Whether you are remote-first or running a hybrid business, building an effective remote team is a challenge. To make matters more complicated, remote tech teams have their own particular needs. Distributed tech teams require specific kinds of support and communication channels to ensure sustained productivity and innovation.
But this is more than manageable for any dedicated company, whether young or old, big or small, fully or partially remote. Especially considering the perks of remote working for productivity and employee engagement, it is very much worth the effort of coming up with new tech team building strategies for your employees.
Here we explore 5 key steps to building a high-functioning distributed tech team for companies of all shapes and sizes.
1. Get Seniors To Support Juniors
Omnipresent’s own Matt B spoke to one of our clients about why they were hesitant to have a remote tech team. “In this case, they were having trouble with their team (largely junior engineers) not being productive working remotely.” Matt offered basic yet powerful advice: “get some more senior engineers and product managers who can work day to day with juniors on what to build.
Senior engineers, developers, and product managers have more experience with their company’s product and work process. By getting them to facilitate and support the day to day work of juniors, you can ensure you are getting the productivity that you need. At the same time, junior members can learn and develop the right skills to succeed as the next generation of senior tech employees.
Offering senior to junior support is not about micromanaging or even about maintaining a company hierarchy. This is entirely up to you. What you want is to ensure your junior staff know what they are doing and how to reach out for help.
2. Write Everything Down
A fundamental step to top productivity levels is to write everything down. Writing things down is a way of replacing the old-school whiteboard. This means that all information is not only shared, but can be accessed at some point in the future also. Writing things down makes sharing much easier and also allows teammates to follow up on tasks independently and according to their own schedules. Team members can work autonomously while receiving senior support and working alongside their colleagues.
3. Ad Hoc Brainstorms
Ad hoc brainstorms are the key to keeping innovation going in your tech team. Encourage teammates, whether junior or senior, to reach out to one another to develop their ideas. Apps like Hallway or Donut can help with this. While they can definitely be used for general chats and regular meetings, both these apps focus on spontaneity. While careful research and planning are a mainstay of innovation, spontaneous brainstorming really powers new ideas and developments amongst tech employees.
4. Empathy & Communication
Most remote tech teams will tell you that effective communication gets you most of the way. On the one hand, the right kind of software and technology can really help facilitate this. Apps like Slack or Airmeet can be used for a variety of different communication needs like virtual coffee breaks, sharing memes or exciting developments across teams, developing collaborative projects, or reaching out for support.
A key ingredient to make communication work is empathy. Having empathy and encouraging this amongst team members will ensure people speak up whenever they need to and bring new ideas to the table. Even if these aren’t perfect from the beginning, encouraging open communication will allow for mistakes to be corrected early and budding ideas to blossom.
5. Culture & Values
Having your own remote culture and values can be really important to fostering a sense of belonging amongst remote teams. So you may want to make these explicit and build these into your team exercises and channels. Building qualities like open communication and empathy into your company culture may also be a way to foster a supportive environment for your distributed ted team.
But what may be even more important is to allow your tech team to actively develop and shape your company culture and values. When hiring, you don’t want to look for people who simply fit your bill who will simply make the products that you ask them to make. You rather want to find people with progressive behaviours who are able to develop themselves and their work. This is extraordinarily beneficial for the wider team and really encourages greater innovation and engagement.