Over years I have seen a lot of companies struggle to have a cultural fit with a remote team. The remote team could be an offshore or nearshore team in a vendor place or in its own subsidiary. I thought of writing this article to share some of the experiences, it is not a comprehensive list as I could write a book on it and still be left out with some of my thoughts.
Working well with a remote team doesn’t need to be difficult, unpredictable or stressful. All it requires is good business planning and a tad of goodwill that binds the trust of the entire organization. Some of the questions that would erupt in your mind while planning to take up the idea of a remote team are:
It is normal to have these questions before settling with a remote team, but there are ways which when followed can help in better management of the team. We’ll be discussing some of it in this article.
The project must be managed in such a way that both – the in-house and the remote team are on the same page. The scrum agile management process has proven to be very successful in such scenarios, and a lot of companies are adopting the same as it helps in fostering the culture of accountability, trust and also boosts the team’s productivity along with keeping every one flexible to changes. You could also use some of the cloud-based project management tools like Asana, JIRA, or Smartsheet. If you want to know more about these or want me to recommend other tools then feel free to reach out.
To have a successful team – decisions need to be communicated across all geographies and there should be no friction in the development environment. There should also be no vagueness in the work that is done and actual reports about any issues, bugs, fixes must be communicated instantly. In short, there should be a clear transparency in the entire organization regarding the development of the project as it helps in having a clear picture of where our project is leading to.
Smart automation is the key to having a successful remote team, as you would want your team to focus on high-impact work rather than dealing with mundane, time-consuming and mundane things. For example, the traditional approach to manual data entry, or a tester continuously repeating the testing procedure to identify bugs etc can be automated and individuals can be put into tasks that actually require brainstorming.
One of the biggest concerns of having a remote team is to deal with the time-zone differences. Both, the in-house and the other teams must fix their schedule in such a way that there is no hurdle in them communicating and they should be ready to accept other team’s requests in case of emergencies. Businesses can actually achieve ‘round-the’clock’ efficiency if developers in different time zones are assigned to different aspects of the project.
The organization’s mission, vision, strategy, and ideas must be effectively be communicated to every member of the remote team. They should be ready to embrace the company’s culture and work around it to achieve company’s long-term and short-term goals. Regular travel of the team to facilitate in-person contact is always a bonus. It helps in building long-term relationships and shaping the culture.
There are tools which can be immensely helpful. Enterprise chat like Slack can help with asynchronous communication, Video conference can in Building and fostering personal connections, Evernote can help in brainstorming idea and sharing in real time with people, Trello can help track smaller items, airtable can help in online collaboration of excel. I understand that there could be restrictions from the IT department to use some of these tools and you need to choose what is suited to your need.
There are many other things which can be helpful in managing a remote team. I will be writing about some of in the follow-up articles.
To wrap it up – “remote” and “offshore” should no longer be the “scary” words in your vocabulary. The economy is going global. Managing a remote workforce might not be as difficult as it may sound. Communication and using the right tools remain the keys to having a successful team irrespective of the geographies.
Abhishek Prasad has over 15 years of people experience working with blended models of outsourcing and offshoring across USA, Canada, India, Malaysia, and Japan.
Abhishek Prasad is the Director, Head of Digital Transformation at Aexonic Technologies. He has been a Management Consultant, with the first-hand experience of how technology can drive business change. Worked with Big Four accounting firm, he is experienced in advanced analytics and reporting within the professional services, Life Science, Utilities, and banking industries. Abhishek has consulted with multiple fortune 100 companies and startups, so understands the challenges faced by large enterprises and how technology can help them gain competitive advantage. He has been an SAP consultant and led multiple business transformation projects across the globe.