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MODIFIED ON: November 29, 2022 / ALIGNMINDS TECHNOLOGIES / 0 COMMENTS

Building and Scaling Productive Remote Engineering Teams: Top Tips

The number of people working from home has been rising since 2009.

Over the past decade and so, most industries have realized the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely. In fact, hiring remote teams to build and scale businesses has become a norm in recent years.

According to Owl Labs, 16% of companies around the globe are fully remote. It may seem like a small percentage. Nevertheless, the trend shows a groundbreaking change happening in the industry. Because at the beginning of this century, terms like “remote teams” and “virtual businesses” were not so popular.  Such approaches were often termed as “non-workable models” by most companies.

But at the beginning of the past decade, things began to change.  More people choose to work remotely for better work-life balance and better opportunities.  Companies also started granting remote work to increase employee retention rate, flexibility and to attract a high talent pool. Today, 85% of managers think that remote teams will become a common practice in their industries.

The trend is more apparent in the IT, financial services, and healthcare (surprise!) industries. In the IT industry, the hiring of remote engineers happens mainly due to three reasons.

  • It is difficult to find the right talent locally.
  • It is expensive to hire locally.
  • More people are preferring to work remotely. Unless companies choose to hire remotely, this talent pool, which mostly consists of experienced professionals, is out of reach for them.

We have seen a 44% growth in remote working over the last 5 years. The rate of growth becomes 159% if we consider a longer duration of 12 years. If these numbers have proven one thing, it is that remote working is becoming the new norm in the industry.

So, as a business, how can you cope with this latest trend and leverage it to your benefit?

If you are looking for an answer to the above question, don’t worry, we have the answer ready for you.

In this article, we are trying to answer three commonly asked questions related to hiring remote engineers. They are

  • How to build a remote engineering team that fits your business?
  • How to manage and scale a remote team of developers?
  • Why should you hire remote engineers?

So, let’s dive into them.

How to build remote engineering teams?

Understand the actual role

When hiring for a position, the hiring team should first understand the position in depth.  They should understand what the position demands and how critical the position is for the business. They should also comprehend the existing chemistry between the teams and what work style will suit the environment perfectly. This will also help you as a hiring manager to evaluate whether the position is suitable to hire remotely.

Industry expertise

Along with technical and soft skills, the team should also evaluate the industry expertise of the candidates. A candidate who has enough expertise in the industry is less likely to make mistakes and she will need less supervision throughout a project. Hiring people with expertise will help you to avoid one of the biggest drawbacks of hiring remotely, communication issues.

Industry experience

Experience should be a primary parameter when evaluating candidates for a remote engineering role.

Just like candidates with industry expertise, an experienced candidate will be more familiar with the role and responsibilities. Such candidates can contribute to your business independently and also as a part of a team. The experience they have gained in their career will also help your existing team positively.

Also, keep in mind that remote working does not suit everyone. Hiring candidates who have already worked in a remote position will help you to mitigate the risk.

Availability and communication

Hiring a remote engineering team has its own challenges. When the teams are available on-site, communication is a breeze and availability is not an issue.

However, when hiring a remote engineering team, these two factors can become challenging. When you are hiring from a different time zone, the resource may not be available during a time that is convenient to you and the team. This will negatively impact the quality of the work and the timeline of the project. As a result, the cost of the project will also shoot up.

Thankfully the recent technological advancements have made a positive impact on the communication landscape.

The various communication and team collaborations tools available today can mitigate most of the communication issues arising from remote hiring. However, the hiring team should make sure that the candidates are comfortable working in a different time zone and the tools you are going to use are convenient for them too.

Hire remote teams from existing markets

Outsourcing talent is one of the most revenue-generating industries for many countries.

Countries like India, Vietnam and Ukraine already have a well-established outsourcing industry. This means that the talent in these countries is already accustomed to remote working, its culture and challenges. Moreover, they are more likely to be fluent in one of the international languages, making the language barrier irrelevant. 

Since a major chunk of revenue is coming from the outsourcing industries, such countries are also focusing on improving the infrastructure in this field. There are more IT parks emerging day by day and the people in these countries have access to electricity, better internet and higher education already. The lower living cost around this part of the globe warrants that the cost of hiring a remote team of developers is also affordable.

Hire pre-vetted remote engineering teams

The hiring process can be hectic. Especially when you are hiring remotely.  You have to make sure that the candidate is right for the role, right for the team, the “cultures match”, and successful hiring will contribute positively to the overall business. As a result, the hiring process can become complex, lengthy, repetitive, and tiresome for every party involved.

Thankfully, hiring pre-vetted remote teams helps you avoid this. A pre-vetted engineer is someone who has already gone through screening, interviews, and tests to prove that he or she is the right fit for a specific role.  So, by approaching such pre-vetted developers, you are most likely to find the right candidate.

