This year many companies organized remote work for their employees because of the pandemic. And as the practice demonstrated, this approach worked perfectly. The companies remained functioning and the clients still had a chance to effectively cooperate with them. Even now when in many countries the offices began opening, the remote work stays actual than ever and even more companies are switching to remote work and accepting it as a new philosophy of cooperating with team members and clients.
However, not all clients are ready to work with the teams on distance because they have certain doubts and fears related to productivity of such cooperation. But is there really a reason to be worried or is it simply a lack of knowledge and understanding of remote work principles?
Today we will try to figure this out and discover what’s the best approach to managing remote teams, as well as what are their key pros and cons.
Are you ready for working with a remote team?
Based on our experience we can say that many clients have some doubts regarding work with teams on distance. This happens because they do not understand how the workflow will be built. There is also a common prejudice that it is hard to establish a great level of communication with remote teams. Many clients are also afraid that they will not be able to control the team members and monitor the progress of their work. This is understandable because you have some expectations, deadlines and you invest a great deal of money into your project. Nobody wants to lose neither finance nor time.
So the question is “How to understand if you are ready to entrust your project to a remote team?” We have reflected on this question a little bit and created a brief checklist for those who are still deciding whether it is safe and convenient to work with a remote team.
You should understand that there will be some workflow peculiarities that you will need to accept, otherwise the cooperation will turn into a nightmare. So before hiring a remote team make sure that you are okay with the following:
- The communication between you and the team members will be carried out through different online tools of common use (various messengers like Slack, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, etc).
- The employees will not have a stationary workplace (they can even be located in different cities or countries).
- All the project documentation will be written, stored and provided in the online format.
- You won’t have total control over the team but instead of it you’ll have great results (the team members may not have a stationary workplace but they are committed and disciplined).
- Some processes can be automated and changes can be added anytime during the development process.
If everything mentioned above doesn’t bother you much, then you can proceed with looking for a remote team and choosing the most suitable one.
Feel that you are ready to start working on your project with the remote team?
What are the main advantages of working with the remote team?
When it comes to selecting a team for making your project, benefits become the main decision-making point. Clients want to get the solution faster and spend less money and nerves on it. Having so many options to consider (i.e. you can hire a freelancer, gather your own developers team, or start working with the remote one) you start thinking about the advantages each one of them can offer you. And believe us, working with the remote team has more benefits than other options. So let’s take a look at them!
- Reduced costs to 25%. You may argue that hiring a freelancer is cheaper. Yes, it is so, however, you should not forget that you are hiring one person who is going to be responsible for the whole project. And that person may lack some knowledge or skills. So in terms of productivity and results quality the team is always better. While it is extremely time and cost consuming to gather your own team, you can hire a remote one with really professional members.
- Flexible working hours. Remote team can be involved in the development 24 hours a day and 7 days a week since it has a more flexible and individual work schedule. This gives you an opportunity to reach out to the team at any time, to receive all updates related to your project faster without waiting for another 24 hours.
- Multiculturalism. You can hire the best possible developer you can find without restrictions on geography which can make a great contribution to the development of the project.
- More motivated members. The team is always more energetic and productive than freelancers who often struggle with procrastination and time management. So the CPI of the team members is definitely higher. Therefore by choosing a remote team you will receive a product of high quality right on time.
Did you have an experience of working with the remote team? Or maybe you are looking for the one right now?
Are there any disadvantages for the team and client?
Although working with a remote team is a common practice and many clients have already appreciated it, we cannot avoid mentioning some cons of such cooperation. So check them up:
#1 Minimized personal communication. You are likely to communicate with the team via messengers or video calls. Therefore misinterpretations or misunderstandings can occur at any stage of the development process.
How our team deals with this: We have Business Analysts who are always ready to help clients with understanding the core workflow or any questions related to the project vision or specifications. Business Analysts will gather and forward all questions to the Project Manager and the team and their replay will be sent back ASAP.
