Remote Coders and their Conflicts with HQ/Full-Time Staffers
Managing programmers can be so difficult that it has been famously compared to herding cats. The complexities with managing programmers are compounded when they are not supportive of each other. Many businesses employ both remote and in-house workers. The reality is that in-house developers can and often are a major stumbling block to you effectively managing your resource pool. Most large dev shops understand that you can’t always hire the right person in-house. So not recognizing and addressing conflicts will only slow down your business plans.
In-house developers can often resent their remote counterparts. Remote developers receive a number of perceived traits simply because they are working remotely. Other developers will believe, right or wrong, that the remote worker is not as committed, hides their effort, is overpaid, and needs constant supervision to remain productive. This bias simply isn’t true. Here are some things to consider when working with both an on-site and remote team of developers.
CommunicationMany businesses depend on meetings to get everyone on the same page. However, most people who work in offices tend to dread meetings. In fact, contrary to the way that most businesses seem to operate, most communication does not take place during meetings. Much of the most important communication happens by coincidence, with chance interactions between team members. You can encourage these types of interactions virtually through social media and other online platforms like Slack.
CollaborationPeople can accomplish more when they work together. Every good manager knows that getting people to work together leads to better, more innovative solutions. Brainstorming is an essential part of this process. Intuitively, it may seem difficult to accomplish brainstorming remotely, but this is inaccurate. In fact, online collaboration tools can actually make brainstorming more effective by recording all interactions and reducing the tendency toward groupthink.
Shared KnowledgeComputer programmers are called on to solve the same or similar problems again and again. This wastes time and energy that can be better used advancing the interests of your business. In a well-functioning development environment, solutions should be cataloged, documented and indexed, so they can easily be reused later. When your programmers, both remote and on-site, have unfettered access to this repository of knowledge, your final product can only benefit.
Morale IssuesA competent manager can easily gauge the stress level of the team he/she oversees. The stress in an office is practically tangible. A good manager will sense this issue and take steps to ease the tension. With a remote workforce, stress is difficult to detect. The first sign of trouble could be a loss of productivity. The solution to this issue is improved communication. Your managers should monitor official employee interactions to be aware of potential issues before they get out of hand.
Performance EvaluationWorking remotely is not for everyone. While some workers thrive on the challenge of solving problems on their own, others crave the daily face-to-face interaction that only an office environment can deliver. When it comes time for employee evaluations, it’s important to understand this. If an employee is performing below standard, a change of environment could be the solution.
When you employ remote workers, it’s tempting to think of your remote programmers and your in-house workers as two separate groups. In reality, it’s better to think of your workers as a single workforce with a single mission; to serve your customers. For the managers that master the areas addressed here, remote coders and issues with HQ staffers do not need to be a problem.