How to effectively communicate with your remote software development team
Are you having trouble communicating with your remote development team and looking for answers?
Are you new to working remote and used to synchronous and not asynchronous work?
As remote work becomes more commonplace, you must communicate effectively with your team asynchronously. Mayven Studios has been remote first for 10+ years.
Here we will talk about how to communicate successfully with your remote development team and the benefits of working async. Read more to learn how we work at Mayven Studios, a fully remote team of over 70 designers and engineers.
Establish Clear Communication channels.
First, setting expectations is a must. When you work remotely, you need to have clear, written instructions on how and when people are expected to be available, what tools to use, how to monitor output and success. Without clear parameters and no one to look over people’s shoulders, you will more than likely fail at working remotely.
Working remotely does not have to cut you off from your team. You can utilize various communication channels to ensure everyone stays on the same page, such as email, chat, and video conferencing software. As we saw during the pandemic, much of our digital work — especially design and development — can be done remotely with collaborative tools, video calls, and more.
Communicating effectively with your team also requires you to set clear expectations. Are you going to work sync or async? Do you care when people are online? How do you fairly coordinate timezones and meeting times so that someone is not always having a meeting at 2 am? All of these questions should be asked and answered by the management team when you bring on a new employee. You should tell them how often you’ll drop in or expect to hear from them. This will eliminate misunderstandings and missed deadlines.
Encourage open and honest communication.
Honesty and transparency are the key to good communication. You should encourage team members to communicate their needs effectively, so you can address concerns quickly.
At Mayven Studios, we have a big focus on being able to clearly communicate async, in written form, in English. This is primarily through email, slack, and our project management tool, Buildstack.
If you don’t set expectations correctly, new team members won’t have a good idea of how the team functions and may feel they are left in the dark since they haven’t worked with anyone before.
Use project management tools.
Be sure to leverage the tools available! Project management tools, such as Trello or Asana, or Buildstack, are the backbone of any remote operation, as they ensure that everyone understands what you are working toward. With these tools you can assign tasks to specific team members and everyone knows what and when they should be working on things. Sometimes this will take some time to get into a flow, but if you set expectations up front then you will be set up for success.
Schedule regular check-ins.
Even if most of your work is async, it’s important to have check ins live so that team members feel connected and have an opportunity to speak live about pressing issues or blockers. Regularly checking in with your team is instrumental in ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction. Depending on your leadership style, you could host daily stand-up meetings or weekly progress meetings. This can be done async as well, with written updates, but we tend to prefer at least weekly or bi-weekly live meetings with the team to build trust and camaraderie.
Document Decisions and Discussions.
Writing things down is a core component of working remotely successfully. Documenting important decisions, discussions, and outcomes can also help keep your team on track, especially when they can refer back to these documents.
Prioritize face-to-face interactions.
There’s no substitute for face-to-face interactions. In fact, studies have found that they can improve employee relationships by fostering a sense of trust. Through video calls and virtual team-building exercises, you can ensure that face-to-face interactions remain commonplace. At Mayven Studios we aim to get together in person with all or part of the team at least once per year.
Use visual aids.
Visual aids, like slides, diagrams, or wireframes, can make it easier to clarify complex concepts, meaning your business will not suffer when going remote.
Foster a positive and inclusive work culture.
Communication is best within companies with a positive, inclusive culture. You should create a space where every team member feels valued, supported, and heard.
Technology, such as virtual whiteboards, real-time collaboration tools, and screen-sharing software, can help to generate effective conversations throughout your workplace. Don’t get bogged down by SaaS fatigue, but also don’t be afraid to try new tools, like Figma, ChatGPT or Midjourney!