Working within a remote or distributed team is the new business reality. 87 percent of managers report increased productivity by about 5-25 percent as a result of remote working, and 65 percent of employers say flexible working practices had a positive impact on recruitment and retention. There are many reasons to work in a distributed team; sometimes it is out of necessity because great talent doesn’t always live next door. At Letzgro, we know the Ukraine is a talent klondike, and there is no shortage of talented IT specialists who can deliver high-quality products at an affordable rate. Still, many of the companies we collaborate with are distributed in various regions across the globe, and some companies are still skeptical of a team’s efficiency in this context.
Based on a popular Quora discussion, here are top five concerns facing distributed teams and how to combat them:
Ineffective and Unclear Communication
Communication is the number one concern for teams working remotely. The cornerstone of distributed team communication comes during your weekly retrospective meetings, the same as any other agile development project. Every team member should be involved in these meetings: marketing department, sales department, co-founders and stakeholders, project managers, analysts, software developers, and QA specialists. These meetings are a chance to discuss what went well, and what did not. This is a time when it’s important for team members to connect and interact, ask questions and help each other out.
“Physical proximity does not guarantee collaboration. It’s your company processes and values that decide that,” says Dan Martell, CEO, and Founder of Clarity. By establishing clear project goals and values at the beginning of the project to get every team member on the same page, you are able to reduce their dependence on direct communication. One way to do this is through presentations, which help developers understand the project and instigates innovative ideas. It also helps developers get acquainting with the team dynamic, which can greatly affect team motivation. To maintain this unity throughout the project and keep developers on the same page, continue to share relevant business news that can provide context to the project goals and business objectives
Sometimes when you are working with distributed teams, one team is starting their day while the other is going to bed, which can cause significant issues if all team members are not updated on progress. It’s extremely important to keep the backlog full and updated, and changes and additions to the backlog should be made throughout the day as needed.
Unable to Track Working Status
Having a conversation through a project and issue tracking software saves an inordinate amount of time and really enhances team communication and collaboration. Letzgro suggests JIRA in a recent white paper it published: “You cut the time between the moment of task creation and the moment it is taken into elaboration.”
Cannot Iterate Quickly
When communication issues arise and time zone differences get in the way, speed and quality can diminish significantly. By implementing the practices that are recommended in the previous three sections, your team should be able to operate as quickly as if they were working right next to each other.
Lack of Social Interactions
There are countless technologies that can be used to maintain social interactions throughout the day, it’s just a matter of deciding which platform you will use for what purpose. Walter Chen, CEO of iDoneThis, says, “At LKR Social Media they use Yammer for water cooler conversation, iDoneThis to keep everyone in the loop on work status, Google Hangout for video conferencing, Skype for one-on-one calls, PB Works as an internal Wiki, and Wrike for structured conversation about projects.” Find the technologies that work for you, and cover all your communication bases to keep team members engaged.
Letzgro recently published a white paper based on talk we gave in the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto that provides valuable guidelines for creating a reliable and successful distributed team. For more in-depth information on distributed teams, read our white paper.