Managing Remote Software Development Teams

It can be tough managing and cultivating a culture on a software development team, especially when your team is remote.

Aptera Team Lead, Paul Aschliman, manages a remote team of nine developers. We recently had Paul on an episode of Aptera Live to chat about how he manages and cultivates a strong culture on a remote software development team. Watch the Aptera Live episode and then read on to learn more about managing remote software development teams.

Why and How Aptera Switched to Team Leads

Aptera recently made an organizational shift to self-selecting teams. Each team has a Team Lead, like Paul who manages a handful of developers.

“As we made that organizational shift, we were trying to go more scalable form of management,” Paul explained. “Originally, we had a myriad of developers working with one manager and we didn’t necessarily have the same connectiveness that we were desiring.”

To select teams, we first envisioned meeting in a large room so everyone could talk through struggles and ideas together. But, once COVID hit, that was no longer feasible.

Instead, we used Zoom and were able to use a feature called breakout rooms. Each Team Lead had their own room where they could chat with potential teammates.

“The discussion ended up becoming much focused in my opinion than it would have been had we all been in person,” Paul said. “Having that focus space allowed us to really unify on what our team’s vision is.”

Coordinating Communication is Essential

When someone says they’re there if you need anything, how many times have you asked them for help? Open door policies are rarely utilized, especially when teams are remote. Paul suggests creating one-on-one time with everyone on your team because individual conversations make it easy to have a mindful conversation.

During these chats, learn about your team members’ interests, skills, and weakness. When you have these conversations, it’s a lot easier to forge connections.

Get Creative in Meetings

Remote meetings come with so many more distractions including Slack, email, and even social media. Instead of having the same format for every meeting, try thinking of creative ways to engage your team in conversation.

At Aptera, we use a tools such as Miro and Team Retro. These tools mimic what we’d draw out in white boards during events like retrospectives and Sprint Reviews.

Want more tips for fostering engaged remote scrum teams? Check out this blog, 6 Tips for Fostering Engaged Remote Scrum Teams.

Other Considerations

Aptera has been hiring remote team members for years. Now that most of the company is remote, we’ll continue to hire more people across time zones. If you’re managing a dispersed team, it’s important to take that into consideration when you’re scheduling meetings.

“The solution is to allow the team to take ownership of their own schedules. Let them be the ones that dictate whenever they meet,” Paul said.

When you’re in virtual meetings, encourage your team to have their cameras on so it’s easier to connect and read the room. Eventually, life will start to return to normal and employees may start going into the office.

If part of your team starts going into the office, but others plan to stay remote, Paul suggests keeping a remote-first mentality. If one person is remote, the whole team should be on their individual computers so everyone can communicate on an even playing field.

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Saige Driver

Saige Driver

Saige is a social media coordinator for Aptera. Saige received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. Since graduating, she has been writing and learning about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.

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