Best Practices For Managing Remote Engineers

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Managing remote as opposed to onsite engineers comes with a set of challenges. Let's go through some of the best practices to ensure a positive and productive work environment!

Remote teams come with many advantages: access to a larger talent pool, increased diversity and inclusiveness, support for employees who prefer to work from home or need time to spend with their families. However, managing remote teams is hard work and comes with many challenges, such as difficulties in establishing smooth communication channels, discovering the remote work tooling that would suit your organization and all involved members, and building a dedicated company culture. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at how you can effectively manage a team of remote software engineers and things you should avoid.

Who Are Remote Software Engineers?

Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering principles to software development. Software engineering comprises the following disciplines: software design, construction, testing, maintenance, development, configuration management, among a few others, all revolving around the building of software. Remote team of software engineers, therefore, will consist of designers, web and app developers, testers, team leads or managers, and so forth, all working remotely.

Challenges Of Managing Remote Software Engineers

Since the biggest challenge comes primarily from a lack of control, collaboration, and communication, managers oftentimes encounter situations where developers can go incommunicado just before the delivery of a project to the customer or do not understand the deliverables or specifications of a project and develop or design something else entirely.

Also, because of the inability to interact face-to-face, it’s harder for a manager to brand themselves internally and establish authority as a leader, which further complicates communication and understanding between engineers in a team.

The hiring process comes with a set of other challenges as well: while everyone seems to be eager to start working remotely, only a handful understand what remote work is actually all about. Ensuring you hire developers with the right mindset is paramount when it comes to building a dedicated remote team. Let’s break all of the said above further and distinguish between good and bad managerial processes for remote teams.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Best & Worst Ways To Manage Remote Engineers

#1 Organizing The Hiring Process

Let’s start with getting people into your team. Ensuring you have a smooth hiring process with clear-cut and transparent recruitment procedures is key at the onset of any project.

If you can afford to outsource the hiring process to professional recruiters, then we’ll recommend doing just that. For example, Soshace, a hiring platform for web developers, offers a four-stage selection process that starts with CV screening and ends with online coding. Apart from checking technical skills, professional recruiters ensure the person is suitable for remote work, which is extremely important for the well-being of your entire team.

However, we understand that outsourcing can sometimes be off the table for various reasons including but not limited to budgeting constraints.

In this case, we’d recommend screening candidates for communication skills, positive attitude, independence, and patience. Why patience? Well, what can be easily solved by coming up to your colleague’s desk and discussing it face-to-face, can take days in a remote work environment, especially if two of those colleagues reside in different parts of the world.

Independent, self-taught, and deterministic engineers are most suitable for the remote work environment. Getting to the bottom of things, learning new stuff on the go with little or no guidance or supervision are critical skills of a remote software engineer. If you don’t want to or don’t have enough time to train your new developers to solve problems quickly, efficiently, and on their own, then it’s best to hire autonomous, cross-functional, and agile people from the start. Ensuring each member of your team can be autonomous makes the overall teams faster and more efficient. Once autonomy and independence are achieved, you can now strive for mutual understanding, cooperation, collaboration, and even cross-pollination between different departments to ensure the smooth and productive flow of ideas and healthy working relationships.

#2 Establishing Communication Channels: Remote Work Tooling

The next step would be choosing the appropriate remote work tooling: from time tracking and cloud storage to effective communication channels and team productivity.

We at Soshace have come to realize the importance of using time tracking system: first of all, our engineers are all paid by the hour, hence, time tracking is really a necessity in calculating weekly and monthly wages; second of all, tracking ensures everyone on the team is treated equally; thirdly, tracking has also shown great improvements in productivity and effectiveness of our team right from the moment we introduced such a system.

The quality of communication is key in managing remote software engineers. If you can afford physical equipment on both ends, do that for every member of your remote team. Otherwise, use Slack, Zoom, Hangouts, Skype for internal communication. It might be tempting to cut communication down to the minimum, but that’s the biggest mistake. Communicating every day and making weekly, monthly reviews is something you should strive to do.

#3 Creating Rules Of Engagement & Remote Work Rituals

Everyone on the team must be aware of a code of conduct or rules of engagement during video and audio calls to ensure the productive dialog and fruitful discussion. You must have clear procedures in place for all types of communication that happen inside your team.

Try to establish a unique positioning within your engineering team and never stop communicating what you do and why you do that: finding your own voice and demonstrating well-grounded and deserved authority creates trust, credibility, and a sense of belonging between the team members.

Creating daily morning stand-ups (including frequent one-on-ones) ensures every little detail gets communicated and, if necessary, reiterated so that everyone on the team is on the same page.

Some people argue that it’s almost impossible to create a company culture in a remote work environment. We tend to disagree because there are multiple ways you can engage with your team members. First of all, if some of your engineers live close by like in the same city, then it’s easier to organize community gatherings or after-hours parties. If getting together seems like an impossible venture, then you can think of online meetings such as book or debate clubs.


Managing remote as opposed to onsite teams comes with a set of challenges. Nevertheless, it’s not as hard as it can possibly seem. Having clear-cut procedures in place, ensuring a smooth hiring process or outsourcing recruitment to a hiring agency, finding and employing communication channels, creating inclusive and positive company culture will help you end up with a dedicated team of software engineers.



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