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Dave Antrobus Gives Perspective: How to Successfully Manage Remote Software Development Teams
Dave Antrobus highlights the benefits of remote working in the software development industry and explains how to avoid the drawbacks that fuel employer concerns.
Over the last few months, companies around the world have adapted their working processes to accommodate the COVID-19 lockdown, but these changes won’t be as temporary as once expected. Instead, our new ways of working are reshaping the corporate world and re-defining office norms as we transition into post-lockdown work.
One of the biggest office changes is the rise of remote working. The proven benefits of remote working had led many companies to encourage working from home before the pandemic, but remote working under lockdown has made these benefits even clearer, especially in the software development industry. Historically, remote working has been frowned upon – and even banned in some cases – but working from home has now been embraced as an option worldwide.
However, some employers may feel that continuing to allow remote work is a premature move for their company. They may not have managed a remote team before lockdown and now harbour worries that their team won’t work collaboratively in a remote capacity long-term.
The Benefits of Remote Working
Here, Fresh Thinking Group’s Dave Antrobus delves into the proven benefits of remote working – especially for software developers – and explains how to overcome problems that may arise when employees work from home.
First, here are Dave’s top four benefits of remote working.
New research from Digiterre shows that technology teams tend to work more productively from home than they do in the office. Teams report that when working from home, they have fewer interruptions and can focus on one task at a time. Almost all respondents in the Digiterre study reported that their software development team’s productivity has improved under lockdown – one organisation even reported a productivity increase of 30%.
2) Happier Developers
Developers who work from home typically report that they feel happier in their personal lives and are more appreciative of their jobs. They know that their employers don’t feel the need to micro-manage them and trust them to work effectively from home. When employees feel valued and trusted, they’re more likely to perform well. Allowing the flexibility of remote working is often the perk that motivates employees to go the extra mile.
3) Commute and Lunch Savings
Remote workers don’t have to spend money on commutes and lunches, which can eat a huge portion out of a salary for traditional office workers. Plus, remote working means that employees gain time they would otherwise spend commuting. This allows them to fit in school drop-offs and gym sessions, enabling them to spend more time with their children and on their wellbeing without having any negative impact on the company.
4) Remote Tools
Software development is suited to remote working due to the vast range of tools on hand for remote, collaborative working. Development tools include the popular Atlassian suite and version control systems such as GIT, while video calls can be easily facilitated through platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
How to Prevent Issues Associated with Remote Working
Many companies that have previously been reluctant to adopt remote working have been surprised by the success that they have achieved under the lockdown remote conditions. But for those companies that don’t have experience of remote working, it can be difficult to anticipate challenges that can arise from teams working at home.
Here are three main issues that can arise from remote working and Dave Antrobus’ tips on how to overcome these problems.
The most common remote-working problem is isolation. Many employees enjoy the face-to-face aspect of their work and feel lonely when working at home. However, remote workers often only feel lonely when companies manage remote working ineffectively. Employees working remotely should still be fully involved in collaborative processes and meetings. They shouldn’t fall off the radar and be left to work in silence. Teams should still communicate in regular video-chat meetings and phone catch-ups. Remote teams should always feel involved and included.
Managers should take steps to ensure that team members don’t suffer from loneliness while working remotely. They should check in with their teams often, avoid cancelling one-to-one meetings, and let team members know when they’re having a particular impact. It takes seconds to send a text to let someone know that they are making a difference. Managers can also engage their teams through online games and conversations to keep morale high.
For example, Inc & Co, one of the subsidiaries funded by Fresh Thinking Group, runs a host of virtual games and social events – including online quizzes – to keep loneliness at bay. Dave Antrobus and his team use Slack to encourage remote team members to engage in threads such as ‘Question of the Day’. Getting creative can be helpful when it comes to keeping remote teams inspired and included.
2) Difficulty Tracking Accountability
When team members work from home, it can be difficult to measure their productivity. Employers may struggle to monitor how employees work or hold them accountable. However, this problem can be easily overcome by using time-tracking and productivity monitoring tools, such as Everhour, Harvest, and Hubstaff. These tools build a culture of transparency and provide easy breakdowns of time spent on projects.
3) Security Concerns
Some employers worry that remote working will open doors to security issues, which can be a major concern for software teams that deal with large amounts of sensitive data. However, it’s easy to implement the following security measures to keep data secure for remote access.
· Use a password manager to protect all of your accounts without having to store lists of passwords. Plus, when a team member leaves, you’ll only need to change one password for recruits’ accounts.
· Install encryption software and remote-wipe apps so that you can clear any data should a company device get lost. An important note: you can only install encryption software and remote-wipe apps on devices that the company paid for.
· Invest in a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and ensure that your team can access the internet on remote devices.
· Update your anti-virus software and request that staff run daily scans.
· Ensure that all employees set their devices to lock after five minutes of inactivity, either using fingerprint or password protection.
Setting a Healthy Remote Working Culture
Your team will follow your lead in the working culture that you set. As a role model for inclusive remote working, you can directly inform productivity and staff satisfaction by embracing this flexibility. The stronger your example of healthy remote working, the easier the transition will be for your team.
About Dave Antrobus
Dave Antrobus is the Technology Director at Fresh Thinking Group and an award-winning software engineer who has worked on a multitude of groundbreaking online platforms for major brands, including Google, Matalan and SimplyBe
As a co-founder of the independent capital investment agency Fresh Thinking Group, Dave coordinates technical solutions for the Group’s acquisitions. Fresh Thinking Group invests in and acquires healthy companies looking to grow, distressed companies in need of new strategies, and start-ups looking for guidance from business-development experts.
Dave’s renowned business guidance is based on his expansive experience in web and mobile app design and development, graphics, SEO, social media, marketing, and PR. His technical knowledge is core to the transformation processes that Fresh Thinking Group’s companies undergo.
Learn more about Fresh Thinking Group at https://freshthinking.group.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes