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How to Integrate Remote Developers into Your Team
By following some key steps, your business can maintain a strong culture and effective team while expanding your capabilities with remote developers.
In our increasingly global economy, it’s becoming commonplace to bring external programmers into your software development project. This can help your business save money, expedite timelines, and take on bigger client loads.
However, any new worker can be an adjustment for your existing team members — especially if they’re remote or outsourced. Some employees may become resentful that you’re bringing in outside talent. Others may struggle to collaborate with someone who’s not on-site.
The key to successfully leveraging these new staffing models is to prioritize communication and get everyone in the right place. Read on to learn the best practices for integrating remote software developers into your team.
Equalize Team Members’ Responsibilities
Whether you’ve outsourced some tasks, booked a staff augmentation company, or hired a remote team member, it’s crucial to define everyone’s roles. If you’re curious about how to motivate remote teams, it all starts with clarity.
You likely hired a remote developer to either lighten your current team’s workload or fill a skill gap. Either way, ensure that everyone knows which tasks they’re doing and who has ownership of each task or project. Consider delegating your top employees’ tedious tasks so they can focus on their primary talents.
A robust task management system with clear review/approval processes can help. If all members of the team can see who is doing what, you’re more likely to get buy-in from everyone — and avoid costly mistakes or duplicated efforts.
Remember: transparency is your best friend when managing a dual remote/in-house team!
Induct Remote Workers into the Culture
Wondering how to keep remote teams engaged?
For all the benefits of remote work, it cannot replace onsite interaction in terms of culture building. Your team’s solidarity and collaboration can face challenges when some members are remote. More than 20 percent of remote workers experience loneliness. And unfortunately, many in-house team members are reluctant to collaborate with remote workers. Especially for software projects, that can hinder the project’s success — not to mention your team’s satisfaction.
Be sure to create spaces where your entire team can interact and build lucrative working relationships. Whether you have remote employees, staff augmentation, or both, ensure that everyone can easily stay in touch. An instant-messaging tool such as Slack is great for encouraging frequent communication. The more your team can connect, the more camaraderie — and morale — will develop.
Also, make your company culture “virtual” whenever possible. Zoom happy hours, weekly motivational posts, workplace challenges, and introductory videos can all help your team feel like they’re part of the team — not just a remote worker-for-hire. Create space for silly cat GIFs, dance-offs, birthday wishes … anything that restores the human connection to a tech-centered workplace!
Leave No Stone Unturned
The primary reason that companies outsource or augment their staff is to get more or larger projects done in less time. But that takes more than having enough people: your entire team must be able to coordinate their efforts. More than 60 percent of remote workers feel left out of project updates. That’s not ideal if you’re trying to boost your efficiency by outsourcing!
Communication is key for remote teams in project management. It’s ultimately up to you (or your project manager) to keep everyone in the loop. Host daily scrums or check-ins, send project updates, and establish clear communication protocols:
- What is the procedure for changing the project plan?
- What happens if someone is “out of office” for the day?
- How often should team members update their docket or post status updates?
- What is the time limit for responding to messages?
- How can team members delegate or reschedule their tasks, if possible?
Detailed automations can cut down on these admin tasks, but it ultimately comes down to accountability. You should make sure that your remote and in-house team members share access to your project management platform or messaging app, so everyone can use the same communication channels.
Build a Cross-Cultural Work Environment
Especially if you’re leveraging staff augmentation or nearshore outsourcing, be mindful of your remote developers’ cultural preferences. Some aspects of Western workplaces, such as frequent communication, multi-tasking, and formal email tones are not as common in other cultures. It’s important to cultivate an inclusive space with etiquette flexible enough to accommodate everyone.
For example, not all remote workers will feel comfortable with videoconferencing. They may also draw a firm line between work discussions and general chatter. That’s okay! Your priority should be to create a space where everyone can converse and consult as they prefer. Simply keeping those lines of communication open is vital to your team’s success.
You don’t have to sacrifice team camaraderie if you book remote workers. Yet because collaboration is crucial to successful software development projects, you must create opportunities for your in-house and remote teams to connect. Onshore or nearshore augmentation is especially helpful as there are fewer cultural/linguistic hurdles.
In any case, simply give them a chance to connect. It’s rarely beneficial to restrict or mediate their collaboration. As long as everyone knows their roles, let those lines of communication flow freely. That’s an ideal recipe for cross-cultural camaraderie and lasting team integration.