Home » Thriving Remotely: Enhancing Productivity and Communication in Software Development Teams

Thriving Remotely: Enhancing Productivity and Communication in Software Development Teams

by Dragos Ruse
14 minutes read

HyperSense has enhanced productivity and communication during the last years and working remotely has proved to be not only a challenge but also a great stimulation for our software development team to thrive. In this article, you will discover everything you need to know about remote work and its impact on employees’ motivation, the environment, and more.

Common Remote Work Challenges

First, managers must grasp the reasons that can make remote work especially difficult. When otherwise high-performing individuals begin working remotely, their job performance and engagement may suffer, especially in the absence of preparation & training. The following are some of the difficulties associated with remote work:

Absence of in-person supervision: When there isn’t much face-to-face engagement, both supervisors and their staff frequently voice their complaints. Although data suggests the contrary, at least for some sorts of occupations, managers worry that workers won’t work as hard or as efficiently. On the other side, many workers suffer from the lack of communication and assistance from management. Some workers believe that remote bosses are out of touch with their requirements and are therefore unsupportive and unhelpful in helping them complete their work.

Lack of information access: Newly remote employees are frequently taken aback by the increased time and effort required to get information from colleagues. For a professional who works from home, even getting answers to seemingly straightforward inquiries might feel like a significant challenge.

This phenomenon goes beyond simply task-related work to include potential interpersonal issues among remote coworkers. According to research, remote workers are less likely to extend the benefit of the doubt to their coworkers when things are challenging because they lack the “mutual knowledge” that in-person employees have. For instance, if you are aware of your coworker’s difficult day, you will perceive their acerbic email as a natural outcome of their stress. However, if a remote coworker sends you this email without explaining their current situation, you are more likely to take offense or, at the least, to question their professionalism.

Social exclusion: Employees who work remotely frequently express loneliness as a drawback because they lack the casual social interaction that comes with working in an office environment. Extraverts are believed to experience isolation more acutely in the short term, especially if they are working remotely and have limited opportunity to socialize. Isolation can, however, make any employee feel less “belonging” to their organization over a longer length of time and even raise the desire to leave the organization.

Home distractions: We frequently see images of remote work that show a parent holding a child while typing on a laptop, frequently while seated on a sofa or living room floor. In actuality, this is a poor example of efficient virtual work. Usually, before allowing employees to work remotely, we advise businesses to make sure they have a designated workspace and suitable child care. However, there is a far higher likelihood that workers will have to deal with less-than-ideal workspaces and (in the event of school and daycare closures) unanticipated parenting duties if there is a fast shift to virtual employment. Even in normal conditions, demands from family and the house can interfere with remote work; managers should anticipate that these distractions would be more pronounced during this unforeseen shift to work from home.

Remote Work Has Become a Common Thing

Remote work regulations are also being adopted by an increasing number of businesses. According to research, remote work has increased most in the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors, then in the manufacturing, retail, and transportation sectors.

The trend of working remotely will increase, and organizations that can’t support it will become atypical, therefore managers & leaders ought to be mindful of this. These cultures might eventually find it difficult to maintain the interest of their internal staff members.

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Flexible Jobs Motivate Remote Workers, Which Enhances Performance

Engagement is a strategy for greater company outcomes, not a means of trying to make employees happy. While it is true that motivated workers are more passionate, energizing, and upbeat, are more satisfied with their jobs and workplaces, and are in better physical health, engagement isn’t a benefit that leaders can hand out; rather, it is a tool for them to raise KPIs. Employee engagement boosts performance:  Highly engaged businesses report 40% fewer quality errors, 41% lower absenteeism, and 21% greater profits.

Researchers found that when workers alternate between working remotely and on-site with their colleagues, engagement increases. Weekly face time with coworkers and managers appears to have an impact on engagement; the best increase in engagement is seen when employees work off-site for 60% to 80% of the time or 3-4 days in a workweek. It’s important to note that, five years prior, employees who worked remotely under 20% of the time saw the greatest increases in engagement.

The majority of all employees—those who work remotely between 60 and 80 percent of the time—strongly believe that their engagement demands in terms of growth and connections are being addressed. They are also the most expected of all employees, somewhat paradoxically, to strongly concur that someone at work appreciates them as a person, supports their growth, and has spoken to them regarding their progress. Additionally, these individuals are the most likely of all workers to believe that they’ve got a best friend at work as well as opportunities to study and advance.

These findings should comfort managers that workers who spend time away from the office won’t see a decline in engagement and that performance will improve as a result. Numerous studies show that remote employees are just as productive as employees who work on-site. Off-site workers probably give executives the biggest improvements in corporate outcomes due to the greater efficiency of remote work and better engagement.

Impact of Remote Work on the Environment

Any CSR program that focuses on the environment should consider how remote work affects the environment. Remote employment may also meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. However, the factors are quite intricate. A company may take into account matters like solid waste disposal — people use significantly more paper at work than at home — reduced energy consumption (on-site personnel consumes double the amount of electricity than remote employees) and even the impact of maintenance products on air pollution.

Recruiting, Retaining, and the Value of Flexible Work Schedules

According to researchers, the workplace is evolving, and businesses that fail to adapt to their workers’ demands will struggle to compete in the labor market. The staff they do have will be difficult to retain because they leave frequently. According to studies, 51% of workers are actively seeking new employment or are interested in doing so. Similarly, 51% said they would change jobs if the position offered flexible hours.

