Distance work is a labor alternative that has been implemented for some years and has led companies to digitize their processes and implement new tools for collaborative work. Fortunately for computer programmers and web developers, working remotely is extremely common, and even preferred with some organizations.
In the face of special circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a real necessity to establish digital operations to keep businesses and the economy afloat.
However, this type of distance working presents new challenges for traditional management, challenges for which we must be prepared if we do not want the team to break down or fail.
In this article, we want to share some important steps when setting up your team of remote developers. These will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes that occur when setting up and managing remote work teams.
Hosting Your Online Presence
Whether you are a freelancer or employ a team of remote developers, you will probably need some sort of web hosting for your digital assets. For the sake of stability, it would be recommended to rent out managed servers for your cloud hosting needs.
Having cloud hosting is useful for:
- Hosting online portfolios – clients see self-hosted resumes or portfolios as a higher value than free online platforms like Behance.
- Time tracking software – Hosting your in-house software to track hours worked, employee/freelancer payment & more.
- Cloud-based invoicing – If you are charging remote customers through your website, it’s a good idea to host reliable & secure invoicing software.
- Hosting client websites – If your development involves hosting apps, APIs, or websites for customers, then it would be useful to consolidate it within powerful dedicated servers.
- VPN hosting – If you have your dedicated servers, you can have full control of your Virtual Private Network to assure your employees have secure connections to your company. This is especially useful if team members tend to travel & use public WiFi connections.
- Hosting CRM software – This is useful if you need to host a large database of interactions between customers and employees, allowing for more efficient followups.
Communication tools play a very important role in teams working remotely. This is why many companies have taken up Slack or Zoom to handle online communications, heavily focusing on conference calls.
Of course, there are lot’s of tools available, including:
- GitDuck (like Zoom but for programmers)
- Jitsi (see our article on using Jitsi Meet)
- Google Hangouts
- Microsoft Teams
- Discord (popular with the younger crowd)
- Gmail (with apps & plugins)
- WhatsApp Business
If you manage a community that has members in different countries, you need to set a day and time when everyone can be there. It is advisable to check with Google the time used in each zone or country.
Just as you have a personal and a work email, you should apply the same criteria to your work chat. Professional conversations and files should be secure and follow certain guidelines.
By using a private and closed communication system, you can ensure that your company’s information remains secure and less vulnerable to possible leaks. Make sure that your work communication platform is closed and that only your team can access the data.
Set Rules and Maintain Order
If your workforce had previously been offline-only, you will be presented with trying to manage order and online etiquette. Employees that had never worked online probably have trouble maintaining composure and professionalism as the internet is more of an outlet for pleasure.
Using the previously mentioned communication tools, you should have daily check-ins with video conferencing, allowing everyone to have a moment of input. Letting everyone see each-other face-to-face at least once a day reminds them of the human component often lost in text chat.
You should also establish certain “rules of engagement”, declaring certain means of communication appropriate for certain functions. For example, you may want urgent messages vial calls in Skype, or non-urgent updates sent via email.
Since non-professional behavior has been prevalent during the pandemic, you also should establish rules regarding inter-employee chatting while on the clock. It may help to restrict communication to channels where you have full access to chat logs so that you can keep tabs on troublemakers.
Checking on Employee Productivity
Another positive feature of decentralized equipment is that it is constantly changing. Team members are very dependent on their environment and processes, which can change the situation of each member and affect productivity.
There are software suites that let you visualize where employees are spending most of their time, like Timely or Everhour. This allows you to shift your employees in the right direction to save time & money.
Periodically review your productivity indicators. Observe how they evolve according to the different changes you make to determine the best way to work together. Adaptation is a very important part of this type of team.
Separating Professional & Personal Communication
For you, or anyone else in a management position, it’s important to isolate your professional life from your one.
For example, if you need to use your cell phone, we recommend that you have a dedicated work number separate from your number even if you work from home. Do not give your clients or certain employees your landline or personal cell phone. Once the day is over you can turn off your mobile and leave a message with the time when you will be available the next day.
This logic can also be applied with your social media accounts, chat applications, etc…