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Author: Jennifer Roberts, Ekipa CMO
At Ekipa, we’re committed to building a great talent marketplace to enable more development teams and entrepreneurs to built awesome products. We all love being able to work with people from around the globe. But even if your company has the best remote software development team, remote working still demands an authentic, human touch to create a healthy company culture. Building a cohesive remote development team requires investing in their team spirit and morale, and this necessarily becomes even more intentional than when your company is located all together in a physical office.
Unless you invest time in building relationships with your offshore development team, their social isolation from the rest of the company will make your job managing them challenging, not to mention potentially lowering their productivity. Follow these tips to rehumanize your remote work environment and create team spirit.
Get To Know The Team
Good managers know that they need to understand each team member’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and personality in order to effectively manage them. But while getting to know each other happens organically in a physical office, for remote development teams, things have to be more intentional.
Reach out to your team members and ask them about their likes and dislikes. Get their feedback on which assignments they enjoy doing the most and on how they want to develop their skills. This goes just as much for remote developers as it does for entrepreneurs and managers – if you’re not getting the interaction with your boss or client that you need, be proactive and ask for it!
Have Tools To Communicate In Real Time
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communication is key to making work happen on time in a remote company. Very few remote companies survive for long by only using email for communication. Some teams use Slack, others use Skype, and many use a combination of online project management tools like Trello or Asana. By moving most of your communication off of email, you’ll prevent inbox clutter, and you’ll also keep information organized by project and task, saving time. But most importantly, you’ll also create a sense of connection between your employees, even though they’re spread far apart. Psychologically, even just seeing your team connected and communicating about work will encourage organic conversations, and create an open culture where your remote team members feel comfortable asking you questions.
Explain How They Fit Into The Big Picture
Remote working in particular can fall prey to watching the clock, because distance can make work seem less significant. Accomplishing things and exceeding goals can become just punching the clock and getting in your hours, unless an employee knows the importance of their work.
As a manager, take time to explain verbally or in writing the larger importance of each task. Let them know how their work impacts larger objectives for the quarter and the year, and when they complete their work, make sure you can track the results to go over the actual impact with them.
Check In Just to Say Hi
You should definitely follow up with your remote team to make sure that their work is going well – but what about just saying hi? Simply acknowledging the existence of your remote team members can make a big difference in their job satisfaction. It’s a way of building in some of the social chit-chat with your team members you might have had in an office, saying hi in the hallway or when you’re grabbing coffee. As with everything else, you have to be more intentional when you’re working with a remote team, but just saying hi online doesn’t have to take any more time than in real life. Your remote workers will view you as more personal and approachable, and you’ll both be more emotionally invested in your working relationship.
Get Help Bridging the Gap
If all this sounds daunting at first, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help. Software marketplaces and platforms like Ekipa can bridge the gap between your software needs and responsible development teams that are ready to become deeply integrated within your company. You might also consider making relationship management a key task for all your project managers who work with remote teams, to make sure that lines of communication stay open.
Building a successful remote company depends on monitoring and improving many specific business metrics. It demands the best tools possible for your niche. But it’s absolutely essential to remember the human touch for the most difficult to quantify, and yet most important, human metric in a company: culture, team spirit, the connections that keep everyone together.
Jennifer Roberts is the CMO for Ekipa.co.
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