How to manage remote engineering teams?

Managing and scaling a team of remote developers is different from hiring a remote team. To make it easier for you, here are a few tips on how to manage a remote engineering team, once hired.

Communicate clearly

When working with remote engineering teams, it is better to define a formal communication channel and set clear expectations. Unlike in an on-site work environment where communication is faster and informal, a remote work environment demands a different approach. Since availability, cultural background and language barriers can cause gaps in communication and lead to misunderstandings, it is better to plan and schedule face to face virtual meetings or define a formal channel to communicate. In a remote working environment, formal communication supported with documentation is the right approach.

Build rapport

A remote team should not be unorganized and unengaging. There should be a good connection and better understanding between team members and friendly engagements should be encouraged. When there is a good rapport between the team members, it is easier to come up with innovative ideas and the team will move in the same direction. A supportive environment will transform any challenging task into an opportunity to learn.

Encourage transparency

The number of software that can help you with team collaboration, documentation, project management, task management, incident response, bug tracking, design thinking, review and quality check etc. is higher than ever before. The use of such software not only brings transparency to the team but also helps you with managing the resource most effectively.

Here is a list of the most common software used in the industry.

  • Communication and collaboration: Slack, Google Hangout, Twist, Zoom
  • Task management: Todoist, Tick Tick, Microsoft ToDo
  • Project management: Jira, Asana, Trello, Basecamp
  • Incident response: Freshservice, PagerDuty, Dynatrace
  • Bug tracking: Asana, Jira, Sentry
  • Design thinking: InVision, Sketch, Figma, Abstract

Plan ahead

Planning and scheduling are most important when managing a team of remote engineers.  Every member of the team should have a clear understanding of the project roadmap and the role he is going to play. The task list and schedules should be communicated at the beginning of the project itself and they should be documented. With the right planning, the team will have a way to avoid uncertainty and can work in a stress-free environment.

Convenience and automation

One of the common mistakes everyone makes when dealing with a remote development team is excessive micromanagement. This can be in the form of an excessive number of daily meetings, morning, and evening status reports, using tools that question privacy, or excessive amounts of documentation. As a result, the remote team finds the working environment stressful and there is not enough time to complete the actual work.

So, it is better to schedule meetings only when necessary. The participation should be limited to people who would really benefit from the meeting. Most of the meetings can be replaced by a morning or evening email or with good project management software. Instead of using traditional documentation methods, we can use readily available tools, like the ones mentioned before, to improve team collaboration and track progress.

Why hire remote engineering teams?

Access to the right talent

Hiring the right talent locally can be difficult for so many businesses. There can be various reasons including affordability, lack of local talent, the nature of the business, indirect hiring cost, lack of flexibility or even the nature of the project.

For example, even though it’s rare in occurrence, companies may be forced to work on projects that are outside of their expertise. To fill the gap, they would need a person or a team of professionals who are an expert in a particular niche. If the demand for such expertise was always low in their country, the number of people with the right talent would also be less. It is because people are more likely to choose a career in fields with high demand so that they will never run out of opportunities.

So, if the talent is not available locally, what can the business do?

Of Course, dropping the project will have a negative impact on the business; especially when its growth is dependent on the completion of the project. In such cases, hiring remotely will be the right choice for them.

Affordability

The cost of hiring and maintaining a permanent team is the highest in countries like the USA. However, there are other countries like India and Ukraine where the salary for the same role is only a quarter of what it is in the US. So naturally, if a US-based company hires remotely from India or Ukraine they can save up on costs as they have to pay only an amount equal to the local pay band. This way companies can cut costs and improve their profit margin significantly.

According to Standford, employees that work remotely are more productive than on-site workers. The study also showed that remote staff have a lower attrition rate, and they work more hours per year than their onsite counterpart. This is mainly attributed to the better work-life balance and flexible working hours available to remote workers.

Flexibility

One of the benefits of hiring a remote engineering team is, you can hire them for the short term or long-term depending on the duration of the project. Since remote roles are not treated equally to permanent roles, cutting down or scaling the size of the remote team is easier and less complex.

If you are outstaffing the role, things become a lot easier since the salary, allowances and benefits are handled by the outstaffing agency.

Final thoughts

Hiring remote engineering teams has already become a norm in the industry. It helps businesses to save up costs, add flexibility to the business, find the right talents, and improve productivity. Even though building and scaling a remote engineering team has its own challenges, they can be easily mitigated by using the right methods and tools that are readily available.

AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in working on web, mobility, cloud, and AI technologies. We are offering a wide set of services including outstaffing and remote development. If you are looking for a pre-vetted team of remote developers, contact us now!

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