time and the subtleties of body language, your team needs to be capable of direct communication.”
Generating Company Culture
Building the right culture in a virtual environment is an essential element of a team leaders’ role. Team culture can impact every element of remote team members’ performance, from engagement during video conferencing to the ability to work independently without the need for team leaders to follow-up in detail.
When you begin building your remote team, or bring anyone new onboard, be sure to set expectations high for your team. Ensure everyone knows their role and responsibilities and empower them to perform to the highest standard. Running virtual team building exercises is a great way to foster a strong team culture and by encouraging the entire team to contribute this can replace the watercooler for moments of personal bonding that take place in traditional office settings.
There’s no doubt a lot of tech companies offer a laid back and casual approach to working, especially bigger companies like Facebook and Google, and it’s proving to be an effective technique. By being able to manage a balance between work and play, you’ll be able to get the highest level of productivity from your team members.
In the absence of a physical office, an environment that promotes regular contact and feedback, it becomes a challenge for remote leaders to understand how the team is performing on a day-to-day level. Clearly communicating the expectations and goals to the team is one thing, but getting feedback from team members is also an important element of remote team management. Finding ways to promote this form of communication in a remote environment is a remote leadership challenge.
Team leaders should not assume that no news is good news and making time for check-in during one-on-one video conferencing is essential. Having cameras turned on enables a more direct form of contact and leaders should become adept at recognizing subtle signs in eye contact and body language in remote workers.
Since most members of your tech team should be fluent and capable of using most software platforms and applications, then you’ll want to encourage people to let you know whether they have the right tools for the job and the resources they need to get the job done to the best of their abilities.
Getting Time Face-To-Face
“Whilst digital tools such as Zoom and social platforms like LinkedIn enable effective working environments, a complete absence of physical contact can limit your team’s ability to perform,” says Tiffany Woods, an IT expert at UK Assignment Help and PaperFellows. “Interactions in-person build trust and rapport between team members that pays dividends.”
Whilst enabling face-to-face interaction entails a short term cost, enabling this contact to take place can generate long term savings as camaraderie and culture are reinforced and teams ultimately work better throughout the year. Whatever intervals this takes place in, annually or quarterly, for example, will depend on the goals your team is working towards but an in-person check-in is essential for getting the most out of your remote workers.
Diversifying your team across borders and time zones offers huge opportunities for recruiting the best employees for your team, but effective team leadership faces certain challenges in the digital environment. Leadership development on the principles articulated above will help you generate an effective working culture across your team and by balancing digital tools, communication and feedback, and face-to-face check-ins you can make your remote development team a success.