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How to Successfully Integrate a Remote Developer Into Your Current Team

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26 May 2020. Remote work has been the fastest growing sector of employment for years now, even before the coronavirus encouraged reluctant employers to embrace working from home. The reasons why are simple; first and foremost as many as 90% of employees want to be able to work from home, at least part time. Flexible working is also very attractive to Millennials and Generation Z.

But it isn’t just employees who benefit. Remote workers are more productive, healthier (less sick days) and happier (improved retention), and that, together with other benefits for the company make hiring a remote developer a sensible choice. Right now, many managers are trying to juggle hybrid teams; some staff are in the office and others are at home. If that’s you, or if you’re thinking of hiring your first distributed team member, here are some tips for making them feel part of the team.

Preparation is key

At the moment, companies around the globe are trying to pull together remote work policies, communication policies, and all the processes associated with having staff who work from a different site. If circumstances have put you in that situation, it’s unavoidable, but if you’re looking to hire your first remote team member you need to get your ducks in a row first.

While some of the items on this list might seem obvious, they will all help to get your remote developer up and running sooner rather than later.

  • Get them a network login, and access to all the software they need. Make sure the networking team knows they are a remote worker, so they can specify any security measures they want in place.
  • Have a remote work policy. Communicate your expectations clearly; are staff expected to work office hours, or do you offer flexible working? How will you be measuring their performance? Are you giving them a laptop or are they using their own? Will they get a stipend for office equipment and consumables?
  • Think about communication. Successful remote teams have multiple channels for communication, and a policy to make sure messages get to the right people.
  • Consider a ‘culture drop’ to make them feel a part of the team. This might be some branded merchandise or a nice gesture like delivering donuts on their first day.
  • Have an effective onboarding process.

Onboarding remote employees

Effective onboarding is really important for a remote team. The last thing you want is your new hire sitting at home with nothing to do, and no idea who they should talk to, to change that. You need to get your new hire through the regular onboarding process, but you’ll need to use new techniques to get it done.

For example, meetings with HR can be handled via video conference, and routine training courses can be delivered online (no one watches the health & safety video anyway). If you usually have a new person shadowing an existing team member, then screen sharing is a great substitute for that.

Introductions can be trickier; while you might tour the building for a quick hello with everyone, you don’t really want to set up meetings with the entire staff just to introduce your new person. Instead, make those meetings with the people they really need to get to know, and make sure everyone else knows there’s a new kid in town via email, the newsletter, or the intranet.

Staying connected is important

If you study Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll see that belonging is one of the most fundamental things a person needs. Staff who feel a sense of belonging and ownership are the staff who perform the best; they’re more productive and less likely to leave.

While the stereotypical remote developer might be Sandra Bullock in The Net, the reality is that people who telecommute span the whole range of personality types. One trait that digital nomads have in common is that they are self sufficient, used to working out problems independently. Which is great, until it isn’t. Sometimes your best developer loses touch with the rest of the team and goes ‘lone wolf’.

While lone wolf developers tend to be very productive, they’re obviously not the best team players. When you have one person doing their own thing, it soon starts to affect team morale so make sure that you stay in touch with your pack and don’t let anyone wander off.

At least in the beginning, you might want to over-communicate with distributed team members, until you find a level that works well for you both. If you have multiple ways for your team to get hold of you, there’s really no reason that anything should go off-piste.

Remote work is the future

The global trend for remote work was already on the rise before the C-19 pandemic, and if companies like Twitter are already telling their staff they can work from home ‘forever’ then the chances are other businesses will follow suit. Now’s the time to fully embrace the world of remote work so you, and your company, are ready for the future.

Writer’s bio: Sharon Koifman believes every company, from the biggest enterprise to the newly-launched garage startup, should have access to the world’s top talent. That’s why he used over 15 years of experience in the tech industry recruitment & HR to create DistantJob, a boutique staffing agency that specializes in full-time virtual employees. 

His unique recruitment model allows DistantJob’s client to get exceptional better fitting talents at an incredible value.

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