Working with remote software developers is quite different from working with in-house developers. Aside from the obvious differences in location, remote work comes with its own unique set of benefits and challenges. From working with developers in different time zones, to balancing how often you should check in with your employees, the entire process can seem confusing or overwhelming. We’ve spoken previously about how to build and manage distributed teams, but this article will help guide you through the process of hiring and managing remote developers and freelancers.
Come Up With a Game Plan
Before you start the hiring process, you need to take the time to define exactly you need to create your application. Is this a large-scale project that requires multiple team members? Or are you able to accomplish what you need with just one or two developers?
Additionally, think about what you want actually want from your application. What is the main goal of your app? What should it accomplish or do? What does it not need? Do you need to hire a developer with a highly specialized skillset? Will the project be utilizing several programming languages? These are all vital questions to consider before you start looking for ideal candidates. If the project manager isn’t sure what they want, how are the developers going to know what they should create?
Once you’ve got a clear idea of your project, think about positive or helpful traits that you’d like to see in your future employees. Here are a few to look for:
Prior Freelancing Experience
This seems like an obvious factor to consider, but it’s nevertheless an important one. Freelancing and remote work is quite different from working in-house alongside coworkers. Junior developers and other programmers who have only worked in-house are typically used to receiving a certain amount of technical training and on-boarding. While you shouldn’t throw new employees into a project completely blind, experienced freelancers and remote workers shouldn’t need a lot of help. They should be able to work on their own, without someone constantly checking in on them or guiding them.
Excellent Communication Skills
Due to their remote status, you won’t be able to easily meet with your future developers. It can be challenging to work without the benefits of speaking face to face, or being able to call an impromptu meeting before folks head out of the office. It gets even more complicated when you have developers in different time zones, so having strong communication skills is an absolute must. Video chat and phone calls will only get you so far, and it’s easy to send mixed signals when communicating through chat or email. Make sure to establish clear expectations of what you need from your developers, and what they can expect from you in terms of communication.
Ability to Work Collaboratively
Software developers typically don’t work as efficiently when there’s a manager lording over them every minute. When working with remote developers, it’s important to keep in a mind a more flat, collaborative model. Keep in mind that your developers have unique skills and experiences, and that each one brings something different to the table. If you work alongside them and simply guide them towards what you want, they’ll greatly appreciate it. Encourage them to collaborate with each other and be proactive in solving problems, as opposed to constantly seeking guidance.
Benefits of Hiring Remote Developers
Your Candidate Pool is Much Larger
As software development becomes a more popular career path, potential candidates are popping up all over the globe. Without the limitations of physical location, you open yourself up to the possibility of hundreds of potential developers. It might make your hiring process a bit longer, but ultimately you’ll have a higher chance of finding someone that 1) does great work, and 2) works well with you. It’s worth it to take that extra time to make sure that your application will be the best it can be.
Higher Worker Satisfaction
Remote workers get to manage their own time. They schedule themselves and take breaks when they need them. They’re much more likely to be refreshed and ready to get down to work when they need to. Remote teams fulfill the work/life balance checkbox completely. Trusting your development team to work remotely and autonomously might be the best choice an executive can make for their company. Giving your employees the freedom to develop software in the way that’s most comfortable for them will create loyalty. As the saying goes, happy employees, happy company.
No Negative Office Culture
Working in-house has some great advantages. Humans are a social species, and the benefit of directly speaking with and collaborating with coworkers should not be understated. Even so, office culture also has several negatives. It’s particularly easy to get distracted or interrupted, which is troublesome when it comes to software development. A good developer can easily jump back into the action, but it takes time to get back into the groove of things. Remote workers with access to a comfortable, private space can do so much for the quality of your finished product.
Handy Tips to Keep in Mind
Conduct Regular Check-Ins
While it’s important for your developers to be independent and manage their own time, make sure that you’re regularly checking in on them. This doesn’t mean that you should ping them every half hour, it just means that you maintain a regular schedule. This way any questions or concerns can be addressed quickly. You’ll also build a rapport with your developers, which is important when you need them to be honest or transparent with regard to any hesitations they have, or other topics they might want to discuss.
Take Your Developers’ Feedback Into Consideration
If you’re hiring experienced remote workers, chances are they know things that you don’t. Even though you’re managing them, take their advice and input into consideration. Drawing on past experiences gives them a completely different perspective than you, particularly if you’ve never worked with remote workers before. Their advice could be refreshing for you, or even help avoid potential issues in the future.
Want more tips on working with remote development teams? Click here.
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