Did you know that over 50 percent of companies in the U.S. have remote workers who operate from an offshore distributed team? According to a study by Upwork, a large majority of companies has distributed teams, but they also lack a proper policy. This can lead to inefficiencies and reduced productivity, and a general inability to leverage the benefits that a distributed team can offer.
The Benefits and Challenges of Hiring a Distributed Team
Most development teams comprise engineers who work on software and critical aspects of an organization’s digital identity. While each department in an organization is important, managing a development team comes with its own complications; so, when you add ‘distributed’ to the mix, it becomes much harder to systemize.
The challenges ❓
Oftentimes, companies have all the recourses to handle distributed operations, but lack proper policies to support such a development team. Upwork’s study shows that while the majority of companies relying on distributed teams were ‘confident’ in how they were handling operations when asked about their policies, they said they didn’t have fixed policies. So, if you think you can handle it without a systematic approach, you’re wrong.
The benefits ✔️
Even though the traditional approach of keeping all teams in-house is highly advantageous, why opt for the distributed model? As it turns out, it has benefits of its own, like reduced costs, greater access to talented individuals across borders, and a flexible and longer workday.
Should You Build Your Own Team With Freelancers or Hire a Prepared Team?
So you’re convinced that a distributed development team is your best bet, but should you build your own or hire a team that’s already well-attuned. Building your own team by hiring freelancers is an option, but it’ll require a lot of checking proposals, interviewing and recruiting work.
(Image Source: Upwork)
Not to mention, you don’t want to take the risk of building a team of developers who can’t get along. On the other hand, hiring a well-attuned team of developers who have worked together on projects and know each other is a better idea because it reduces the number of resources you’re putting into the process.
Best Places to Hire a Development Team
Whichever way you’ve chosen to pick a distributed development team; here are your outlets
For lower budgets - Upwork and Freelancer.com
(Image Source: Upwork)
Upwork and Freelancer.com are the world’s largest freelancing websites where you can easily find developers without investing too many resources, making it ideal for low budget companies and projects.
(Image Source: Freelancer.com)
However, the downside is that you will have to assess each candidate and have them work as a team, which takes a lot of time.
Customization for higher budgets - Stack Overflow and We Work Remotely
(Image Source. Stack Overflow)
If you have the budget for it, these two sites are where you’ll find plenty of qualified developers for a high-end project. The downside is that there’s no guarantee that these quailed professionals can work as part of your distributed team.
(Image Source: We Work Remotely)
You can run a pilot test to know whether they have what it takes to work with other candidates you select, but you’ll need a long list to shortlist from.
The all-rounder solution - Lectron
By all-rounder solution, we mean that you can rely on Lectron to provide you with a well-attuned and prepared team that already has seamless coordination and possess immaculate communication skills. But there’s no one-size fits-all standard because Lectron finds the right team (incl. a suitable product manager) for your project, based on what it needs.
How to Evaluate a Distributed Development Team
Assessing and evaluating developers and your dream team can be tough. Here are some general factors you should keep in mind and questions you can ask yourself.
Are they flexible enough?
When it comes to in-house developers, their personal life and activities besides work are rarely a point of concern as long as they come on time and deliver the desired results. However, this doesn’t apply to a distributed team, because what they do outside of ‘working hours’ can influence their daily productivity.
Make sure to thoroughly learn about whether they can accommodate a flexible schedule. Ask them about their responsibilities at first instance; you don’t want a team member that can go AWOL during a critical project and stall things for the entire team.
Do they communicate quickly enough?
To shortlist candidates for a distributed development team, you need to evaluate their communication abilities and learn whether they stay connected consistently. Response time might be an important factors if cricitcal bugs occur during a project. Assess this by recording how long it generally takes for them to respond to emails, messages, and requests for a voice call.
Are they constantly connected?
Remember to ask them about how well they stay connected with the online world; do they have ‘offline’ times like during a workout or dinner with family. The perfect team member will be comfortable using pretty much any application to stay connected and has little ‘offline time’ as possible.
