Several Lifehacks on How to Manage Remote Engineering Teams


Wondering how to organize a brilliant performance of the remote engineering team to optimize the work environment within your small business or startup? Find the lifehacks further.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one nice thing that has occurred is that businesses started to explore what is possible when entire engineering teams work from home. Though the majority of non-engineering office jobs felt unhappy because of the extensive remote regime, many employees have succeeded in making it work. Remote engineering teams are not the exception as they faced identical challenges, but they are luckier due to having the top-performance collaborative software options available.

Opposed to marketing, sales, and other departments, a remote engineering team has to deal with a significantly higher degree of collaboration. Efficient engineering teams require world-class team members, software, hardware, and leadership to bring the idea to life.

Small business or startup owners usually believe that managing remote engineering teams is extremely challenging, and it is, however, there are true advantages that they can receive by being open to remote employees. So, let’s talk about the benefits of a remote engineering team and discuss a couple of lifehacks regarding how to manage it.

Want to get professional consultation or even a ready strategy on how to manage remote engineering teams? The best place to get that is considered B2B engineering marketplace, as Engre. Here, specialists know firsthand what it means to organize a successful remote activity. This platform allows users to manage projects online, utilize chats, and even apply a digital signature!

Pluses of Remote Teams

Before we start considering useful tips that will come in handy when it comes to managing remote engineering teams, it is worth understanding why businesses and startups need such teams at all. Several pluses are as follows:

·   Access to Global Hiring Pool;

·   Encouraging a More Diverse Personnel;

·   Optimizing the Practice of Retaining Top Engineering Talent.

Several commentaries to all the above-mentioned advantages can be found further.

Talking about the first plus, the following is meant. Hiring well is both time-consuming and extremely complicated. Recruiters as well as business or startup owners complain about permanently making almost impossible efforts to find and hire suitable engineering candidates to apply or at least to get interested in a potential role. For rare engineering roles, it can be hard to find the candidate that will be ready to come to the office daily as they prefer a remote mode.

Moreover, a challenge with such a specialist lies in the lack of such professionals in your city. So, your hiring pool is restricted to those engineers that live in the same city as your office. The ability to work 100% remotely provides businesses with attracting a larger pool of talent from around the globe.

The opportunity to work only remotely also delivers access to a more diverse engineering talent pool. Several engineers are unable (or unwilling) to relocate to design your solution. Other truly marvelous specialists require working from home due to certain mobility issues or the necessity to care about young children/older parents. Finally, a couple of engineers with unique qualifications simply possess powerful ties to their communities. The above-mentioned professionals can be ideal additions to your team but wouldn’t have been the options as they will prefer working remotely.

In case you allow your teams to work from home, you can forget about all those restrictions. Any specialist from any location internationally and with any background will be a perfect match for your project. And it is always much easier to retain such engineers within your business.

Hopefully, you understand that the remote work option delivers undeniable advantages. So, let’s get back to the main topic of this post. So, meet a couple of lifehacks regarding how to manage engineers that work remotely.

Tip 1: Organize Scrum Meetings Daily

What is that all about? This is when all the team members gather to talk about the agenda using Zoom or Skype. Such sessions support aligning everyone, involving a manager, on the tasks you are planning to perform. For obvious reasons, the perfect period to conduct the discussion of the agenda is considered at the beginning of the day. While working from home, permanent interaction with the team is essential and this is the only meeting that unites the manager with the engineering team daily. There are 2 vital factors to guarantee the meeting is a success. Let’s discuss them.

Make it Short

Every team member without exceptions should discuss their plan for the day briefly. However, “plan” could mean different notions for various specialists as well as roles. So, the manager’s role consists in making the meeting more specific. How? As an option, the participants should describe their agenda by answering the following 3 queries:

·   What activities were finalized yesterday?

·   What tasks do you intend to perform this day?

·   Will you have all the necessary resources to finish today’s planned activities (if no, what the blockers are)?

When every team member possesses a plan, those queries can be answered in 60 seconds! Nearly 15 minutes are enough for a traditional engineering team. To be productive, strict timings are to be set for such discussions. Blockers can be further negotiated individually by the manager and the contractors/vendors or whoever that can serve as the block.

Never Violate the Rhythm

In case managers want this practice to become an integral part of the company’s corporate culture, they should never skip agenda discussions. You want to make it a ritual with which every engineer from the team begins the working day. This can only be gained in case you perform it regularly and stick to the same timing. It is a bad practice to reschedule these meetings because it is a turn-off to modify plans mid-day.