#2 Too many distracting factors around. Employees may not be so concentrated as they would have been in the office and under your supervision. The possible consequences you may face are emotional disbalance and delivery delays from the developers side. How our team deals with this: In order to avoid such situations we are always open for a dialog with our employees. We always provide all our developers, designers, business analysts or other specialists from our team with the additional devices if they are needed. We have daily calls and video meetings to set daily goals and make a plan how to achieve them.
#3 Issues with differentiating work from home. Due to the reason that the whole team stays out of office people might have issues with separating the job from their personal life as the line between them becomes really thin. This leads to lack of concentration and motivation. How our team deals with this: This is a known issue for all the companies. On our side we feel responsible to make sure that our co-workers spend enough time with their families. Hackthons and online team buildings are always on our list as well.
#4 Emotional pressure. Some co-workers may feel lonely on the remote especially those who got used to working in a team, having coffee breaks and spending lunch hours together with colleagues. How our team deals with this: We have 1 to 1 meetings which are held by our Project Managers and aimed to track down such problems from the very beginning. Each team member is always free to reach out to our HR department in case they have any emotional concerns.
#5 Location in different countries. There are huge companies with many team members who can live in different countries all over the world. So sometimes clients are worried that there might be issues with communication caused by different time zones.Good news: these issues are covered by flexible working hours.
Cannot decide with which team to go? Contact us to get a prefessional advice regarding your project and recommended workflow.
What involvement is expected from the client?
The client is always one of the main engines of the project. He is the one who makes all the important decisions and brings business ideas. The product owner is also responsible for a project backlog, he sets goals and priorities.Client participation in many areas of the team’s work is almost the fundamental key to the success of the project.
So now let’s imagine that you have never worked with a remote team before. Your first questions will probably be the next:
- What is my part in the project?
- What types of reports can I get?
- How does the team work?
To begin with, let’s cover the aspects of the remote team work that the client should be necessarily involved in:
- Online communication. It will be established between the client and Business Analyst in order to write clear and specific project documentation that will further help the team to create the product able to meet all client’s needs and requirements.
- Meetings planning. The product owner will have to set up Sprint goals and priorities per each task.The meetings are crucial for the progress of the development.
- Demo meetings. This is the meeting where the team demonstrates a part of the finished functionality and its acceptance by the customer. The client should be present to check if everything is done as it is supposed to.
From our side we understand that it is very important to maintain an open and trusting relationship with our clients and we do everything depending on us to achieve transparency. It becomes possible due to providing the customer with all the necessary reports and documentation. After all, each project and client is unique. So, the product owner can receive the following types of reporting and be ready to take a look at them:
Daily report which will show what was done by the team during the day.
Weekly or monthly report on the progress of work in relation to the deadlines.(The frequency of submitting such a report has to be agreed by the client and Project Manager separately, depending on the needs of the customer).
Financial reports of varying complexity.
Now let’s proceed to the question related to the way remote teams are going to work. It is worth mentioning how much the productivity has improved after the transition to remote work. Indeed, now bad weather or heavy traffic on the way to the office won’t ruin the employee’s working mood. And if someone feels sick, then he does not have to take time off, because now he can spend the day at home in a calm and comfortable atmosphere in front of his laptop or computer.
In the new reality, because of more planned interactions, these teams have become more synchronized than those working in a standard office. And all distracting communications remain in the past. In addition, now the developer will not be distracted by others asking for some help or advice. He can answer different distracting questions only if he has time.
Another great thing is that now companies are hiring people who we can call “Doers”. These people will get tasks done even if they are in the middle of nowhere. The manager doesn’t have to give tasks to know that required scope of work is going to be done. And it will be done on time and in the best way. This is why we are always looking for people we can trust and who we don’t have to monitor all the time because we don’t want to end up wasting your and our time.
