5 Smart Ways to Address Challenges of Managing Remote Teams in 2020

Managing Remote Teams

Remote is the new normal. At least that is what the pandemic forced us to accept. Several software companies have already implemented either the telecommuting model or offshore team model for a very long time.

Some companies have taken more a traditional approach of having teams under their own roof, despite all the benefits the software offshoring would offer. Remote and distributed teams are now universally viewed as an important component and the necessity of a global software company’s growth strategy.

An increasing number of global organizations are adopting the remote work concept because it gives them the freedom to find the best talent regardless of location, saves considerable money, reduces office overhead, and improves productivity.

Remote software teams can be highly productive and yield remarkable business results due to the availability of mobile and cloud technologies and various other online communication tools. So, the days of traditional thinking are challenged firstly due to the available technologies and further fuelled by the need created by COVID crisis.

Let’s take a quick view of some of the key aspects in a remote working environment and how proper attention to these factors can help you master managing a remote team.

1. Regular communication with the team

In multi-location projects, teams and individuals may have to deal with challenges in the technical aspects of the projects, as well as with the cultural and behavioural aspects of human beings. Good cooperation between all team members prevents wrong designs or wrong development and helps in getting a solid deliverable.

To enable good cooperation, remote companies have to make sure that the right conditions are available in order to be as effective as possible. The most effective medium for creating a congenial atmosphere for fruitful cooperation is communication.

Maintaining regular communication is one of the key factors for any remote team’s success. However, this often turns out to be the biggest reasons why remote teams fail. In many cases, organizations don’t bother to communicate regularly or systematically with remote team members. There are plenty of options available to communicate with team members, you just have to choose the right one based on your team size and specific requirement.

2. Emphasise collaboration and leadership

A remote team has to collaborate with each other frequently to do their job properly and more importantly to be successful in whatever they do as an organization. Building collaboration among your remote team members working far away from each other becomes simple if you have the right mindset and a bit of commitment.

Providing leadership in the remote working scenario is very important. People can often get stuck with an issue and could not move forward to make progress. It is essential that the remote team is empowered by a senior person who can remove their obstacles either by solving the issue or point to the right people.

If your team is made up of members from different cultures and nationalities, then it becomes more important for you to foster respect and understanding for the cultures involved. This will only help the team to unite, but also encourage them to think collaboratively. This is where leadership acts as a glue to make the team stick together.

And finally, you can use efficient collaboration tools to increase employee mobility and enable staff to access company data anywhere and anytime.

3. Your team can be remote, but it should be dedicated for you

Thanks to the possibilities of today, your technology team can be anywhere on the planet. Still, having the right team for the right job can be a challenging task.

Finding and hiring the best talent from anywhere in the world is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons why many tech companies consider the remote team. However, it would seem like a daunting task for many companies which are new to this concept and clueless about how to hire the right talent. Initially, you don’t have to hire someone full time, instead hire a person for a small project and you can judge if he/she suits well with that kind of working environment.

On the other hand, there are several small to mid-sized ISV businesses which work with remote teams that are provided by reputable offshoring partner. When opting for a dedicated team, you get to make a call on who gets hired, from a pool of vetted professionals who have already gone through various levels of qualification by the offshoring service provider, thereby maximizing the chances of finding highly skilled talent for your development requirement.

In this kind of arrangement, a dedicated team is directly hired by the engaging customer and all subsequent operations of the team are supervised directly by the customer.

4. Measure improvements, don’t do policing on tasks

Remote teams have the challenge of proving efficiency, productivity, and proper return on investments. This need is even stronger, especially among tech startups. Companies which prefer remote team concept do it mainly because it provides access to amazing talent anywhere in the world. But how can an organization ensure that its remote team members are spending the appropriate amount of time actually working?

Encourage your remote team members to define measurements and measure improvements. This is a very practical way of assessing the efficiency in the agile software development.

Encourage your remote team members to ask questions. Creating an environment where people feel safe asking the simplest of questions and you will save countless hours of pointless work headed in the wrong direction. Checking in daily, regardless of the tool you use, will help keep everyone working in the same direction and this, in turn, is going to boost team productivity.

5. Multiculturalism and Workplace diversity

Multicultural teams are becoming a common thing among global tech companies due to workforce globalization. Though it has gained a lot of popularity, handling multicultural teams is not easy, as they are made up of people from different social and professional cultures. Companies that have truly mastered the art of managing remote teams, encourage their team to provide ideas, suggestions, and contribute to initiatives that they’re interested in.

Distributed remote teams also give a very positive dimension to the company, in terms of workplace diversity. This will lead to a good global citizen attitude among staff by working with colleagues from different backgrounds.

If remote software teams are engaged and channelized in the right manner, they can bring software organizations a manifold competitive advantage of better performance, creativity, innovation, and more importantly, making their organization’s presence felt around the world.

    Kiran Madhunapantula, COO

    Kiran Madhunapantula, COO

    Kiran Madhunapantula is passionate about radical trends in software development using techniques like Lean Software Development and Scrum, building high-performance teams, and organizing distributed innovation.

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    1 Comment
    • Reply Shiva Prasad

      July 11, 2020, 12:00 pm

      Begin with the end in mind!
      Whether teams are working in the conventional office setting or when they are remote (the new normal, for the foreseeable future, it seems), what truly empowers them is the “crystal clear specification of what defines a project’s success” – and this is the job of the Project Leader / Sponsor / Manager.
      Do this one thing well at the inception of the project and watch how your team members thrive through personal goal-setting, discipline, timely & productive collaboration and a sense of pride in their outputs.
      The rest of the operational challenges or aspects mentioned above simply cannot stop remote teams from achieving “success” – if only they knew very well from the beginning what it looks like & feels like!

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