According to the big survey, for 55% of companies, the lack of live interaction with employees caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has become a felt issue. Remote dedicated teams for hire had always been pretty relevant in the industry. But over the past six months, their popularity in the labor market has skyrocketed.
It is only logical that project managers who previously worked only with full-time employees could become confused, not being too savvy in the proper organization of remote team workflow.
This problem is based on the fact that managers have to make lots of preparations and engage in more management routine than when it comes to organizing traditional office work. Let’s see how to approach this moment most properly and efficiently, shall we?
Work with Remote Dedicated Teams – Pros and Cons
First off, let’s figure out what benefits and drawbacks cooperating with remote dedicated teams implies, just for the sake of objectivity.
The pros of the dedicated team include the following:
- perfect conditions for long-term projects – your company and hired remote team grow and develop alongside each other.
- an opportunity to hire the top specialists;
- an ability to decrease project budget;
- no need to train in-house specialists;
- unlimited project development prospects.
As for the cons of the dedicated team:
- a lack of regular control;
- unreasonable for small-scale projects (outstaffing would be a much better solution);
- sometimes, it takes too much time to gather a perfect team.
As you can see, the cons here aren’t that significant as opposed to the pros.
Remote and Local Team Management – How Does it Differ?
When it comes to workflow organization for remote workers, some managers continue acting based on their previous experience of in-house management and, as a result, hinder the performance of newly arrived specialists. Here’s what you need to do to prevent this from happening.
#1 – revise communication methods
When you have to interact with employees remotely, you’re simply unable to constantly monitor everything, just as they are unable to constantly clarify the requirements for a specific task.
That’s why when working with a dedicated team, you need to radically revise all aspects of working communication and start recording literally everything: calls, technical tasks, etc. – you should always keep your hand on the pulse.
Thus, you can achieve transparency in the formulation of tasks and reduce the time of repeated calls/correspondence where details are specified.
#2 – introduce proper new tools
The second thing you have to do is introduce a number of new tools to your business software list.
Usually, these are Slack and similar messengers, as well as more specific collaboration applications (most often Figma, Invision, Miro, Mural are used for these purposes) that allow you to work alongside colleagues in real time.
Surely, you will need some time to get used to working with this software on a regular basis. And some solutions have paid subscriptions. However, software tools that will fill the gaps in the absence of live communication are essential to proper remote workflow organization.
#3 – compose a flexible schedule
You should understand that employees hired to work remotely should have some authority to organize themselves instead of doing everything under the watch of their superiors.
So try to form the most convenient work schedule for everybody out there, which would simply contain clear deadlines and remote meetings (calls) dates. The rest of the time, try to control your hired force as little as possible, so as not to put excessive psychological pressure on them.
Tips for Maximum Optimization of Interacting with Remote Dedicated Teams
We have clarified three fundamental differences between the remote and the local work format. Let’s now see which simple tactics can be used to further optimize the interaction with dedicated software development teams.
Despite the fact that you may theoretically never see your remote workers live, you will have to trust them much more than even those who work in the office locally. And this is an essential thing that you have to come to terms with.
Because constant checks of remote workers will never get it right: checking each of them, going through their activity during each hour on their time will take too much of your own time that could be spent much more productively. In addition, you will get bogged down in the management of even the most insignificant tasks.
To deal with this, just don’t expect too much from your team. Initially, your subordinates will never work with the same commitment and dedication as the staff member whose photo is framed on the wall with the caption “Best Employee of the Month/Year/Cenozoic Era, etc.”. You have to trust the expertise of those you hire and then you will be pleasantly amazed with what zeal and dedication people are able to work when they are not pressured.
Surely, an individual approach is still in place. It’s always best to pick remote job candidates who already have experience in remote work and who are able to grasp all the peculiarities and policies of your company.
Here’s what the standard recruiting algorithm looks like for companies with remote jobs. First, you get a job application – usually a resume along with a cover letter. Here, you must evaluate not only the hard skills of the candidate for the position but also assess their initial motivations and the ability to think logically.
Next, you should offer the candidate to complete a test task with a clearly specified deadline. As practice shows, it is this stage that allows you to weed out non-professionals/optional/simply strange candidates shouldn’t better be involved with your project long-term.
You will also understand whether the candidate is able to independently cope with the task assigned to him/her, without constant supervision by the authorities and constant clarification of the assignment details and requests for help.
And, of course, the third and final stage is a Skype interview, in which you will understand how the set of soft skills inherent in a particular candidate suits you.
Make sure employees are always in touch
This is another extremely important aspect of remote team management, which to some extent contradicts the previous recommendation. Nevertheless, in this tactic, we simply insist on maintaining that very balance, so as not to overstep control, and not to let things go too loose.
