How do we work with Remote Teams?
Nowadays more and more companies adopt the model of remote business, and it is not surprising, because there are many benefits. By choosing such a model of work, you can be sure - the best employees will work for you. It is caused because you do not limit yourself by choosing one city and if it is a million city, by choosing even a part of it. You will find good, qualified employee not being attached to the location. This model of work allows employees to be free in their movements, to travel and develop themself. Obviously, you will save money on rent and office support. By investing these funds into the salary of your staff, you will provide decent wages, attracting only the best professionals who can effectively increase your company's profits. I propose to consider the basic aspects of remote work.
How do we work with Remote Commands?
We have established OpsWay in 2013. We had to support our customers around the clock and solve real engineering problems during the day, evening and night. It seems to be quite a trivial task, but we solved it for a long time.
At first we tried to get developers to be on duty day and night, then tried to make shifts, and then we were hoping for alerts. Finally, we have realized that the only decent way - is to "follow the sun". We started to recruit developers who live exactly in that time zone, in which we need to be online. Having a remote part of the team - we have reconciled and have allowed ourselves to be completely removed, and we try to be them up to date.
What important things do we learned over the 3 years of remoteness?
Forget about freelancers
Freelancer is not an employee. Freelancers’ grandmothers die about 5 times a year, hard drives burn more than 10 times in half a year and I'm not talking about problems with electricity. It is becomes clear that you need remote workers, peoples who work constantly on you, just a month or two of the remote command construction.
Such employees should have an employment contract, the obligations for the company, rights, wages and so on. They must understand that they work in your company, and do not engage in freelancing.
Compare John and Mike
How can you compare one with another developer? How do you know who of them is better? Maybe someone engaged in something else at work, but run-around? Can project manager just like someone and cover him unconsciously?
In general, you need to learn how to evaluate the performance of their people, they should be aware of this assessment system and to accept it. You will never be able to control how long was your remote employee in the workplace, where is he now, what is he doing and so on. The only thing that you can and should measure - is the size of the employee’s values that he creates by working on you. Someday we will write an article how we have built it.
If he does a second job in the evenings - it's the time to say him goodbye
Once we have begun to evaluate our employees, it has immediately became clear, all the employees who have earned money somewhere else proved to be disastrously ineffective. It seems that they do nothing at all, but they professionally created around themselves an information motion, it seemed that they are located in the epicenter of events.
In general, just do not waste your time on them.
Do not gather directory in one place
What the stories I have heard about the "protests near the coffee machines", about short meeting in the corridors and their importance for the business. All the supporters of traditional structures prove that their business would not last a day without the coffee machines. What nonsense!
I think their problem is that they never said "let's everybody pass around in different countries and we will see what will happens." If you do not collect management in one place, all the questions will be solved on-line meetings no worth than offline. But if they are gathered in one place, they immediately begun to build around themselves structures and processes that are linked to the bellhops negotiations (which by the way are waste a lot of time!)
Let us suppose that all the same John and Mike are working on the same project in the same room every day. John raised the question, how Mike is going to do integration with, for example, his module. What does John do at this moment? He takes the paper in his hands, and throws it in Mike. Bah! The meeting is appointed and can be carried out - in 2 minutes John has the answer.
And now let’s send Mike to Barcelona, and leave John in London. What will happen? John will write a long letter to Mike with a list of questions and appointment of the meeting in a couple of days at a time convenient for him. What the crap? If you have a question - take a call on Skype. If he is online, he is at work. That is all. No formalities, consider Skype as the piece of paper, which you have thrown into a colleague at the next desk.
Pick the right people
Once I read a book that described how Zappos recruit their people. They came to a very correct conclusion: not even very qualified people come just for their company, for their specific culture. It is the same with remoteness. Not everybody can and wants to work that way.
If during the interview person doubts whether it is possible to work remotely, whether it is convenient – say him goodbye. If he constantly complains that the distance is not appropriate - help a person to find a job.
We have a turnover of 40-50% in the first month, but then people work for years, it gives us the opportunity to work with the "right" people and achieve great results.
Make the remoteness a culture
We are only at the beginning of this path, but it really works. For example, we have common accommodation in Cyprus where everyone can go to work. We are not greedy to pay for Slack, Confluence, Google Apps and other collaborative tools for making it easier for everyone to work together. At one point we even allowed our project managers to use their favorite specific tools in order to make the process of work as easy as possible (yes, we have some teams working in different trackers).
We try to tell each other from what country we are currently working; we share our photo in Instagram and Facebook. It is really cool to see how work in our company changes the lifestyle!
Perhaps it is the last thing that I write today. Probably there are still many important points, I'm sure that you'll find a lot more in the Remote and hundreds of other articles. It is important to understand that the remote command will not work without trust. Everyone should trust each other; everybody must be available to each other and try to help each other every day. Sometimes it seems to me that the distance unite more than work in one place. Trust each other; do not let the wrong people to be in your structure and everything will be okay!