4 Tips For Keeping Remote Dev Teams Motivated by@sergey.valuy

4 Tips For Keeping Remote Dev Teams Motivated

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Sergey Valuy

Co-founder and CTO at Smartym Pro, a software development company located in Eastern Europe.

Every month, dozens of software development companies come up with hundreds of ways for distributed teams to cooperate efficiently, as if they were working side by side in an open-plan office—online collaboration tools, audio and video conferencing solutions, project management systems, time tracking applications, etc.

Here are a few relevant findings from various studies conducted on remote work in the last half decade:

  1. A 2015 study by Stanford University revealed many advantages of remote work. They include less time for commuting, reduced costs, and improved autonomy. 
  2. As of 2019, 66% of organizations let employees cooperate remotely, while 13% are completely remote and distributed. 
  3. According to the survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, remote work has increased 91% over the last 10 years, and 159% over the last 12 years. 
  4. Analysts at UpWork predict that 73% of companies will engage remote workforce by 2028. It also reports that younger generations are 28% more willing to work remotely compared to older generations.
  5. Since the end of January 2020, the use of tools for remote team collaboration had dramatically increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is noteworthy that shares of Zoom Technologies  (the world-famous communications equipment company) more than tripled for the past 5 weeks, while Zoom Video rose over 30%.

So, the popularity of remote collaboration is quickly growing.

In the height of the current coronavirus pandemic, companies from all over the world have asked employees to work from home. As a result, today project managers have to learn new skills for monitoring the specialists’ progress.

At first, it may seem that assembling a distributed team is almost the same that dealing with a full-fledged onsite team. However, there are many challenges, among which motivation is the most crucial.

When employees are not motivated, they complete tasks less effectively. That’s why it’s so important to drive their interest and trigger their energy. 

In fact, working with remote software developers requires twice as much proactivity and efforts for building a spirit of strong cooperation. The main goal is to find a balance between control, process transparency, and flexibility. 

In our company, most of our specialists generally work in the office but we’ve been also working with distant employees for about 10 years. However, in terms of COVID-9, the majority of our members perform their duties from home.

I work for Smartym Pro, and we've put a lot of effort to find the best approach to motivate remote colleagues.

In this article, we are happy to share useful recommendations based on our personal experience of working as a remote dedicated development team. 

1. Give positive feedback 

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Everyone wants to feel their value. Unfortunately, numerous project managers just take great results accomplished by the team for granted. However, sometimes employees are noticed only if they’ve made a mistake. This kind of attitude is absolutely demotivating!

Here at Smartym Pro, our managers encourage our software experts using various chats and video meeting tools providing them with motivational boosts to continue working the same way and even better!

2. Show your trust

Trust is one of the most important motivational techniques. If a project manager or a business owner doesn’t trust their remote software specialists (for example, asking every 5-10 minutes what they do), employees will feel insecure, unconfident, and as result—demotivated. 

The best thing to do is to give team members detailed instructions, clarify each other’s responsibilities, and provide them with some sense of freedom. Not sure that specialist will do everything right or are afraid of not meeting deadlines? 

Make sure that all tasks are totally clear and ask everyone to create reports in time tracking systems. In our web and mobile development company, we also ask distant employees to send short messages with a status report to monitor their progress.

3. Take care of team building 

Remote employees and people who suffer social phobia are not equal things. So, it’s important to ensure team cohesion. Here you can start with becoming a friend to other specialists. Ask them, how they’re doing, make an effort to learn them better, their hobbies, interests. Organize online video calls with the rest of your team to have a better connection.

One of the best things we always do is inviting all of our remote specialists to the annual corporate parties and meetings (if necessary). This helps improve cooperation making the project development easier and more enjoyable.

4. Use audio and video collaboration tools

Having a set of easy-to-use collaboration tools is truly helpful when it comes to working with remote employees. The right choice of mobile and web applications will allow you to save a lot of time and effort. When using them, it’s much easier to ensure convenient communication, process transparency, and effective cooperation. 

To avoid any misconceptions and confusions between onsite and remote team members, make sure that you’ve provided them with all the necessary tools that may include messengers, audio and video meeting solutions, time tracking and project management systems.

In our workflow, we use the following tools:

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Google Hangouts—is used for online team video-meetings. We believe that face-to-face meetings are very important as eye contact (although through the computer screen) creates a better connection rather than just letters and symbols on the screen or a voice without an image.

Dropbox, Google Suite—our specialists use it for file sharing and storage. Both solutions are intuitive and allow the number of people to work with the same documents.

Redmine—an easy-to-use tool for project management, bug tracking, and time logging.

Gitlab—is employed for joint work of software engineers.

Invision—the tool that enables business analysts, project managers, developers, UI/UX designers, and even the customer to work together on creating dynamic visual prototypes.  

Slack—is used for daily team communications. We set up channels both where software development discussions take place and just for fun—where employees can share anything they want: memes, links, images, invitations to play bowling, etc.

Conclusion

The modern conception of traditional workplace changes, as well as the role and responsibilities of a manager. Remember, that the success of a distributed team largely depends on project management. 

Don’t be too strict, don’t push too hard with control, add positivity, and maintain warm relations between your team members. Provide specialists with everything they need to efficiently complete tasks and deliver the best product possible. 

The atmosphere of trust, honesty, and comfort together with adequate management is a winning motivational mix for remote software development teams. 

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