Managing Remote Teams

Kasandra Stawska
Apr 21 · 6 min read

Most of the things we considered to be a normal working routine have now undergone a significant change and whether we like it or not, we have to adjust to the new reality. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, remote work has become the buzz word of the recent weeks, which is more than understandable, taking into account how many people had to basically switch to the home office reality overnight. Everyone appreciates tips like: ‘Don’t stay in your PJs all day!’, ‘Control you work-life balance’, or ‘Your bed is your chill space, not your desk!’, but what is it like to actually manage an entire team of people, while each of them works remotely?

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Jit Team cooperates with clients from many European countries. Teams of Jiters work remotely from our Gdynia office.

What has changed?

Jit teams have been working remotely for our clients even before the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. That’s our business model, but does it mean nothing has changed in the recent weeks? Things have changed, and here is how: in normal circumstances, a team of developers working remotely for one of our European clients, would simply sit in one room and be able to freely exchange ideas and comments about the tasks they are supposed to complete on that particular day. Then, they would remotely report the work done to the client. Sometimes, we would just hop on a plane and visit our client to decide on important matters, which has become impossible. Now, each member of the team of developers works from their home. As a result, we are now handling ‘double remote’ mode. All the necessary decisions have to be made remotely.

Helpful tips by Jit Team leaders

Building remote teams of professionals is our thing! Jit Team specializes in that. We have asked some of the finest Jit leaders to share their insights and stories about working remotely for our clients — oh boy, they do have plenty of them… Here they are:

· Set the rules — to make sure the cooperation between remote teams is smooth and unproblematic, there have to be ground rules. Everyone should know what is expected of them and the client should for sure know how the remote team is going to report their progress and daily tasks. It is vital to avoid any misunderstandings and keep the cooperation transparent and fair.

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· Keep your partner in the loop — letting a remote team take care of your software requires a lot of trust and patience, since software is not simply delivered in a matter of days. No wonder then, that the clients want to be able to track the team’s progress and daily work. The best way to keep the cooperation fair is to keep a record of all the work done and in progress— it helps members of the team to be up to date with what’s done and the client satisfied because they know that every day you make an effort to deliver their solution. So may your Jira and Confluence be neat and organized! No one likes to deliver detailed reports of their daily work. Especially software developers, who may think you are over-controlling or micro-managing them. Therefore, a special effort of a leader and the team is needed here, to build a healthy culture of trust and full transparency.

· Hold only some of the meetings — an anonymous philosopher once said: ‘Nothing makes a developer more tired, than a day full of meetings which could have been e-mails’. How can we interpret that? Have a quick call if the matter is important, but do not go on for hours, when you know that the discussion is not heading anywhere. Be flexible, adjust to the situation and learn how to recognize if a meeting/call is needed or not. It will save the time of the team, which could be spent on developing software!

· Be aware of what your internet connection can handle — working remotely from your couch might be comfortable for you, but it puts extra work on your internet connection. Before having an important meeting, double-check if your flatmates are not at a call at the same time, or if your kids are not watching a cartoon in 4K. If you are facing connection problems, switch the camera off, because nothing puts people more at the end of their tethers than a call being interrupted by someone losing connection. Discover what possibilities your communicator has — in most of the cases, there are many functions which can make the quality of your call better.

· Make the communication effective — while working remotely for a client, there are many channels of communication that need to work perfectly. The first one, reporting to the client, was already covered. The other one is the communication within the team. Open a channel in your communicator which includes every single member of your team. Use the channel to notify people, that you are starting your work and finishing your work — this way everyone will know when you are available. The channel can also keep the team spirit up when facing situation, such as the present one, you can talk about the topics you would usually discuss if you were all present in the office.

· While working remotely, you need to be even more organized than in the office. Remember, you cooperate with other people, and often your work influences the work of others, so document your work and progress well and everything will be fine. Being more organized and working remotely also means sticking to core hours agreed on by the team and informing your teammates whenever you have to walk away from your laptop.

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All of the above are ways of building solid foundations of practical and dynamic cooperation between and within remote teams. Funny enough, the Jit Team leaders, when asked about managing remote teams, had this one peculiar but very useful tip for everyone working remotely:

· Wear shoes! Yes, seriously! Shoes make your brain feel like you are not at home and that allows you to concentrate more — for real, try it!

· Keep some of the communication with the client informal. Make sure that you know the client and their employees at least just a little bit. Small talking will be much easier and natural. Also, what might be considered not obvious, knowing each other and being able to talk about people’s interests or families, makes the cooperation more human and friendly.

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· Learn how to mute your microphone when you are not speaking at a meeting. Not only will it improve the quality of the connection, but it will also make others unable to hear your playing children in the background.

· Discover all the functionalities of communicators you use! You can be surprised how many of them are unknown to you. Everything that makes a call more effective and compelling is a great advantage!

Use the tips well, enjoy the adventure of remote work, and let’s all hope sooner than later, we can go back to our offices and have that real coffee break, which actually includes walking and meeting people face to face. Also, if you are wondering if outsourcing a team of developers is a good idea, we truly hope that this article convinced you how easy it can be to have a team of professionals working on your software and helping your business thrive.

Jit Team

Clever Thoughts by Jit Team

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