Due to circumstances, we are all working from home today. It is no different in the case of developers. However, this new way of working poses many challenges in terms of productivity and keeping people motivated. Here are four things you should definitely avoid.
Under-investing in learning and development
Covid has put pressure on training and development programs. Obviously, this has a negative impact on the productivity of remote developers. The question is, of course, how to avoid this.
Andy Lancaster, head of learning at CIPD, told People Management that learning departments need to be agile to reflect the fact that the need for running courses has been eclipsed by “supporting performance and productivity.” Andy Lancaster: “Learning needs to be really close to the heartbeat of the business to understand what’s needed, which is a flexible, agile approach to provide ‘just in time’ solutions, not waiting weeks for courses.”
Given the higher level of adaptability of the remote jobs market, it’s worth companies adopting a more ‘learner led approach’ where people work to adapt a program to fit what the learners are aiming to achieve in their specific contexts.
While IT is particularly resourceful when it comes to learning and development, with it being relatively easy to create dummy accounts on platforms and tools used by your business, it’s worth remembering that one size fits all approaches don’t have to be the norm anymore.
Employers and managers can collaborate to make bespoke programs for their new remote staff, and even adapt the learning tools they send based on whether they’re more visual or aural learners.
Overload remote developers with meetings
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making the transition to remote work comes in the form of upholding effective performance management.
Ensuring workers stay productive when they’re not visible to employers has posed new challenges for businesses that haven’t previously introduced WFH options for staff. While some managers who still believe having visibility of employees is enough to ensure they’re on track to hit their targets, other experts suggest that this isn’t necessarily the best way of keeping workers in check.
Brian Kropp, Chief of Human Resources, Gartner: “There’s a significant number who are tracking and measuring [their team] by holding meetings. But the reality is that those meetings are stopping them from doing work.”
However, there is a case to be made against other employers who may be heading in the opposite direction, too. Instead of distracting workers by checking up on their work too frequently, there’s a danger that managers aren’t engaging with their direct reports enough – whether it’s before the start of a new project, a general lack of support, or refusing to engage in feedback.
Stuart Hearn, CEO of ClearReview, suggests that businesses are best positioned to adapt to this significant change in performance management by ensuring that you make yourself available to support your workers and recognize their achievements in meeting deadlines or completing large projects.
Not setting clear objectives
Digital tools make it easy for managers to set milestones and goals for their remote employees to achieve over a short-term basis.
Productivity tools like Monday offer excellent overviews for managers to keep track of their team’s performance in meeting deadlines and achieving their goals each day, week, or month. Along with a traffic light color system to help users to keep track of work outstanding, the platform utilizes Gantt chart software to provide a comprehensive view of team performance.
Performance management systems like Monday are extremely useful for remote employers. While paper-based or spreadsheet-based systems can be functional in tracking performance inside an office, remote objective setting and KPI measurements generally require an online system.
Setting objectives is a significant part of performance management for any employee, and those working remotely will generally need clearer objectives than employees whose expectations and workloads can be managed in person.
Goal-setting and clear objectives are linked to better levels of engagement, morale and productivity. With the loss of typical office working structures, remote workers can benefit massively from the structure brought about by these tools.
Providing too little or no support
Despite the future of collaboration occurring completely remotely, the onus will be on companies to provide greater support for their employees, both as a means of fostering more productivity and as a way of offering psychological comfort against working in isolation.
While it’s certainly important to set up regular meetings and team building activities between your remote employees and their colleagues, it’s also vital to utilize these conferencing calls as an opportunity to look out for signs of worker distress.
Remote employees can feel extremely isolated from the outside world, and this can cause feelings of loneliness and anxiety. To help combat this, it’s important to set up a comfortable avenue for dialogue between yourself and your workers.
Be sure to make your objectives clear for your employees and always acknowledge their work.
Brian Kopp, vice president, research, Gartner: “During periods of disruption, employees’ desire for being recognized for their contribution increases by about 30%.”
The question remains of how to support remote developers properly.
Employers can better support their employees by setting up internal knowledge libraries for employees to connect to. This can be achieved through a company intranet portal or through password protected content. Additionally, it’s worth publishing documentation regarding house styles and codes of practice so that remote workers can approach group projects with a healthy level of consistency.
It’s also worth creating FAQs for staff to access and learn during their onboarding process. Having an FAQ section relevant to certain job roles and processes online means that your IT professionals won’t be left twiddling their thumbs at a sticking point in their work.
Additionally, you’ll need to communicate to your workers that project managers or other senior members of staff will always be on-hand to discuss issues through a standardized communication system.