The coronavirus outbreak is forcing businesses of all kinds to consider remote work, many for the first time. All-remote teams face different challenges than teams in which individuals work from home occasionally. Engineering teams suddenly forced to contemplate 100% remote teamwork for the first time and on short notice, the idea can be daunting–especially when deadlines for product delivery don’t change.
Moving to all-remote work doesn’t have to slow you down. At Andela, we’ve hired thousands of engineers and partnered with hundreds of companies to scale their teams, and many find that remote teams are more successful and employees are more satisfied than when office-based. This article shares three best practices from our playbook to make a successful transition to all-distributed engineering:
We’ll go into more detail in these best practices in the upcoming webinar, “Are You Ready for Remote Work? How Engineering Teams Can Thrive With or Without the Office,” March 19 at 1:00 PM EST/10:00 AM PST. Sha Ma, VP of Engineering for remote work pioneer GitHub will join experts from Andela to share from their experiences managing successful all-distributed teams.
Communication in this context is about how your team shares information. It is important to have ground rules for how the team communicates and for how communication tools are used. For example, many teams use a combination of email, instant messaging platforms like Slack, and video conferencing tools like Zoom. Guidelines about how to use them streamline expectations. For example, you can agree that different tools are used for different types of communication, like Slack for is only for urgent messages that require an immediate response. That way all team members understand the expectations for responding.
Additional best practices apply to specific types of meetings like standups and all-hands—more on this in the webinar.
Collaboration has to do with how the tools and processes you use to work together. Using shared calendars and diligently keeping schedules up to date, for example, makes it easy to view schedule overlaps and to schedule meetings without a lot of back-and-forth messages. Shared project management tools like Trello can also help teams stay on track when used properly. It is vital to use tools in ways that are inclusive in planning and decision-making. One big challenge remote team members face is isolation. Over-inclusion should be the norm.
GitHub is another critical collaboration tool for developer teams and Sha Ma will share best practices for using it in the webinar!
Culture is the shared values and team strength. There are fun and serious was to that you can replicate office culture- and team-building exercises online. Like having personal one-on-one’s with teammates, even sharing lunch and happy hours over Zoom. More seriously, it is important to establish a culture of transparency and accountability. This means, among other things, ensuring everyone has the resources they need to be successful, and that team members are empowered to and have the channels to speak up when they need something. There are ways to build transparency and accountability into your teamwork that we will share.
Another best practice is to recognize and reward great work just as you would in an office setting. One of Andela’s clients sent a remote engineer in Nigeria a Domino’s pizza, a 7,000 mile thank you! We’ll share more examples from Andela and GitHub in our March 19 webinar.
Hit the Ground Running
If your engineering team is forced into an all-remote mode, use these best practices to hit the ground running. After training and deploying hundreds of all-distributed groups, we have found that these best practices apply to organizations of all sizes and in all types of industries. Across the board, high-performing distributed teams practice communication, collaboration, and culture that supports and empowers employees. Register for our webinar, where you can learn more about how to put these best practices to work now.