How to manage a remote development team in 2023
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How to manage a remote development team in 2023

To manage a remote development team, you must know how effectively you can connect with the team and maintain the highest level of motivation so that everyone is giving their best and being productive even when they are facing tasks by themselves.

Whether your business is temporarily working from home or you’re leading a remote team, these tips and best practices will help you overcome obstacles, improve collaboration, and knock your key performance indicators (KPIs) out of the park.

Challenges to manage a remote development team and how to overcome them

Woman staring at two screens with code while working in an office setting

While managing remote teams has a suite of benefits, there are obstacles to remote work that can hurt collaboration.

First, let’s address the most common obstacles to remote collaboration, then, let’s see ideas on how to solve them. Understanding what you’re facing will give you the foundation you need to learn the remote management techniques.

The problem: Low productivity due to the struggles of isolation.

Isolation is something to deal with, as companies are the corporate communities we all participate in and most of us spend half of our lives. But if we’re working alone and are in a remote team, we’re isolated from community activities that have been natural for most of our human history.

The solution: sharing time

The ad-hoc communications or informal chats typical of the office environment that also foster social relationships in general and, specifically, in the work team are lost with the remote modality. It’s good to compensate for this type of situation with team-building activities such as online games, social media challenges, informal meetings, and even special conventions where team members can see each other in person every once in a while.

The problem: poor communication

If communication isn’t very fluid, there’s a risk of giving very poor feedback on the team’s work, so it is recommended to emphasize this point.

If we limit the conversations only to chat, the words we use represent only 7% of what we want to communicate, the other 38% corresponding to the tone of voice and volume, and the other 55% to non-verbal communication. Therefore, 93% of what we want to communicate would not be visible. We need communications to flow in all directions to avoid dealing with these scenarios or at least lessen their impact.

The solution: diverse communication channels

Although virtual contact can rarely replace face-to-face contact, it’s important that each team has regular meetings and that members can see, hear, and interact with each other. Scheduling time for video and audio interactions with the proper use of software tools will work in our favor, creating a great experience for each of the team members.

Regarding communications, it’s important to note that, in a remote team, there should also be a limit to communication because the barriers of days/times are blurred. Establishing limits to communication will help maintain the work/life balance as stable as possible to differentiate between times and not feel like they’re working 24 hours a day.

The problem: unaddressed or unseen productivity issues

When it comes to productivity and performance, there are tools that measure these things. If you don’t use them, it can become quite a challenge. Additionally, there are people who don’t have high-quality communication and management skills, which can translate into mistakes and misunderstandings. 

For example, if it’s not clear who is doing what and who is responsible for what and people are self-managing, there’s a good chance that efforts will be duplicated, causing the same task to be carried out multiple times, reducing the overall quality and efficiency of the team. 

The solution: measurement tools and planning

The issues above highlight the importance of having task tracking tools that allow general visibility of the team, its tasks, progress, and those responsible. Clarity is essential in this regard.

Making the most out of project management and task administration tools along with time-measurement features will help you keep an organized and easy-to-read record that can showcase if your team is staying behind, having obstacles, or, on the other hand, outperforming and in need of recognition. Tools like trello, Jira, Wrike, and others can help you achieve this.

These tools also serve to assign specific tasks to each team member publicly, preventing duplicated work. This will help each team member to increase productivity as a developer and stay on top of their game.

How to create long-lasting motivation after you hire a remote development team

Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%. However, the emotional obstacles that come with remote work, including isolation and a harder to distinguish work-life balance could deplete even the hardest working team members. 

On the other hand, keeping your team motivated could unlock the door to long-lasting maximum productivity. As it’s proven that employees work 20% better when motivated and highly engaged teams boost company profitability by 21%, also reducing attrition, which is an ever-increasing issue.

Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain

Criticizing is easy. Pointing out what’s wrong and condemning someone for it takes way less time and effort than trying to make a learning experience from it. People usually feel ashamed and try to justify themselves, even creating some resentment in the long term.

Instead of punishing people for their mistakes, reward people for their accomplishments. People usually take pride in what they have been congratulated for, enriching the learning experience and making them more likely to repeat the desired behavior in the future.

Give honest and sincere appreciation

Most people are moved by the desire to be important. And how do people feel important? By appreciation and encouragement. Demonstrating to people that you value and respect them will not go unnoticed. It’s important to note that honest appreciation is not the same as plain insincere flattery. 

Spitting out nice words that have little meaning will take you nowhere. Instead, look for their good qualities, and demonstrate your appreciation for them. This person will most likely remember you and your words for years to come.

Arouse in the other person an eager want

Every person is interested in what they want. So, how could I make someone interested in what I want? The key is to show the other person how they could also benefit from it and consequently want it.

So, again, how could you achieve this? Understanding what they want, and showing them how they could actually get something from what you are proposing will take you a long way. If they also want it, they are much more likely to do it than if they are doing something for someone else.

How to manage a remote development team that is cross-cultural

A team is the synergy of distinct mindsets and skill sets that collaborate to work for a common purpose. It is anyway difficult to manage a team with disparate personalities. What makes it even more challenging is managing a cross-cultural team that transcends different cultures and geographies. That’s why here we share three simple tips to manage cross-cultural remote teams.

Speak Universally and double-check team preparedness

Try not to use similes, idioms, or common sayings if you suspect not everyone knows or understands them. It’s tempting to speak with abstract expressions if you don’t know how to express your needs or vision in detail and are trying to leave room for the team to make their own choices. 

However, this could lead to recurrent misunderstandings, loss of time and resources, and frustration. Instead, try to be specific and ask team members to explain in their own words what they understood so everyone can be on the same page.

To manage a remote development team, talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

People will pay much more attention to what they are interested in than anything else. If you approach them with your ideas and don’t acknowledge there’s someone else on the other side of the conversation, you’ll get nowhere.

Make sure you understand what the other person is interested in and talk about it with them. Even if you’re not an expert on the subject, they will be excited to talk about something they like and approach the conversation more enthusiastically.

Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Most people you cross paths with feel superior to you in some way. And as we’ve already mentioned, feeling important is one of the most meaningful things to human beings.

You should identify the other person’s strengths and subtly acknowledge and recognize their importance. Think about what you admire from them and let them know about it. We all like to hear good words about ourselves, so we should do it with others too.

Pro tip: Using phrases like “I’m sorry to bother you,” “Would you mind,” or “Would you be so kind to” also contribute to showing respect and appreciation for the other person’s help.

If you want to learn more about how to enhance the software developer experience, read our article about how to keep new hires engaged and on board.

The easiest and fastest way to hire a remote development team and manage it successfully

At, we have vast experience managing large and small remote teams of Latin American software developers, taking the administrative, recruiting, and motivational work off your plate so you can focus on what you do best: grow your business. 

So, if you’re interested in augmenting your remote team or hiring remote software developers, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to learn more about your company.

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