These figures reflect the shifting needs of the workforce. According to studies, the most brilliant but disengaged employees are the most prone to quit. Researchers believe this is because they have high standards for their workplace and a wide range of other employment options.

Better work-life balance & personal well-being are highly significant to 53% of employees when deciding whether to accept a new position.

The importance of flexible policies in the workplace should be understood by leaders who wish to draw in and keep talent of all ages.

All workers have requirements for the employment they accept and stay, of course, but 54% of employees say they would change jobs and had the option to work remotely or not. Companies that provide that option will be at the peak of job applicants’ lists and will encourage the best employees to stay.

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How to Support Remote Workers as a Manager

Although managing remote workers might be difficult, there are several simple and affordable things managers can take to make the transition easier. There are several actions you can take right now:

Set up regular daily check-ins: A daily call with their remote personnel is something that many effective remote managers arrange.  If your staff work more independently from one another or if their work is very collaborative, this could take the shape of a series of one-on-one calls. The fact that the calls are routine and expected and that they serve as a forum where employees know they may confer with you and that you would listen to their concerns and questions are key features.

Offer a variety of communication technology choices: Email by itself is inadequate. A “richer” technology, like video conferencing, which provides participants with many of the visual signals they would have if they were face-to-face, is advantageous for remote workers. There are several benefits to video conferencing, especially for smaller groups: Increased “mutual knowledge” about coworkers is made possible by visual clues, which also lessens the feeling of isolation among teams. Additionally, since it feels more intimate than written or audio-only communication, video is particularly helpful for topics that are sensitive or complex.

There are additional situations where a speedy team effort takes precedence over visual accuracy. Offer mobile-enabled individual messaging tools for certain circumstances (e.g., Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.), which can be utilized for time-sensitive communication as well as simpler, less formal talks.

If your business doesn’t currently have technological tools in place, there are cheap ways to get basic versions of these products for your staff as a temporary solution.  Before using any of these technologies, check with the IT department of your company to be sure the necessary level of data protection is in place.

Afterward, decide on “rules of engagement”: When managers establish expectations for the frequency, modes, and ideal synchronization of communication for their employees, remote work becomes more effective and rewarding. As in “We use videoconferencing for daily check-in meetings, but we use IM when something is urgent.” Additionally, if you can, let your staff know how and when to contact you during the workday (for example, “I tend to be more available later in the day for ad hoc video or phone conversations, but if there is an emergency earlier in the day, send me a text”). Finally, monitor team members’ communication (to what degree is appropriate) to make sure they are exchanging information as required.

The initial online check-in meeting is the appropriate time for managers to introduce these “rules of engagement” to staff members. The most crucial aspect is that all employees have the same expectations for communication, even though certain decisions on particular expectations may be better than others.

Offer chances for online social engagement: Creating opportunities for employees to interact socially (i.e., have casual chats about subjects unrelated to business) while working remotely is one of the most crucial actions a manager can do. This holds true for all remote employees, but it is especially true for those who have recently left the office.

Leaving some time at the starting point of team conversations purely for non-work-related matters (e.g., “We’re going to dedicate the first few minutes simply catching up with each other”) is the simplest method to develop some fundamental social connection. How did your weekend go?”). Other options involve virtual pizza parties when pizza is served to the entire company during a videoconference, or virtual office parties, where party “care packages” can be sent in advance and unwrapped at the same time. Virtual events, according to seasoned managers of remote workers (as well as the employees themselves), are said to help lessen feelings of loneliness and promote a sense of belonging.

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Encourage others and provide emotional support: It is crucial for managers to recognize stress, pay attention to employees’ worries and anxieties, and show empathy for their challenges, especially in circumstances of a sudden switch to remote work. Ask the newly remote employee how they are doing if they are obviously having trouble but are not expressing any tension or anxiety. Any question, even a general one like, “How is this remote work scenario working out for you so far?” can elicit crucial information that you wouldn’t normally hear. After you’ve asked the question, be sure to pay close attention to the employee’s response and quickly repeat what you heard back to them to be sure you understood it correctly. Instead of focusing on your own problems or worries, let the employee’s stress or anxieties take center stage.

According to studies on emotional intelligence & emotional contagion, employees look to their managers for guidance on how to respond in times of crisis or rapid change. Employees will experience a “trickle-down” effect if a manager conveys anxiety and powerlessness. Effective leaders adopt a two-pronged strategy, recognizing the stress and anxiety that workers may experience in challenging situations while also expressing their confidence in their teams by using phrases like “we’ve got this,” “this is tough, but I know we can handle it,” or “let’s look for methods to use our strengths during this time.” Employees are more inclined to accept the assignment with a sense of focus & purpose if they receive this assistance.

At HyperSense, our global multi-industry software development company, we value our employees’ needs and wants, and we offer them the flexibility to do and be who they want to be. The pandemic surely changed the way we work and working remotely has become the new comfortable workplace for most of us. We still like interacting with our colleagues in person and working together as a team, so we meet at the office occasionally to catch up with each other and socialize a bit more after the work is done, by celebrating or playing together.

If you are a software developer and you would like to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we can find a way of working together, don’t be shy and reach us. We help global brands achieve digital transformation and we couldn’t do this without our team. So if you want to be part of our team, contact us today.

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