Leadership and Management
Common Issues When Working With Remote Developers

Common Issues When Working With Remote Developers

by Carlos A. Vázquez   |   September 1, 2018   |     4 min read
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The growing popularity of remote work has become a force to be reckoned with. Millions of Americans now work from home, many of them in the technology and IT sectors, as communications and security issues iron themselves out and the job offers great freedom and versatility to top young talent all over the world. As a trusted hiring partner, CodersLink has connected a variety of companies with talent from Mexico. In talking with project managers, we have found several common problems they often face when dealing with their remote team. We thought we’d discuss some of these issues and possible solutions.

One of the themes we always hear about when it comes to managing virtual teams is in regards to communication. In fact, most of the issues tend to fall within this larger umbrella of good communication. It has to do with the fact that this is not black and white and there is no manual for “effective communication” in a field where tools and practices change from company to company and project to project.

Constantly Chasing Work Progress

One of the main issues we heard about from virtual management teams was that managers felt they were often “chasing” developers to hear about progress, discuss advancements, or issues. This kind of communication breakdown is common when there are no ground rules set up from the beginning.

The precise reason for why managers struggle with this is not clear, but based on experience with remote workers, you learn that no matter what company, some of the issues are common across the board. While there are many different kinds of people that work from home, most professional and seasoned remote developers will either naturally possess—or develop—certain qualities. A couple of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-starters
  • Self-sufficient and independent
  • Organized
  • Disciplined
  • Creative
  • Problem solvers

You might look at this list and think, ‘what is wrong with any of that?” Nothing. All of these are desired qualities in any employee, but particularly strong in those that work remotely because of the nature of the work. The fact that many of these developers are independent and creative —people that don’t need to be told what to do in order to get the job done— might also not be the best communicators or understand how important it is to keep managers on top of their progress.

For managers, however, it is important to know the movement and progress of every employee and have some sense of how things are progressing in order to avoid problems. Here are a few management tactics to keep in mind when hiring remote developers.

  • Structure: Set up a structured work week as if the employee was in the house. A good time to do this is during onboarding and training. This seems simple enough, but it must be consistent and include some kind of back and forth with your employee.
  • Mandatory Meetings: Set up regular mandatory meetings where remote workers can talk with you via phone or video conference and catch you up on the weeks’ progress.
  • Explicit Expectations: While some things might seem obvious to you, it is not always the case to people that are new to the company. Being explicit about your expectations is especially important because it sets the ground rules. Without a solid foundation, things can get rocky pretty fast.  

Time Tracking Tools

Technology is helping us work better too. There is a constant flow of new tools and platforms that help managers keep track of task management, daily projects, and arising issues or roadblocks. Some tools can provide tracking specific progress during the day, either through checklists, screenshots, data, or different types of communications.

Don’t let the Chase Scare You Away

You don’t have to be chasing down your developers. When you structure the work and demand certain benchmarks and communication standards, these will soon be sewed in to your (and your employees) day to day. As more and more people figure out the best ways to work outside of the office, the benefits are becoming all too clear. It not only saves overhead costs and allows you to connect with talented developers all over the world, but it can really help your company grow and prosper as new and creative talent jumps on board.

If you manage remote teams and have other frequent issues you run into, let us know below and we’ll write some solutions!

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