If you notice that your remote subordinates stopped answering your questions about work on time (or within the allowed time) or give vague answers about the deadlines for completing tasks, this is a clear reason to start worrying about the task’s progress.
Generally speaking, there is a certain algorithm for remote communication, which, regardless of who you are working with – an introvert or an extrovert, allows you to objectively assess as much as possible whether you should count on the seriousness of your subordinate’s commitment.
Usually, employees may “disappear from sight” in two cases: when an employee ceases to cope with the task assigned and when work burnout sets in (tasks seem monotonous, salary grows at insignificant rates, career growth is nowhere to look for in the near future).
Whatever the case, if you notice that the employee is sluggish and reluctant to respond to your messages, have a personal conversation and directly ask what makes them behave that way. You can probably fix this issue in no time at all and this approach will cost you much less than finding and hiring a new remote worker.
Missed a deadline? No big deal
Situations with missed deadlines are quite common and, pretty much, inevitable. That’s why it’s definitely not worth making a tragedy from this event. Likewise, you shouldn’t scold the guilty employees.
Smart managers usually bring up the topic in a personal conversation, asking the person what it takes to move forward in their work. Ask also if your subordinate needs someone else to help with the task. Usually, solving these two issues helps to close the unfinished task very quickly and hand it over to the client.
It is great to check the results of work done on the same day after the conversation (even if the task is too big and its completion requires several days of work).
All in all, failure to complete a task is not necessarily a sign that your team member has been slacking off and missing deadlines. It also happens that, for some completely objective reasons, employees cease to cope with their usual workload and stop fulfilling the tasks assigned to them on time. You will notice this if the work is progressing, but not at the speed that you originally expected.
The best way to deal with poor performance is to ask the person directly what exactly happened, what is hindering them, and what you can do to make their work smoother. Ask the person to reconsider their goals and priorities, be honest, this is very important for maintaining trust.
One thing – try to never escalate the situation in hand – your subordinate is already aware of their guilt. After all, if you work in a team, focusing on individuals and their personal problems won’t help you move forward together.
It might make sense to discuss the problem of the unfulfilled task (and not the problem of a specific employee who was responsible for its implementation) in the group. It’s extremely important here to teach the team to be responsible for each other, to provide support, and in this way overcome obstacles, even when everybody’s remote.
Boost team motivation
Organizing the performance of remote workers, it’s also important to clearly demonstrate the mission and core values of your company. They are the main link for your remote team. Really, no matter how attractive the rates you offer are, your remote worker will need something more than a plain salary to feel cherished and essential in your team.
General meetings are necessary for managing a remote team. And there should be a place for interpersonal informal interaction during them. Such meetings can discuss the company’s plans for the near future, its global goals, as well as put forward personal initiatives of your employees regarding the optimization of work processes.
Try to also introduce some kind of reward system – even the smallest gifts for birthdays and Christmas will make your subordinates remember that your company has a warm and grateful team with cool bosses.
Introduce clear rules
None of the above tactics to help manage a dedicated team will be effective unless you first define a set of clear and unambiguous rules that must be followed by all members of your remote team.
These should include the schedule of meetings everyone is required to attend, the system of penalties (optionally), the regularity of salary revisions, and the format of interpersonal interaction between employees (what is considered acceptable within the chain of command and what is not). The rules must be uniform and equally valid for all team members.
Adjust personal communication between workers
Lastly, the need to clarify the set tasks is paramount. Naturally, people perceive up to 60% of information through non-verbal interaction with the interlocutor. That’s why working remotely, the team loses this valuable 60%. This means that one of your priority tasks should be to replenish the lost connection through an alternative communication system.
Usually, such issues are completely handled with well-picked software (we have already discussed it briefly above). You will need to get a convenient and intuitive task manager (Zoho Projects and Trello will help). They will help you avoid confusion, loss or duplication of tasks.
Next, you will need to create a centralized information space, where general documents and everything that is necessary for comfortable work will be posted. And, most importantly, always ask employees to explain how they understood the task. This will save all of you a lot of time, energy, and nerves.
With this approach, your team will very quickly form a single scheme for transferring tasks to work: first, the task is assigned in the task manager, then the employee summarizes the technical task assigned to him/her (while you analyze whether they understood correctly what is expected of him).
As you can see, the differences in managing a remote team and a team working in a local office are significant, so managers have to revise the traditional approaches and interaction tools.
If you don’t want to endure a single minute of downtime due to the recruitment of remote workers or the partial/complete transition of your office to a remote work format, you should immediately contact us. Our remote software development team will take full responsibility for the implementation of your project and for the set-up process at relevant software. This gives you a professional solution while saving your time and money.