While some companies are resuming in-person work, many tech teams are still operating from their independent home work spaces. The adjustment to remote work has left many managers disconnected from their teams.
So how can managers keep their remote engineers engaged and connected to team goals?
There are lots of fantastic resources out there for strategic management of remote teams. Rather than repeat what has already been shared in those resources, we wanted to give a quick overview of the biggest priorities when it comes to remote onboarding; we call them The Three C’s.
1 - Communication. It sounds simple, but proper communication can be challenging with remote engineers. When you're working with your team in person, communication happens organically. Whether it's at the water cooler, or a teammate stopping by a peer's desk to ask a quick question, communication is a breeze in the office.
When team members work in isolation, communication becomes more intentional. Make it clear to your engineers that questions are always welcome, and keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. Also make sure you clearly communicate expectations around remote work, and have frequent check-ins with remote engineers to stay updated on projects.
2 - Context. When we talk about context for remote work, we're really focusing on how each engineer's work fits into the bigger picture of the team goals. It might be easy to set the context in person through team meetings and briefs, but when your engineers are scattered in their separate home work environments, that connection to the big picture gets lost easily.
As you manage remote engineers, make sure they don't just focus on the current task at hand; provide context on how this project feeds into the next stage of work, and what they should be learning about or preparing for as they move forward.
3 - Culture. Culture is another aspect of team management that is easily built in person. When you're all together in the same office, people talk, and they pay attention to one another. Even your newest engineers can pick up on the nuances of their team, learn what to communicate and to who, and get a sense of how the group operates overall.
To keep the connection to team and company culture, make sure to schedule lots of face time with your remote engineers. It's not enough to simply communicate about projects, tasks, and goals — it's important to keep the human side of work at the forefront, so remote workers don't feel isolated or abandoned. Maintain the fabric of your team culture remotely, and you'll be ready for a smoother transition if/when you transition to in person work again.
Pro tip: In our experience, the easiest way to stay connected to remote team members is through an accessible messaging app like Slack. We use Slack so much for our work that we've developed an intelligent Slackbot called Eddy that can make onboarding a breeze.