Managing Remote Teams: Best Practices for Engineering Leaders

Ah, working remotely.

It feels like ages ago when commuting to the office was a normal, daily occurrence.

Pre-pandemic, only 17% of Americans worked from home five days or more per week. COVID-19 created the need for a workaround to keep businesses afloat, birthing remote, distributed, and hybrid-distributed work models.

According to Terminal’s 2021 State of Remote Engineering report, 83% of software engineers want to work remotely, while 86% have adopted distributed working models.

And while teleworking has its benefits, managing a team remotely isn’t always an engineering leaders’ cup of tea.

For effective remote management, mastering best practices such as effective communication, collaboration, and feedback ensures performance is up to snuff. This way, leaders avoid micromanagement, and engineers can work freely.

Today, 70% of businesses are adopting a hybrid work model to enjoy benefits like:

  • Saving up to $600 billion in losses annually due to workplace distractions
  • Increase in productivity
  • Retaining top talent
  • Boost in employee mental health and well-being

With most engineers favoring a hybrid model, you can’t overlook the need to hire top talent during and post-COVID.

Woven is a platform designed and adapted to hire remote engineers who fit perfectly in today’s distributed or hybrid distributed working models.

Challenges of managing remote employees

One of the perks of software engineering is that the job doesn’t require being in the same building as anyone else. Working remotely for engineering distributed teams has tons of potential.

Heck, you can even make your own coffee.

If your company is in the process of adopting some form of remote engineering work, you’ll be among the 70% of businesses reaping the rewards. However, you’ll have to deal with the challenges of managing remote employees, such as:

  • Ineffective performance management: It can be tricky to measure a remote engineer’s performance. More so in the absence of performance KPIs or performance gauging tools.
  • Fading company culture: Be it hiring top-notch talent, cultivating healthy and professional work relationships, or collaboration, you have to go the extra mile to redefine company culture among remote engineers.
  • Inconsistent schedules: Teleworking eliminates geographical barriers. Remote engineers can be scattered across the globe, and while it’s cool to be in different time zones, it can be challenging for team leaders who want to schedule phone calls or video conferences.
  • Limited or ineffective communication: With remote work, management might reduce communication with team members. Similarly, team members can fail to maintain contact, reducing overall morale, trust, and collaboration.
  • Isolation: While remote work is often beneficial for mental health, engineers can become demoralized and distracted by their own thoughts without social interaction.
  • The ‘work in PJs’ challenge: Remote engineers are of course free to wear whatever they like. However, it’s important to note that attire affects creative and critical thinking.

There’s a need for your company to respond to the challenges of managing and leading remote teams. Begin by offering “managing remote employees training” to team leaders, who will implement the managing remote employees’ best practices.

Companies with the best performance management practices 2021

If you’re an engineering leader, you know how important it is to clarify what is expected of employees and to reward the best performers. You may have even searched for companies with the best performance management practices.

For example, Goldman Sachs used a traditional performance management system that heavily focused on employee KPIs, annual reviews, and forced distribution. This actually had negative results for employees.

Then, the investment banking group installed a modern performance management system focused on objectives, critical results, and continuous feedback. They even created an online portal that enabled and encouraged team members to communicate, resulting in increased trust, motivation, and performance improvement among all employees.

You, too, can utilize these performance management best practices during the hiring process:

  • Create an effective employee hiring strategy that clearly outlines the open job post and an understandable job description. Advertise the positions and get ready for the applications to come in.
  • Triage the applications to select the potential candidates likely to advance.
  • Conduct all rounds of technical interviews to produce the most qualified candidate best suited for the job. Have a sit down and conduct a SWOT analysis for further evaluation.
  • Follow the laid out employee selection procedure, including the onboarding process, explain the performance-based standards, processes, and results your company requires.
  • Observe the engineer as they conduct their duties.

At Woven, we understand how vital performance management is in producing the highest performer during the hiring process. That’s why we’ve created a technical assessment platform to increase qualified hires and cut back on time spent interviewing.

Get ready; with us, your best engineer is on the way.

9 tips for managing remote employees

A recent Gartner survey reported that 90% of HR leaders confirmed adopting remote work models for their employees post-COVID. Nevertheless, the challenges of managing a workforce remotely might hinder successful remote work adoption.

Fortunately, you can implement some kickass remote work best practices in 2021 to alleviate these challenges. Check out these tips for managing remote employees:

Create a company-wide channel for communication

Establish and encourage open lines of communications between management and employees, as well as amongst remote engineers.

Have a strong face-to-face (f2f) culture

Despite many employees wanting to be remote, 100% percent of employees agree that f2f culture is vital in creating long-term effective work relationships. Utilize video conference tech to have regular f2f meetings.

Encourage bi-directional feedback and conversations that happen between people at work

Remote work shouldn’t hinder necessary feedback. Give engineers feedback when it’s due, and encourage them to do the same.

Share company news regularly

Regular updates about your company ensure that all remote engineers know what’s going on and help them feel connected and encouraged to work toward a common goal.

Have one-on-ones with employees

Spare some time to have frank talks with your employees. Offer tips, training, coaching, and discuss what’s important to them, other than work.

Use a project management tool

Project management tools are essential for project planning, tracking, collaboration, documentation, and evaluation for you and your team of remote engineers.

Build community outside of work

Employees are loyal when they belong to a community. Encourage communication and plan regular team-building exercises remotely to improve morale and bonding.

Give a touch of presence and availability

Don’t hover over or micromanage your engineers. Give them the space and freedom to work. If they encounter any challenges, let them know you are available to help.

Don’t forget to celebrate employee wins

Every milestone an employee hits is enough to celebrate. Send out gift cards, open some champagne, and toast to the wins, however small.

How managers can support remote employees

Remote work has revolutionized productivity. But it has also eliminated the immediate availability of a manager, in a time when 71% of employees are finding it hard to settle in and adopt remote working models.

The lack of immediate feedback, conversations, help with a bugging issue, or even regular office banter can negatively affect remote engineers.

Effective collaboration between managers and remote engineers is key to successful project completion.

The truth is, every engineer wants to work with a more extraordinary engineer. That’s because 10X problem-solvers raise the bar, the quality, and the level of productivity on their team.

It’s up to you to offer the necessary support to ensure your remote employees are as productive as they ought to be. Give them the resources they need, and hire the kind of talent your team requires to stay ahead.

You need to pair with a team that specializes in remote hiring. A team that knows the best practices to help navigate your remote space.

Woven helps you find those talented candidates because we assess skills that are essential to today’s remote engineer. See for yourself; start your free trial today.