Brief Guide on Organizing Productive Distributed Teamwork
Many of us practice this type of work to some extent. Many companies cooperate with several remote colleagues while the majority of staff members work from the office. Others prefer a fully remote format and nurture the productivity of distributed teams. We mean teams in which members are located far from each other or at least not in one building.
Sure, both approaches mean certain challenges, however, let’s focus on the latter and see how to make teamwork even more effective!
By the way, this piece will be useful for both business owners and HR managers, so make sure to look through it to the end. Maybe you are still not using some of these tips! 😉
Distributed Teamwork: Pros and Cons
No matter, whether your teams are fully or partly remote, such type of work has many advantages:
- Employees are free to choose where to live and are not tied to a specific location. Moreover, companies can look for qualified specialists in other countries, which opens up a chance to get the most of foreign experiences.
- People set up their workplace considering their requirements. A convenient environment always leads to better results.
- Everyone has equal working conditions. Companies might provide developers with the necessary equipment if a person needs it.
- Both parties – employees and companies – save money. Workers cut transportation costs and businesses don’t spend an arm and a leg on renting offices in the city center.
Now let’s take a look at the challenges of distributed teamwork:
- The complication of managing a team, the members of which are located all around the world. Adjusting to time zone crossings often requires early morning or late evening work. This is not convenient for everyone, although more and more developers are now used to such a format and do not see it as a drawback.
- Lack of corporate culture and consequently, non-financial motivation. Supporting a single team spirit online is much harder than if you could gather colleagues offline. Also, most remote workers often feel lonely without live cooperation. That’s why companies should invest more resources in online activities and collaboration tools.
- Communication difficulties. Be careful when hiring in various regions, as people might have different levels of spoken and written English. We always offer to conduct extra English tests to see whether your future employees will clearly understand each other.
Let’s say you’ve already hired a distributed team of specialists from the opposite corners of Earth. How to organize their work to easily deal with all the challenges listed above? See the guidelines below:
Welcome On Board, Newbies!
Every working journey starts with onboarding. If you had a chance to make the first impression during an interview with your candidate, now you should match the presentation. The key recommendation is to make the first weeks of the newly arrived employee with the company smooth and clear.
- Introduce the newbie to the team and designate a contact person (or several of them). These can be a team leader and an HR manager.
- Save your time and give newcomers an employee handbook if you have one. Also, it’s a nice manual to address in case of questions.
- Tell them briefly about their future day-to-day to-do list. It may contain daily calls with the team, tools everyone uses, company traditions, expectations and tests, regular team-building activities, and so on.
- As for the expectations, it’s a good idea to set goals for the first time. Choose the time frame according to the company’s rules. They may go along with the probation period.
- Provide people with necessary guidance. Find a minute in your daily schedule to say ‘Hello’ and find out if everything is understandable and if they have additional questions.
How Are Things Going in 6 Months?
Half a year is the next stage of the ‘employee’s evolution’, as they turn from newbies to more engaged (at least we hope so 🙂 members. Use this time to involve your distributed team in joint activities. Corporate culture is extremely important even for remote personnel, as this helps them feel like part of the team, not just a lone wolf on freelance.
- Use remote video communication more often. Use technology to not forget how your colleagues look. Even if you are dealing with programmers that are commonly introverts, ask them whether they can turn on the camera during calls. 🙂
- Apart from that, keep in touch with all of them via newsletters and interactive emails (for example, surveys).
- Organize events outside the working schedule. For example, everyone interested can join a 5-minute coffee call in the morning just to chat with colleagues before the working day. Another option is to gather everyone online for a team game (Mafia, Alias, whatever) after work. This will create an opportunity for everyone to know each other better than it is possible only while discussing urgent tasks.
- Set and discuss development plans. This is what you should discuss with employees at the start, however, now all this should get a form. Offer them educational options that are sponsored by your company, tell them about mentorship programs, set development vectors and keep your eye on the ball.
- Exchange feedback. Everyone would like to be heard. Ask for feedback about the company, products or projects, team, working process, corporate culture and anything else often. If one sees that their ideas are being taken into account, they become more engaged and motivated.
Next Milestone: First Year
People tend to doubt everything, and there is great competition for professionals on the market. The first year is the period for growing highly loyal staff members of distributed teams.
If you don’t want the first year of your employee working for you to become the last, consider these points as must-haves:
- Nurture organizational culture and team spirit within every department.
- Communication should not be interrupted. Supply employees with the necessary tools for exchanging feedback regularly.
- Keep an eye on people’s engagement and motivation. It’s a great idea to conduct engagement surveys semi-annually or annually.
- Increase their development opportunities. Have a list of conferences, webinars and other events in which colleagues can take part for free (we mean that the company sponsors their participation).
- Openness to new ideas and creative tasks motivate staff members. They enjoy seeing their contribution be useful to the company.
- Regular performance reviews and promotions can keep motivation high as well.
So, if you’re a business owner, check if your HRs implement these best practices to make developers engaged and loyal.
If you are an HR manager, pick up the points you haven’t used in practice yet and give them a try!