COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted the way organizations operate and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Companies and governments around the world are scrambling to adapt to this new reality and are taking unprecedented measures to keep their employees safe and productive. For many organizations, this means employees are working remotely.

In particular, software development teams work exceptionally well in a remote fashion since the bulk of what they do simply requires a computer with a good internet connection. In fact, many software developers find working remotely provides greater autonomy, fewer distractions, and higher productivity. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers since the output is higher than ever, and the employee is happier than ever. Naturally, happy employees mean greater loyalty and retention and cost savings for the company.

While there are many perks, there are equally many ways companies can misstep when managing remote teams. Here are some best practices for software development teams that will set your team up for success during the pandemic:

Embrace The Accelerated Digital Transformation

The pandemic forced everyone’s hand to finally accept the need for advanced communication and project management software. Put plainly, operating remotely requires the right tech stack.

Your team needs communication tools to mimic the ability to walk over and ask anyone a question or provide a quick update. They need project management software, so everyone knows where to find the latest files or project updates they need to do their job successfully.

Ideally, they’d have some video conferencing software as well to simulate in-person meetings. These small but personal touches add up and foster an environment rich with accountability and connectivity. What more could you ask for?

Go With Nearshore Developers

When expanding your software development team, it’s best to go with nearshore software developers since they share a close proximity with your country. You’ll still get competitive rates you typically see with outsourcing but none of the headaches like dealing with 10 hour time differences or substantial cultural and language barriers.

Nearshore developers often share similar personal and business cultures, work ethics, and speak the same language. When working remotely, those crucial details make team assimilation and communication immensely easier to navigate.

Carve Out Time For Team Bonding

Now that you’ve built a first-rate team and provided the right tools for the job, it’s time to shift focus to improving group cohesion. An easy win for creating a culture of accountability, openness, and enthusiasm is keeping working group sizes small. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, has a famous “two pizza rule” to ensure his team sizes stay small and agile. As you can probably surmise, he believes if a team can’t be fed with two pizzas, then it’s too big.

Once in small teams, it’s best to find ways for them to get to know each other better. Some fun ice-breaker games include:

    • Two Truths and a Lie: Go around the room and have each person tell the team three statements – two true statements and one lie. Then people get to guess which of them is correct.
  • Bowl of Questions: The virtual version of this game involves creating a list of questions and entering them on a virtual wheel to randomize. People spin the wheel and answer corresponding questions so everyone learns a bit more about them.
  • Speed Networking: Similar to speed dating, you pair people up via video conferencing and give them 2-3 minutes to get to know each other. It’s best to provide them with a list of conversation starters to get the conversation flowing.

 

Beyond breaking the ice, it’s good to find time for quick stand-ups throughout the week to continue fostering team camaraderie. Some fun things you can do are playing virtual games such as Drawasaurus, where you can draw given words in front of the team, and they get points for guessing correctly. You could also make a “Guess That Song” playlist and quiz people on who performs the song or the song title.

Wrapping Up

The world is full of physical and cultural barriers, ranging from multiculturalism, time zones, work styles, and more. Yet with a little persistence, you’ll find that we’re all more alike than different. Great leaders strive to foster a work environment ripe with engagement, accountability, openness, and consistency. Such environments, physical or virtual, are the key to creating thriving teams.

At Scio we have been enabling remote Nearshore teams for US companies for over 15 years, so we know what it takes to work effectively under the current pandemic conditions. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more.

How are you keeping your remote teams engaged and productive during COVID-19? Tell us in the comments below: