Engaging Your Development Team in a Remote Environment


The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the workplace. For many companies, remote operation stopped being a nice option and turned into a survival tactic. According to Gartner, 88% of organizations require or encourage remote work during the pandemic. Software development teams may have an easier time working remotely than other professionals. However, streamlining such an operation requires a special approach from the managers. 

Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to engage your software development teams remotely.

1. Define Goals Clearly

recent study suggests that 39% of workers are more productive at home than they are in an office. But, that only works if you provide specific goals. In the current situation, many people experience nervousness and uncertainty, and it reflects on their work.

That’s why setting clear and measurable goals (preferably long-term as well as short-term) can boost your software development team’s productivity while giving them a sense of security.

Communication is highly challenging in a remote environment. Things your team members may have picked up during a face-to-face meeting could be lost during a video conference. That’s why it’s important to add extra clarity, even if you have to repeat yourself.

2. Rethink Your Recognition and Reward System

One of the best ways to engage employees is to reward them. Whichever system you used to have in place for in-office workers needs tweaking. Remote software development teams need better recognition and bigger rewards to stay motivated.

In a remote environment, employee appreciation programs work the best. Since people have an opportunity to work longer hours at home, earning points can motivate them to use it.

According to a Globoforce study, 79% of employees work better when they are recognized. Don’t forget about a simple “thank you” talk. Arranging a private video chat with a developer to express your appreciation goes a long way.

3. Pay for Training and Certification

Software developers are some of the most demanded employees worldwide. If you’ve acquired such a hefty asset, it’s worth keeping it. To hone their skills, remote teams need regular training. If your developers used to search and pay for such opportunities on their own, it’s time to offer some support.

Providing paid-on-job time for learning could be an excellent investment in employee engagement and retention. While developers are at home, they have more time to learn. Encourage it.

4. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Interactions

While your software development teams are working remotely, their need for peer-to-peer interaction is especially acute. Set up additional virtual check-ins with leaders and managers to streamline collaboration.

Additionally, encourage employees to use communication platforms for interacting with each other as they would in the office. Consider such tools as Slack or Google Hangouts that provide opportunities for both work-related and free time chats among employees. They can create a separate channel to discuss personal issues to mimic an in-office environment.

5. Provide More Support

If your software development team is just starting to work remotely, it needs additional support. You need to be ready to schedule frequent check-ins and listen to developers’ new needs.

It’s important to understand that a software developer needs time to adjust to the new way of work. They need to figure out what works and what doesn’t, adapt to additional tools, set up a workspace, deal with stay-at-home family members, and more.

The transitional period for remote work could take a few weeks. Be ready to offer support throughout.

6. Offer Flexibility

One of the key reasons why many software developers appreciate remote operation is flexibility. Allow your remote teams to choose their working hours. This could fuel productivity immensely while keeping employee satisfaction levels high.

While it’s still important to create schedules for regular meetings, the rest of the work can be done according to team members’ comfort preferences. Most people can optimize their productivity if you just let them work whenever they feel best.

7. Listen to Suggestions

Many software developers already have sufficient experience working remotely. Some may have done it before they joined your team. Others do freelancing projects. They may have a better idea, which tools to use, or how to schedule check-ins to improve productivity.

Meanwhile, ask for advice and listen to team members. It is an important part of the engagement technique that provides developers with a sense of belonging and empowerment.

Empowerment plays a significant role in engagement. According to research, employees who felt a low level of empowerment are rated with engagement at the 24th percentile.

8. Allow Career Advancement Opportunities

When it comes to promotions, remote software developers may be overlooked. Recognize developers’ experience and time with the company through career advancement whether they work remotely or in the office.

If advancements are temporarily on hold due to a crisis, grant prestigious titles or non-monetary rewards.

9. Give Them Freedom

While it’s important to check in on your software development teams to ensure a smooth transition to remote operation, don’t micromanage them. Developers need space to operate. Since software development is creative work, it shouldn’t be limited or overly controlled.

When it comes to free and creative thinking, remote work can be highly beneficial to your team.

10. Build a Positive Relationship

Building a positive relationship with your software developers is especially important when they work remotely. While the remote operation has numerous challenges, it’s important not to lose focus on people.

Many companies mobilize their forces to deal with the situation at hand (be it COVID-19 or an economic downturn). In the process, they can forget the consequences of not seeing employees as people with emotions, objectives, interests, and problems.

Building a positive relationship with remote developers motivates them to keep working, stay with the company, and come up with revolutionary ideas.

Keep Engaging Your Software Development Teams to Improve Productivity

Software developers are valuable assets for any company. The shortage of top-notch specialists in the field doesn’t disappear during a crisis. It’s up to you to adjust to the new reality and keep your remote teams happy.

Take full advantage of the available engagement strategy to ensure productivity and employee satisfaction.

For more information about managing your remote software development teams, please contact us today.

Janell Picon

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