As a follow up to my remote working post I thought I’d write a post discussing a few things I think companies and teams can do to improve the experience for remote workers.
If any of your team members are remote, make sure everyone goes on their own computer and dials into a video call. As soon as you have a few team members sat next to each other there will be an instant disadvantage for those dialling in. Those people sat together will be able to talk easier, and much quicker. They may even start talking together, and then those dialling in will not be able to hear what is being said. If all team members are dialling in, you’ll leave that split second before speaking and interrupt each other less. This puts all team members on the same playing field.
If as a team you have a daily face-to-face stand up, and one of your team members is remote, take that little bit of time and effort to dial them in. It’s surprising what bits of information the person not included may miss. I once missed a vital bit of information that resulted in me spending 2 hours trying to set up a project from a bitbucket repository when in fact the company had moved to GitHub.
Whatever system you use to keep track of tasks, be it Trello or Jira, always make sure the acceptance criteria on the tickets are correct. If the criteria changes make sure to update the ticket information as soon as possible. You don’t want your team member working on a feature that is no longer correct. Even more important if your team member is in a different timezone and you don’t always get face-to-face conversation.
Do you have coding standards that members of the team should follow? Does the team have a particular review process for pull requests? If there are workflows, or structures that members of your team should follow have them documented very clearly somewhere. Actually whether team members are remote or not, documenting this is important for new members of the team too.
You could even go one step further than documentation; automated code linting. This means that a team member gets instant feedback on their code without having to wait for a human to tell them.
Face to face calls
One thing that you can miss out on when working remote is face-to-face communication. Rather than spending time typing out something over Slack you could have a quick call. If you were in the office and wanted to rubber duck with someone for a few minutes you would ask them. This can be done with remote working too. Having a face-to-face call saves you both so much time. Also it’s nice to have a quick video call to keep in touch with the team.
Now did you notice anything about all of these points… they are all about communication. This is fundamentally the most important thing with remote teams. I truly believe that if your communication as a team is not good, working remote will not be an enjoyable experience.