This is hardly surprising; remote work brings many benefits, including no commute and a more comfortable workspace.
However, working from home comes with its challenges, and sometimes the simple solution of walking over to someone’s desk is sorely missed.
With that in mind, this article will advise you on providing your developers with the best possible working environment and, ultimately, increasing their productivity.
Table of Contents
1. Move Your Culture Online
When companies have a healthy culture, developers work together well; they have a good understanding of their co-workers’ skills and capacities.
Bug and crash reporting tool for your mobile app.
When delegating tasks, explain to the team how that project fits into the company’s big-picture goals.
This message confirms that you’re online, even though you’re not available yet. Sending such messages is vital for remote work, as John Watkins advises:
By upholding full transparency, your employees will never doubt that you’re shirking off work or neglecting them, therefore increasing their own productivity.
In online culture, you’d also do well to promote fair, collaborative sharing; your developers should have equal access to shared resources.
The queue can be used for almost anything: sharing single-account tools, server access, and even choosing meeting leaders. Here’s an example:
Although this example doesn’t apply to remote teams, the same principle applies. With Queue, each team member gets a turn to use the company’s resources.
2. Encourage Virtual Pair Programming
However, pair programming is usually performed at one desk – one developer codes while the other reviews.
The lack of a physical space obviously hinders traditional pair programming, and your developers might not even think remote pair programming is possible.
The tool lets your team share their code and then collaborate on it in real-time, making it easy to edit and debug projects.
Developers can communicate via audio or chat, and there are no limitations; you can use it regardless of the programming language, editor versions, and type of application being built.
The video below explains in detail exactly how the feature works:
For starters, each developer can work within their editor preferences and track the other’s work from their own terminal.
Given these features, it’s not far-fetched to imagine even on-site teams utilizing this tool.
This Reddit user pointed out another, perhaps less-obvious advantage virtual pair programming has:
Two brains working together are bound to be more productive than one, especially for silly problems such as typos.
Virtual pair programming can also positively impact your employees’ mental health and increase productivity that way.
Constantly working remotely can be isolating, and pair programming helps with loneliness.
When two (or more) developers collaborate towards a shared goal, that encourages the community feeling that sometimes gets lost in working from home.
Virtual pair programming is sure to keep your remote developers’ spirits high, and it’s no secret that happy programmers are productive programmers
3. Make Sure Employees Understand Their Tasks
Working from home can sometimes be difficult, communication-wise. If your developers haven’t understood something, they can’t knock on your door or walk over to their co-workers.
The developer might have to reach out later and interrupt their workflow with too little information. This is hugely detrimental, as research has proven:
To minimize those interruptions, explain everything clearly to your developers from the beginning.
By hosting a face-to-face debrief, you’ll be able to elaborate at length, and your developers will be able to ask questions right away.
If you use e-mails for task distribution, it will likely be a much longer process. There’s a high chance your developers might not understand something and will reply with some concerns.
Given the time lost inside the inbox, constant back-and-forth e-mails should be avoided when possible. Instead, host a meeting – it should be much more effective.
As a manager, you can clearly see how every small task completed is another step towards the company’s ultimate goal, but your developers might not have that vast field of vision.
Once your developers know how their work fits into the company’s long-term goals and big picture vision, their productivity should increase; they’ve realized that their efforts make a difference.
4. Automate as Much of the Development Lifecycle as Possible
If something can be done automatically, why would you do it manually? Your developers likely have repetitive tasks they do all the time, such as command lines, log mining, and deploying.
Think about automating these processes. Besides saving your employees’ time, automation will abolish collaboration bottlenecks and accelerate code distribution.
Furthermore, it’s easily modified to keep up with different devices, browsers, and operating systems.
However, the most significant benefit of automatic testing is that your developers don’t have to do it. Take a look at the graph below:
If nothing else, consider automating regression testing – your developers will thank you for it and eagerly turn to other tasks.
These can then be incorporated into CI pipelines as automated tests for every build.
Jenkins will also give you an overview of trends. The tool tracks results and displays them as a trend graph:
This instantly generates a bug report, which is then forwarded to the dashboard:
This easy, streamlined workflow will significantly improve your standard bug reporting procedure, as all bugs and crashes are located in one central area.
5. Have Abundant Documentation for Internal Processes
Documentation is highly convenient for remote developers.
Instead of waiting for a reply on Slack, developers can glance at the documentation and immediately find the information they need.
The people have spoken – if developers want good documentation, provide your team members with the best documentation. They’ll be guaranteed to be much more productive.
It would be a huge help to have detailed, written instructions about the exact steps when handling tickets. For example, the below flowchart would have been beneficial:
Remote developers will significantly benefit from such directions, as they’ll have a constant point of reference to fall back on.
More broadly, it’s also helpful to explain people-based internal processes.
An online document detailing how to ask for time off and when their colleagues have taken time off would, paradoxically, improve your developers’ productivity.
This documentation will likely improve developers’ productivity, as they have clear insight into the promotion process.
It’s comforting to know that their employer is operating fairly and, that they have set processes in place; that there are no arbitrary decisions.
Who wouldn’t feel attached to a company like that?
6. Use Collaboration Tools Designed for Remote Teams
Why not take advantage of these tools for your developers?
Employees strongly believe that tools would facilitate open cooperation. So, what kind of tools would do the job?
Here’s an example of an asynchronous knowledge transfer:
By combining multiple tools into the Slack workflow, your developers will spend less time on iterative tasks; routine processes will be automated instead.
This automatically frees up more time for them to focus on high-priority tasks.
Furthermore, the endless integrations mean that your team members will rarely have to switch apps.
Instead, they’ll be able to video call, collaborate on files, manage calendars, and more while staying in Slack.
There’s an example below:
With this organizational framework, your developers can see the different work stages; what’s done, what needs to be done, and what’s being done.
They’ll also know who is responsible for which task, ensuring complete transparency.
These boards are fantastic tools for visualizing workflows; your remote team will know all the organizational particulars of your project at a glance.
With remote work being so highly-preferred among developers, it’s essential that you learn to incorporate certain tactics into your working model.
For starters, promote your company culture as much as possible online, and ensure that your employees always clearly understand the tasks asked of them.
You can facilitate this by having abundant documentation so that employees always have a reference point to refer to.
Consider introducing virtual pair programming as well for direct employee collaboration.
Finally, utilize tools – strive to automate the development lifecycle and incorporate collaboration solutions.
With these tactics, your remote developers’ productivity is sure to skyrocket.