Cooperation with a Remote Team: Recipe for Success?

Cooperation with a remote team from the other side of the world might seem hard. But everything is possible with some preparation around a work routine. Why we believe it’s achievable? Because we’ve been working successfully with many companies from USA or UK for years. Some our clients shared their reviews in Clutch, mentioning our extraordinary skills in remote cooperation. Would you like to know our recipe for success?

Timezones

Our clients are based in different countries – USA, UK, Netherlands… This means coping with timezones. One hour time difference between Poland and UK is not an issue at all. What can be tricky is the difference between Central European Time and Pacific Time. 8-9 hours might seem like an insurmountable obstacle! At Sunscrapers we’ve successfully managed all difficulties. We have a semi-flexible working hours policy and our team members have an autonomy on their work hours. This means that catching up with a client from the West Coast is easy as a pie. 9AM in Pacific Time means 6PM in Poland. Someone from Poland can sleep a little bit longer and start their work later, which is an excellent solution for night owls!

Process

Proper planning is the most important thing at the beginning of cooperation. We determine a procedure that fits both us and client. Usually, every two weeks we have a sprint planning meeting, where highest priority features are discussed and further plans are made. In most cases, we incorporate daily scrums in our routine, especially if close cooperation is needed. Daily scrums are everyday meetings, where each team member tells more about yesterday’s tasks and tasks for that day. They are particularly important in a dedicated team model, which we discuss more in our previous post: Working Models in Software Development.

What makes our regular meetings better are… videoconferences. During a videoconference we can see our facial expressions and body language. It leads to easier, faster and more productive cooperation. Not to mention that all team members feel more connected to the project and each other.

Sometimes we meet face-to-face with our clients – in our or client’s offices. It’s not essential for project’s success, but it’s definitely a nice addition that can improve our cooperation.

Tools

Beside regular meetings and videoconferences, adequate tools are also really important in a cooperation with a remote team. Project management tools give us the possibility to be up to date with a current work status. Trello, Pivotal Tracker and Jira are examples of project management tools. At Sunscrapers, we always make sure to update our work status as soon as possible. Thanks to that everything is transparent and our communication with a client is easier and simpler.

Other useful tools for fast information exchange are instant messengers. We chose to use Slack for in-house communication and remote cooperation. Slack is a really helpful app, which allows us to answer all urgent questions immediately. We always create a channel dedicated for the the whole project team (including our clients). That’s why, regardless of distance, all members are able to participate in an instant communication if there is a need to.

Emails are complementing project management tools and instant messengers. They are usually used to send longer reports, meetings summaries or research information.

All those tools are relevant to build efficient and productive communication without barriers. We are trying our best to react as quickly as possible. It’s important especially in the beginning, when we are building trust based cooperation with our client.

Discipline & Personal Development

Some developers, despite their dedication to work, can’t maintain a discipline. Our established processes and tools are not enough for them to work productively with a remote team. That’s why we took some lessons from our past experience.

We pay bigger attention to recruitment processes. We check if our candidates have any previous experience with remote cooperation. Motivation for remote work preference and communication skills have big influence on our decisions. Not to mention that proficient knowledge of English is a must.

What is also a good indicator of employee’s attitude is the trial period. We look closely at our cooperation with new developers to see if they are able to work remotely. This is the reason why we prefer our junior developers to work from our Warsaw office until they are promoted to regular positions. They can also get help from more experienced colleagues.

At Sunscrapers we emphasize the importance of personal development. Our team members have many possibilities of improving their communication skills. They can take part in trainings and presentations, where we share our experience in remote cooperation. Everyone can learn how to effectively communicate, which makes work easier.

 

This is our simple recipe for a remote cooperation. Distance is not an obstacle, especially when we take all possible measures to minimise potential drawbacks. We are successfully handling all our projects, even though we are not working in client’s offices. If you would like to see some examples, check out our case studies or contact us!

Paulina Czajkowska Paulina Czajkowska

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