Working with Remote Developers

More companies continue to embrace the remote work force for many reasons. Cost savings on overhead, time lost in travel to and from work, and advances in economical communication help make working remote a very tangible commodity. Moreover, multiple studies show remote workers are more productive, more engaged, and more loyal to their company (see study links at blog’s end).

Communication

Like many I can thrive in both scenarios given certain criteria. The face-to-face interaction of open bull-pen style work environment is without question very productive. Beats antiquated pigeonholed cubicles 100 fold, because of the constant communication, ability to quickly problem solve across the team, cross-training by osmosis, and reduction in learning curve for new comers. Without question productivity will rise.

However, once developers are organized and have clear definition of what they need to accomplish, remote can be a better scenario and there is a multitude of cost effective software to support the remote developer including:

  1. Google Hangouts and other software can give you constant face-to-face communication
  2. Developers using Slack are afforded constant updates to activities via its Twitter style UI
  3. Trello gives users a place for thoughts, ideas, collaboration and much more in a Kanban style interface
  4. Visual Studio Online (VSTS), GitHub, and many others give us distributed source control and project management
  5. Document sharing repositories are plentiful and economical
  6. Cloud technologies have made it easy to work from anywhere on the global

Frankly, there is no need to get up from your desk or couch to communicate professionally with any team member and be an effective developer.

Top Talent

Companies that choose to embrace the remote worker will attract and keep top talent as it shows trust. Something we all desire and frankly top talent commands. They do not need to put up with insecure power hungry micro-mangers that want you to code in a corner 16 hours a day. They have worked too hard to get where they are… and where are they? Delivering your business more value than any in-house worker who punches the clock at 5:30 PM everyday.

The quantifying measurement is simple. Is the remote developer delivering business value? If yes, then great. If no, then there is no need to waste business time and money. Fire their ass and find someone who better fits the team.

The Work Schedule

As you will see in the below studies most remote developers work more hours than their in-house counterparts; however, it may not be 8 to 5. In fact, as you probably have witnessed software developers are cats of a different breed. They will work entire weekends without sleep, downing gallons of energy drinks and prescription drugs until the problem is solved…. correctly.

Do not get hung up in work schedules, but focus on the business value delivered every sprint. It’s the Project Managers job to keep the business informed of developer activities and to set work schedules accordingly. The business need not worry itself with such mundane tasks. Again if the development staff is not delivering business value…. get rid of them and find a team that can.

Conclusion

Embrace change. It’s there for a reason. Hire quality talent that can take your business above the competition, pay them, trust them, or get rid of them. It’s worth it and remember: “Work is not a place, but something you do.” – Laurie Heltsley

Below are most of my resources (not including my brain) that you should check out. These go in-depth on the topic including how to get started, manage, and get the most out of your remote work force.

Harvard Business Review

Time Magazine Business & Money

Conspire

GitHub

Business Insider

Haacked

Other stuff you should read

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