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Remote Engineering Teams are the Trend. Here are Tips on How to Manage Yours
Now more than ever, the adoption of remote engineering teams is on the rise. This is hardly surprising, as organisations generally cut costs by integrating a remote workplace culture. Remote work also ensures that more companies can pull staff from a host of global talent, as opposed to the locational restrictions posed by physical work.
Also, the recent pandemic catalysed a transition to remote engineering teams. For example, a survey by Andela found that between 2020 and 2021 alone, the number of remote engineering teams rose from 13% to 74%.
No doubt, these statistics show the growing popularity of remote engineering teams. However, they also pose a concern. This is because many businesses and engineering managers are largely ignorant about the effective management of remote engineering teams. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the best practices for remote team management.
Why You Should Prioritise Proper Remote Team Management
There are numerous benefits of remote working. It cuts costs, provides greater flexibility for workers, and results in higher productivity. However, the ability to reap these benefits, particularly within the context of remote engineering, is dependent on proper management. Hence, for your remote engineering team to maintain a significant measure of productivity and a high rate of team welfare, you need to pay closer attention to proper team management.
Tips on How to Manage Your Remote Engineering Team
While the management approach for specific teams may differ, there are general rules that will ensure the continued effectiveness of your remote engineering team. They are:
  • Invest in Culture-Fit People

    Team members are the major determinant of a team's productivity. This is why one of the most important hacks for maximising the effectiveness of your remote engineering team is ensuring that engineers fit adequately into the culture of the organisation. Remote teams often create a simulation of non-personal communication amongst team members. A 2021 study discovered that while remote work offers the much-needed flexibility in workplaces, it places a drag on the team spirit that is needed to drive productivity. To reduce this occurrence, it would be helpful to employ culture-fit engineers and equally create a general treatment pattern across all teams. In essence, both the in-house and remote teams are treated equally to promote synergy and reduce the occurrence of unnecessary team divisions. For example, software development teams like YouDigital have been operating remotely since inception. This long-standing remote model has ensured that YouDigital's engineers are well accustomed to one another and can effectively collaborate.

  • Utilise Remote-Working Tools

    Remote engineering teams can often be more difficult to handle compared to physical teams. However, specific remote working tools have become widely recognized for easing team productivity and enhancing communication channels. Most importantly, utilising these tools would ensure minimal cases of task misinterpretations. While you can use many tools to achieve good team management, a few stand out. They are:

1
Slack:

Slack is currently one of the most popular remote working tools, and for good reason. The app functions as an all-in-one remote working toolbox that provides essential features like voice and video calls to aid communication and department-like features to improve collaboration.

2
Trello:

Since the rise of remote work in 2020, Trello has become one of the most suitable workspaces for remote engineering teams. This is because the platform provides a task-card feature that enables easy collaboration from idea inception to product launch. Also, Trello enables a timeline view feature which ensures that all engineers are up-to-date on allocated sprints and deadlines. 

3
Zoom:

While Zoom is more limited in comparison with the above-mentioned tools, its contribution to the effectiveness of remote engineering teams is equally significant. Zoom provides team calls during which you can activate screen-sharing features. This enhances a more general understanding of project requirements and also improves group synergy. 

4
Webex:

Three primary tools stand out on WebEx, particularly for remote engineering teams. Group-enabled messaging features, document-sending and editing software, and video conferencing features. These three are important in ensuring adequate intra-team support.

  • Boost Team-wide Communication

    While one of the primary benefits of remote engineering is access to a pool of global skills, it also poses a challenge. This challenge is hinged on time-zone differences and the difficulty of creating an all-inclusive schedule for the whole team. However, while time-zone differences may be concerning, these differences can be used to fast-track the team's efficiency. Your company can achieve this by dividing tasks into individual bits such that each person has a unique job description within the ambits of a specific project. This way, team members with advanced time zones can work ahead on a project, while other team members can subsequently take over the tasks.

  • Create a Clear-Cut Task Delivery Process

    Engineering teams often work in accordance with deadlines. This is because many products are time-sensitive. However, the ability to meet deadlines can be affected by remote working. To maintain task delivery pace, it is important to draw out a clear and simple process for team members to turn in their completed tasks. One way to achieve this is by creating task sprints that detail the type of project the team would be working on and the strategy for dealing with the project. This way, engineers gain significant headway on the timeframe for which task delivery is required and adequately plan around this timeframe. In addition to this, a reward system should also be created for engineers. This would serve as a strong incentive for productivity and boost the overall team morale.

  • Develop a Long-Term Strategy

    Integrating a day-to-day management approach is not particularly suitable for remote engineering teams. As opposed to this, it would be helpful to communicate the long-term goals to the team regularly. This way, tasks are not assigned in bits, and engineers can easily perform tasks at a stretch. This reduces micro-management and ensures that engineers are given the freedom to get creative with their solutions.

  • Clarifying Member-Specific Roles

    The key to achieving synergy in remote engineering teams is to spell out the roles of each team member. This would significantly reduce the occurrence of task clashes within the team.

Conclusion
It has been established that proper cost estimation strongly determines the outcome of a project. Thus, before embarking on a project, ensure that you are intentional about getting a near-accurate estimation.

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