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Top Tips for Building Successful Remote Engineering Teams

Factored Data Experts
Factored Data Experts

As we’ve talked about previously, it’s becoming increasingly unnecessary—not to mention difficult and expensive—to hire local engineers.

Think about it this way: If it takes the average company five to six months to fill a data science role—with some positions remaining unfilled for over a year—how much faster do you think that role could be filled if it was remote instead of in-person?

Before diving into the nitty gritty of how to build and maintain a remote engineering team, let’s first look at why having one in the first place is so beneficial.

Why Remote Engineering Teams are Beneficial

Building remote engineering teams is increasingly becoming the norm; it’s not something engineering leaders should shy away from; in fact, these remote teams are becoming a need-to-have rather than just a nice-to-have.

Why? Because they offer a host of benefits when it comes to reducing costs and delays,  and increasing productivity and retention.

Reduce Costs & Delays

Building a remote team can significantly reduce costs and delays when it comes to building a highly qualified engineering team. Like we mentioned, instead of having a slew of open positions for months while you search for the perfect candidate to fill that in-person role, why not consider, search for, and accept remote applicants? This can mean cutting that time—and costs spent searching for someone AND leaving that position vacant—in half, if not more.
You can also cut costs on things like office space, furniture, and building utilities as you reduce physical office space and go more—or fully—remote. Incredibly talented engineering talent from LATAM can also provide the same level of work excellence more cost-effectively.

Increase Productivity

Goodbye long commutes, hello more productive working hours! If the average engineer has to spend around three hours daily getting to and from their office, that’s up to 720 hours a year of what could be productive work building products, valuable IP, and solving business problems lost while they sit in traffic.

In general, remote employees are more productive—with 90% of respondents in a study by Owl Labs stating they were as productive, if not more, working remotely when compared to the office. Engineers were also more productive working from home, and even more so when working with teams operating in a similar time zone—something we here at Factored have personally found to be true.

Boost Retention

Happy employees stay put. Focusing on retention has always been a hot-button issue when it comes to engineering teams, as there’s always the threat of FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) companies coming in to poach your qualified engineering talent. Today, retention is only becoming increasingly important with the dawn of the Great Resignation.

Thankfully, creating remote teams can help keep employees happy, as long as you’re mindful about time zones, help engineers create an appropriate at-home infrastructure, and keep lines of communication open. Also, make sure to offer remote-specific benefits to these employees, as less than half of employers do—potentially putting you at a great advantage (more on this later).

How to Get Started

Now that you know some of the benefits of creating remote engineering teams, here are some tips on how to go about building and managing a successful one.

Building a Remote Engineering Team

Yes, building remote teams without hindering the productivity or technical prowess of the team itself is possible. Here are some top tips to get your remote engineering team off the ground.

1. Assess Team Needs

Before setting out on your hiring journey, assess what exact needs you need to fill. How many engineers do you require for your organization’s current needs? If you require multiple engineers, will you need someone to manage them? Who would be best for that role? What will project management and flow look like as you collaborate with one another?

2. Outline Required Skills

What skills are you looking for in an engineer? Be sure that you’re as detailed as possible when it comes to requirements for technical and communication skills, experience, organization, team integrations, and more. List exactly what the engineer(s) will be responsible for and what expectations you have of them.

3. Set Goals

Setting goals—and expectations—from the get-go is important for any position, but can be especially effective for engineers. Start by establishing goals for the feature, product, library, or module your new team members will be responsible for; this not only allows them to know what they’re working towards, but also gives you the ability to establish their individual levels of expertise. From there, you can begin to structure the team more effectively.

Managing a Remote Engineering Team

Now that you’ve built your team, how do you manage it—measuring and ensuring productivity without micromanaging and hindering your engineers’ freedom?

1. Prioritize Effective Communication

Ensure you’re communicative and transparent. Be available on a regular basis, plan regular meetings—both with individual engineers and as a team—explain why decisions are made, and make sure the environment is collaborative. People should be comfortable voicing their opinions and encouraged to engage with one another. This helps foster engagement, maintain motivation, and cultivate company culture—even remotely.

2. Offer Perks

As we noted earlier in the article, less than half of employers offer remote-specific benefits to their employees—which means if you do, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition. Specific benefits for remote engineers can include:

  • Home office stipends
  • Internet allowances
  • Mental health services
  • Tech and productivity tools

In short, treat your remote engineers as you would any other remote or in-house employee, but make sure you provide remote-specific benefits when and where you can.

3. Be Agile

Utilizing an agile methodology can be beneficial for both engineers and the company at large. That’s because most engineers have experience developing in an agile environment, and it provides companies with continual visibility into weekly to-dos as well as monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. The clear communication of KPIs also allows team leaders and management to check individual completion rates and commend or follow up as needed.

The Last Word

Searching for, vetting, testing, recruiting, managing, and retaining expert engineers and analysts is a hefty process—but partnering with Factored can significantly ease the burden. Remote engineering teams are here to stay, and we’re here to help.

To start building your remote engineering team—either from scratch or enhancing what you already have—book a call with Factored today.

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