Daily agenda discussions help realize what project activities every team member is working on, following all the parallel solutions, and battling obstacles at an early stage. Managers stay informed without the need to come to the office. Great, agree?

Maintain the Relevant Set of Communication Tools

Effective communication is vital for every team whether remote it or not. However, the true challenge occurs when managers want their teams to stay engaged with them. Good informal communication is a must because you can’t simply come at anyone and start discussing the problem that you are trying to handle. When working remotely, you don’t even possess the opportunity of taking a coffee break to contact. Formal communication has also to be better organized due to availability problems.

So, to cope with these problems in a way to make remote communication identical to in-office one, managers require integrating a specific set of tools (and regulations connected with their use) for their engineering teams. When it comes to regulations, managers can ask HR specialists for assistance. Let’s better accentuate the tools. There are several tools your engineering team requires while working from home:

·   Activities Management Software.

Appropriate activities management software will maintain a great flow of tasks for engineering teams. However, managers should keep in mind that integrating activities management software is one side of the coin but its utilization and keeping the team’s activities updated is another side. Similar to agenda, this practice can become another habit where every engineer within the team goes to the software not less than two times a day and updates their activity status.

What type of activities management software is the best solution for engineering teams? They can vary from a basic activities management tool, such as Asana to a super agile product, such as Jira. Of course, you can select from a wide range of software based on the size of the business or startup and the comprehensiveness of your design cycle.

·   Software to Organize Documentation Flow.

This kind of software might seem ridiculous for engineering teams however, as the scale of the team and the amount of docs increase, picking the relevant doc at the needed time gets trouble. In this case, the thing is not simply about possessing this software but making the doc structures standardized.

To manage remote teams in terms of doc flow, they can start with implementing traditional tools, such as Google Docs or Github Wiki. Those solutions maintain super-efficient integration between each other. If you want to use the tool called Confluence, teams can enjoy its learning curve to study how to practice a wide range of functions as well as the customizations provided. The most widespread tool is Google Docs because it is easy to use and partner with.

·   Communication Tools.

Engineers that work from any location except the office should possess a way to contact others within the team via video, chat, or audio. Commonly, remote teams practice the following types of interaction with each other:

ü  All the members (including a manager) are supposed to be online at the same time for a certain work purpose. Such communication is usually organized via a video/audio call. It is a must to have such function as screen sharing during calls as it helps to get rid of needless confusion. An ideal tool is considered Google Meet because it supports calls with a screen-sharing option;

ü  The communication type presupposes the situation where you leave a query and wait for the recipient to come online and answer. This normally occurs via voice notes or a group/private chat. Slack is considered a wonderful option for this way of interaction because together with chats, the tool also delivers assistance to a big amount of integrations as well as efficient bots.

For effective code-revision brainstorming, managers should encourage their engineering teams to apply video calls but not audio. It delivers the opportunity to grow approachability in the engineering team.

Maintain Enough Freedom in a Remote Surrounding

When the engineering teams work from home, freedom is essential in such an environment because team members don’t work from the same place. Managers should encourage a culture where engineers can take over responsibilities and take their own decisions. Here, the approach titled as the Trust Battery comes is a clue to success.

In case you still have no idea what the concept is about, let us explain that. The Trust Battery generates the health of the team’s relationships. Sincere conversations, active listening, and fulfilling the commitments empower the battery as all of them are considered positive interactions. Toxic communication, self-interest, and performing poor work empty the battery. This concept accentuates the inner climate in the team and encourages the members to regularly revise their relationships.

The Trust Battery is a trigger for trusted relationships. All you need to do is to be open yourself as well as support others in sharing info about their lives. How to bring the concept to life?

When the agenda is discussed, you can launch the habit for your team members to answer the following questions:

ü  What was your weekend?

ü  What author are you reading currently?

ü  What place do you intend to travel to on vacation?

People like such discussions, so participation is traditionally high. Sharing personal data always builds bridges between people and this is a great contribution to making relations more humanized.

Finally, get all team members together in person. Managers should choose the times when the engineers can come together. As an option, make an appointment in the office (or choose some place to travel). While organizing a trip, managers should pay special attention to delivering support to engineers that require such help to make the practice possible. For instance, in case a support person is needed for a team member to have a trip, the trip budget should include the budget for the support individual as well.

Managers should remember that while working remotely, relationship building should be an integral part of the process but not the only one. It would be brilliant to practice trips twice a year to leave your team members appreciated and inspired.

In case managers stick to all the above-mentioned lifehacks, they will get the most organized and happy engineering teams!