When having a remote team is an asset

Monday, March 26, 2018 by Ales

Digital agencies will sooner or later find themselves in a situation when they will face a project where their resources will be overextended or that the platform won't match the expertise of their in-house team. When situations like that arise, you will probably go out and try to find a remote partner. And that is by no means an easy and straight-forward endeavour. So what are the best ways to work and grow your remote partnerships? 

The first step would obviously be to accept and embrace the idea that working with a remote team is a good thing. You keep your agency's workflow going, no need for shelving projects and simplifying resource management. 

Of course, you would want to grow your in-house developmental team and agency as a whole, so working with a remote team could prove itself useful in your own dealings with HR. You can take your time selecting and cherry picking who would you want to add to your team. Naturally, you would want for new in-house team members to know how to code, but sometimes it is equally, if not even more, important for you they culturally fit in. And how do you that? By extending your culture to new employees. 

It should be the same with your remote team. We at AGILEDROP are trying to make the process of integrating a developer into our client's team as painless as possible. And no adjustments of any sorts to be made on your side. 

 

The cultural fit

I'm aware it can be difficult at times to fully show your remote team what are you about. Culturally, I mean. It can be time-consuming and stressful but is very beneficial for a remote teammate to learn how your agency works, what is your culture, your way of doing things. And as they are becoming teammates, every remote worker will appreciate being integrated and feel as the one of the gang. Sure, they won't go with you on Friday to grab a beer, but they will spend a greater portion of the day with your team, so they would want to fit in. 

An equally important aspect of successfully managing a remote team is trust. In the past couple of months, I spoke to a lot of digital agency owners, and some of them have had not so positive experience utilizing remote teams or remote developers. And feelings like that don't go away easily and it can be difficult to establish trust. So start small, learn and scale. Your team can assess the performance of a remote partner. If things work out, great, you probably got a new partner for quite some time. If things are not working out so well, talk and communicate, see what are the issues and challenges. Take your time, star small, tweak the processes on the way and everything should work out just fine.  

You might ask: “if it needs so much effort, why not use that time to hire an in-house developer?” Here is where economy of scale comes in. Onboarding a person or a team from AGILEDROP is the one-time investment that applies to any future developers and projects.

 

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The tools you use and processes you follow

A question that comes up virtually every time we talk to a potential customer is: "What do you use? Slack? Jira?" And we have the simplest answer possible: "We use what you use." From a technical standpoint, things are pretty straightforward, and it is not the job of a remote team to disrupt the processes which are already in place at an agency. And obviously function quite fine. So, if we all know what to use and how to use it, the failure or the success of communication and PM tools lies in how and for what people use them. 

It's the same with the processes. They are put in place because they work. The process, defined as a set of activities that interact to achieve a goal is about communication. In the same manner, as a PC operates by getting commands from a person sitting behind the screen and then starting different processes and interactions inside the machine to deliver the desired outcome, people working on a project interact with each other to navigate the team towards the end result. 

 

Facetime and the lack of it

Meeting you remote teammates would definitely be beneficial. It can be difficult but risking a day or two and a couple of hundreds of Euros needs to be seen more as an investment and not treated as a cost. Or you can connect online for a beer or a meal. And spend some quality time together and deepen the bonds in the team. From our experience, people from both sides want to know more about people they're working with and spending a substantial portion of the day. 

There are benefits to engaging a remote team. Either it can save you money. Or you make more money out of it. If for instance, you get a large contract which needs to be attended to in a couple of weeks and you don't have enough in-house capacities, a strong and reliable remote team can do the work. And there are some strategic advantages of partnering up with a remote team. 

 

Working closely with digital agencies and helping them at delivering over 200 enterprise-level projects we've learned what are the most common reasons for being reluctant to engage with a remote team. Or more specifically, our remote team. And on most occasions, voicing your concerns about how would it function, how to mitigate the risks, proved to be the step in the right direction. Get in touch, we'd like to learn more about how would you want to engage with a remote team.