In order to achieve the highest productivity level it’s very important to choose the right tools for communication. The most popular tools used by remote teams are:
- Slack. This is going to be your new virtual office. Slack allows you to create different kinds of channels per different teams or other purposes. The only thing you should be aware of is that if you have developers from different countries be ready to receive notifications 24 hours a day. Yet, this can be fixed by settings. It also gives you the opportunity to schedule video and audio calls with 15 persons at once. Some features of Slack are paid but the price is not high.
- GitHub. This tool will mainly be used by the team in order to manage merge requests and to work with code in general. It makes the development very convenient and allows to achieve better efficiency.
- Zoom. If your team has more than 15 attendees and you need to host a meeting then Zoom should be your number one choice (after Slack, of course). You can invite the whole team to the call free of charge and discuss all crucial matters on the go.
- Jira. The best known tool which allows you to create tasks, to track them, to release and then to report your work. Jira offers you tons of possible configurations for your project. Starting from setting up the Team board the way you like and finishing with tracking down releases. It’s also possible to integrate Slack, GitHub and other utilities which will improve your work and use different filters to track your work even faster.
- Confluence. If you want to track all the specifications and tasks in one place – here comes the Confluence. Like Google docs we’ve all got used to it gives various types of templates which will allow you to quickly create new Meetings notes, Specification, Plan etc. On top of that you can always create your own templates and share them with your team or keep them private.
- Google Docs. The last but not the least tool in our list today is Google Docs. It offers you various templates for different types of documents and reports. You can create project workflow, Gantt diagrams, daily or financial reports in Google Docs. The possibilities of using this tool are limited only by your imagination.
Need a reliable team that will always be in control of all processes and touch with you during the development?
Expectations put on the remote team
When a client decides to work with the remote team he already has some expectations. So our main task is to meet those expectations and achieve the best results. So let’s take a quick look at the main expectations we know of and check if they are justified.
- Client wants to have a choice of the communication tools. We already described the most common means of communication for developers. It may happen that proposed variants are not appropriate or convenient for the client. It is very important to find the golden medium which will fit both sides. Possible solution is to use Slack, for example, for the inner team communication and Skype or Zoom for meetings with the product owner. Project manager will be the one who will resolve any communications issues between customer and the team if any arise.
- Clients expect us to respond to messages on time. All the developers and Project Managers are always trying to reply to emails or other messages as soon as they can. If the email is answered on time it reduces the risk of misunderstandings and erroneous beliefs. This becomes extremely important when the team works in different timezones.
- Client needs scheduled meetings. In order to keep track of the project’s progress it’s important to set the hours when each team member is available and to set a clear schedule of all the meetings. This is done by the Project Manager in the very beginning of the project. He sets up all the calls via Google Calendar with an agenda and sends invitations to all the participants.
The remote work for most companies is not an alternative to the office work anymore, but rather the main format of teamwork and lifestyle. Although it has its peculiarities, once you’ve built trustful relationships between the team, Project Manager and the client, there will not be any obstacles on the way to the best results. The remote work allows all involved parties to work as a single mechanism.
The main condition that should be preserved by the remote team is that it should be available according to the agreed schedule and provide high-quality code. There are also some responsibilities put on both the client and the Project Manager.
Main responsibilities of the Project Manager:
- To set up clear and exact scheduled meetings for the team and the product owner.
- To provide full reports on the project’s progress.
- To make sure that the team is on the track according to planned timelines.
We also should mention that our Project Managers work not only with our own employees, but they also lead outsource teams which might be a part of the project. This means that the client doesn’t have to communicate with different departments or different managers in order to see the full picture of the project – he’ll just need to call his Project Manager, at any time.
- To set clear priorities for the team.
- To make decisions on business questions.
- To be available for all the planned calls.
- To ask questions if something is not clear and to always share feedback.
If all the project’s participants will work according to the plan and will stick to their main responsibilities we’ll definitely get a great product in the end.
Already have an awesome project idea? With a great remote team like ours you can turn your idea into reality in no time.