Check how well they can use tools
Because of the complicated nature of distributed development teams, it’s crucial that all members can use communication and planning tools since project transparency will positively affect your project’s success. SaaS platforms such as Asana or Trello can help manage projects in real-time, but you need to ensure that candidates have adequate knowledge about such tools and are willing to actively use them.
(Image Source: Asana)
Aside from management tools, using communicating applications, like video call and chatting messengers, is also critical.
Ask for their own critique on output
Since a distributed team isn’t subject to regular evaluation from the main hub, you need to pick focused developers who self-criticize their abilities to work efficiently and consistently increase productive output.
Ask about their set-up and equipment
Your distributed development team needs the right equipment for the job, but it isn’t as simple as it would be with an in-house team; your team members should have their own set-up with monitors and the right software installed for coding.
(Image Source: Unsplash)
How to Hire and Manage a Distributed Development Team
Hiring and managing a distributed development comes with many potential pitfalls. These best practices can help you to overcome these hurdles.
1. What You need to look for
It all starts by looking for the right people; hiring a developer for in-house operations is one thing while recruiting a distributed team is a different ball game entirely. Although you’re still looking for the same qualification and software skills, the traits are somewhat distinct.
Even if they graduated top of their class, a candidate won’t be a fit if they’re not used to working remotely or have expectations regarding a conventional 9 to 5. You’ll need to be clear while hiring, that you’re looking for someone who knows how distributed teams work and are willing to implement a similar work approach.
2. Make their responsibilities clear
A developer can’t ensure steady output if you fail to outline and define their responsibilities clearly. When you’re working with a team of developers across different countries and time zones, you need to tell them the exact deliverables they need to provide.
These will differ from one project to the next, so communicating them clearly each time is essential, and don’t leave anything to chance or consider it as a given. Considering the difference in time zones and distance, you can’t rely on your team to just ‘get things right’; give clear instructions because it saves plenty of hassle later on.
3. Keep communicating to reduce ambiguity
Recruiters know how to shrug off many candidate questions with the ol’ ‘you’ll learn on the job’ but this doesn’t apply to distributed teams. In-house or remote, a lot of resources go into hiring employees, so make sure that you communicate company policies thoroughly at the start, and answer questions with detail.
In an in-house work environment, you can always rely on the team learning skills together and teaching each other, so experience eventually makes up for any lacking.
Comparatively, you can’t depend on the occurrence that your distributed team candidates will learn on the job, so ask up-front if they know how to handle tasks and software that’s involved.
4. Carefully select way of communication
Trying to force a communication tool onto a team can have detrimental results; so, opt to choose something more convenient that everyone can use. Ask about what platform (for example email and Slack) they prefer and how they plan on seamlessly communicating with the rest of the team.
(Image Source: Slack)
5. Communicate face to face
Talking to a person can make a big difference when you’re recruiting, so you should put in the time to interview a potential team member through video calling platforms, and asking them about how they’re a good fit for the role.
This gives you a chance to understand how well they can communicate with people across a screen while maintaining professional composure. Although it helps to select a time that works for a candidate, canceling numerous opportunities for an interview is a red flag that indicates they don’t have the flexibility to work in a distributed team.
6. Tell them about the company culture and find the best fit
Think about your company’s current culture; you’re probably thinking about those weekend lunches, morning gossip near the water cooler, and how the in-house teams like celebrating each others’ birthdays.
This defines your company culture, and even though you’re building a distributed development team, you need someone whose personality matches.
It’s not objective to have a discussion about your organization’s culture with a potential candidate, but it does help to ask your current employees.
The part about managing a distributed development team comes after you hire one; so, we also helped with that. Unfortunately, hiring people across borders and time zones can make things tricky for recruiters because there’s no objective method. Hence, we highlighted how you can hire a skilled distributed development team with the same ease and convenience that you’d hire in-house employees.