NAVIGATE REMOTE TECH TEAMS WITH EASE: TIPS FOR SOFTWARE LEADERS
Before the Pandemic hit its peak in April 2020, the United States labor force topped at 164.6 million workers. According to Owl Labs’ survey, during COVID-19, about 70% of full-time employees were transferred to work from home for obvious reasons. But then something interesting happened: employees started experiencing all the benefits of remote employment and many of them didn’t want to return to their old way of working.
Now 92% of Owl Labs respondents anticipate working from home at least once a week, and 80% expect to be working remotely three days per week. A report by Upwork predicts that 36.2 million workers, or 22% of Americans, will be working remotely by 2025.
Work-from-home may be the only option for some employees, while others may struggle to adjust to this new routine. Many believe it is arduous to streamline your day and develop a reliable rapport with a remote workforce. HR professionals in the software industry must be aware of the unique challenges of supervising remote workers and assisting them with adjusting to their new circumstances.
To help with this challenge, we’ve collected 12 of the most useful tips SaaS companies should follow for effective management of work-from-home tech professionals.
Pros and cons of telework for the IT employer
The traditional nine-to-five workday is gradually becoming a thing of the past, as more and more software companies are embracing the advantages of adapting remote work opportunities. Even though working from home is not a panacea, it offers a number of benefits for employers and business owners.
Wider hiring pool
Perhaps the most significant benefit of telecommuting is the ability to attract and retain top tech talent. In today’s competitive job market, talented workers from all corners of the earth are increasingly looking for companies that offer flexible work arrangements. By providing the option to work from home, employers can tap into a larger pool of potential candidates and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Higher productivity rates
Studies show that employees feel much happier and more engaged and demonstrate higher productivity indexes when they don’t have to waste hours in traffic jams and deal with distracting office politics. FlexJobs found that 65% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working from home. And higher personal productivity means better results for the SaaS company.
Retention rate increase
As remote work can also help to promote work-life balance, it boosts the level of employees’ job satisfaction. As a result, virtual employees are more likely to stay with a company for an extended period of time, thereby increasing retention rates. According to Global Workplace Analytics, this may save organizations up to $30,000 per employee every year.
Reduction in company cost
Small company entrepreneurs that organize remote work for all departments save significant assets by avoiding the costs of maintaining a physical location. For instance, rent, equipment, furniture, office supplies, and utilities are all expenses that can be cut with a remote workforce. Nearly 6 of 10 firms surveyed by Global Workplace Analytics mentioned cost savings as a major benefit of telecommuting.
While there are a number of benefits of allowing tech professionals to telecommute, there are also several drawbacks that should be considered.
Absence of direct communication
One of the greatest concerns for software company employers is the lack of face-to-face interaction when workers are remote. It can make building trust and rapport difficult and lead to poorer communication and collaboration. This is a great concern, but company owners may avoid collaboration issues using video conferencing, instant messaging, and other communication technologies.
Risk of losing control
Many business owners used to resist the idea of allowing their workforce to work from home since it meant giving up some control. They must put their faith in their personnel to complete the task at hand without the boss’s continual supervision. It’s not an issue if you’ve hired the appropriate person. But there’s a risk it might have a detrimental impact on your firm.
Productivity may go down
Some remote tech pros can be easily distracted by kids, pets, friends, tv-shows, house chores, and other commitments. In case the employee is unable to organize his workplace at home and establish personal control over his performance, it can reduce productivity significantly.
And finally, employer-provided benefits like health insurance and retirement plan contributions can be more expensive for software companies using remote staff. But as an absence of physical office allows one to save a considerable fortune, this drawback is not so substantial.
How to effectively manage remote tech team
1. Set up the rules
Everyone has a different conception of what it means to complete a task quickly or adequately. Define your expectations and ensure that remote tech professionals have the same interpretation. Use shared systems for task management and performance evaluation. It will assist in preparing remote staff and preventing misunderstandings. The better worker’s preparation for the company’s needs, the more productive his work will be.
2. Create a communication strategy
Remote managing of a productive team starts with a communication strategy. First, organize an appropriate number of weekly reports. Second, establish leadership principles for day-to-day tasks. Some people work better with a list of questions and suggestions, while others prefer a clear, detailed plan. Understanding of goals’ urgency levels will allow you to achieve maximum productivity.
3. Provide the necessary working tools
If remote employees can’t upload files, have trouble with the sound on the phone, and constantly receive emails at an inconvenient time, you fail at solving the core issues. Invest in reliable working tools to make cooperation comfortable for both parties and develop precise processes for using these tools.
4. Focus on goals
Managing expectations and maintaining a goal-oriented mindset is essential when dealing with online tech staff. Focus on what is already accomplished rather than what is being done. If you reach your objectives, that’s great. Otherwise, it is worthwhile to continue working on it.
5. Career opportunities
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of remote team members as employees who help solve business problems. But, just like the onsite office team, they have their own goals and aspirations. Take the time to discuss career opportunities with a work-from-home employee in a one-to-one meeting.
6. Treat remotes like locals
Do not ignore the existence of remote workers. Keep in mind that your office coworkers can get answers immediately. An online tech pro on the other side of the screen is deprived of this opportunity. Try to respond to questions or clarifications promptly. It will facilitate not only a better understanding of the firm and the project but also the formation of personal relationships.
7. Use video technologies
Explore video conferencing possibilities. For a remote employee, it is critical to know that he is a part of the team and to see his colleagues’ faces in real-time. Discuss significant issues via live video broadcasts linked together. Skype, Zoom, Google meet, and other low-cost, accessible, and open-source video chat programs eliminate the need to use video wherever you need.
8. Avoid the wrong task setting
Teach individuals to stay on course, remain engaged and focused, and become sidetracked only when necessary. Never-ending emails containing assignments and suggestions can bury productivity. Try to send task-related emails first thing in the morning.
9. Communicate Regularly
Use multiple channels for communication. Plan in-person meetings and introduce the company’s culture to distant employees whenever possible. Continuous interaction will assist virtual staff to feel like they are a part of the organization.
10. Track performance
Some software companies are not ready to deal with remote employees because of the fear that working from home cannot be as effective as onsite, and deadlines will certainly be missed. Don’t use time tracking software to keep track of remote colleagues. It is much more effective to evaluate the result rather than the time spent.
11. Document everything
There are no “unwritten rules” when moving to telework. Everything must be documented, even if it’s an intermediate solution. Each meeting should have a plan and minutes of decisions. When working remotely, especially in different time zones, people work asynchronously, and continuous documentation, even in the form of a brief message on a Slack channel, helps compensate for the reduced volume of live communications.
12. Use emoticons and animations
Considering that the bulk of communication is non-verbal, it isn’t easy to convey in one word what you think, especially in the workflow, when dishes can be perceived more aggressively. See how the reaction improves if you include a positive emoji or gifs while chatting. You can achieve a similar effect when sending an email by appending an emoji to demonstrate that you are not being too serious.
Managing a remote tech team is difficult; keeping track of team members’ results and workflow is much more complicated than in the office. But you just have to start and be guided by logic and common sense in your work – and you will surely succeed. Thus, you can create a group of remote colleagues who will help you achieve company goals faster and with the best results.
If you would like to learn how to implement and manage the remote tech workforce, book a call with me or my team at Snap Talent International. We would be happy to share additional insights into the online employment market and how you can take full advantage of this opportunity.