Staff Augmentation

How Do You Integrate Remote Developers With In-House Teams And Keep Projects Running Forward?

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Igor Dąbrowski

The IT sector all over the world suffers from staff shortages. The scale of the problem can reach even 44%. That is why companies look for talent offshore to work remotely. Staff augmentation service is becoming more and more popular because it cuts the costs of hiring and increases the capacity of the in-house team in areas that matter the most. This way digital products can arrive on the market in record time. However, integrating a remote developer with a well-established team comes with a set of challenges. 

Staff augmentation is a great solution to temporary shortages. It allows you to hire a highly-skilled expert for a short period of time. You can read more about it here: [link do what is staff augmentation]. 

How to make sure that the remote developer becomes a part of the team and that the projects moves forward instead of falling behind?

Pay special attention to the hiring process

All of the people you’re interviewing are talented, experienced individuals, but how to make sure they’re the best fit for your project? Now’s the time to be very critical. If the portfolio is impressive, ask for code examples. It could be a good idea to provide the developer with a recruitment task to check their capabilities in a given language. If you’re hiring a developer through staff augmentation service, check out the company’s score on clutch.co and see if they have worked on a project similar to yours. If yes, ask the coordinator about the developer’s involvement. 

During the interview, pay attention to soft skills: confidence in communication, willingness to take charge, can-do attitude. Then you can be sure that you’ve found the right person for the job. 

Talk to your team

Hiring a remote developer isn’t anything new in the world of IT but it can be met with some tension from your in-house team. Does it mean they should worry about their jobs? Will the new developer undermine their authority? Is the outsider going to interfere with the code that the in-house team treats as their baby? Will they use the tech stack the rest of the team is used to? 

Think of the best strategy to break the news about the remote developer so the onboarding process goes smoothly. Your team will appreciate the information about who’s going to supervise the work of the remote developer, the scope of their work, and if there are any changes in who’s the first in command in this part of the project. 

Put effort into onboarding

Tell your remote developer about your project’s long-term goal, target audience, and discuss its current state. Innovation doesn’t happen in a bubble – if you’d like your developer to bring more than just code, they need to see the bigger picture first. 

Make sure that the introductory email has everything they could need, including access to the corporate email, invitation to the company’s chat and communities, software or tools to set up. Prepare the installation instructions if needed. Review the project requirements document to make sure you have included all functionality. Questions will definitely follow, so assign one person who will take care of the newbie. 

At BinarApps, it’s a tradition that every new employee gets a mentor and a buddy: the first one is there to help them establish their role in the organization while buddy is the go-to person for small stuff, like who to ask for access to documentation. Make sure that the people you choose to fulfill these roles are ready for them: giving extra responsibilities to the busiest people might not be the wisest decision. 

Break the ice

It goes without saying that it’s a real human being you’re adding to your team. However, a remote developer doesn’t have a presence in the office, so it can be hard for everyone to treat them like a part of the team right away. To avoid that, sprinkle some private information during the onboarding process. When you introduce the newcomer, tell what’s their position, work scope, and then add what their favorite game is, what was the last show they binged on Netflix, if they have any pets, etc. It’s a great way to break the ice and integrate new people into the team and start friendships – people who like each other work better.

Set clear expectations

It may seem obvious what do you want to get from your remote developer but remember that no one can read minds. Before they start their work, make a list of tasks they’re expected to perform, including stuff like logging their workload in Jira and participation in meetings. Too much information is way better than too little. Discuss the list with the developer to make sure you’re on the same page. 

Acknowledge past mistakes

Be open with your remote developer about what has gone wrong in the project. It’s not easy but it will prevent your team from making the same mistakes. Your developer will be able to work more efficiently if they know what has and hasn’t worked in the past. 

Plan communication

For a remote developer, it’s easy to feel overlooked or sometimes even forgotten. No one wants to feel like a spare part, so it’s essential that you include your remote developer in the daily communication of your team. Plan all the meetings ahead. Quick daily status strengthens the community while weekly meetups help recognize the state of the project. Developer’s mentor or buddy should have the time to talk to them on the daily, even if it’s just a checkup. 

Issues and rewards

Make room for honest discussions about what’s interfering with productive work. Clear project guidelines should help you avoid that but some problems are purely man-made which makes them hard to dodge. Remember to hold your remote developer to the same standard as your in-house team. At the same time, don’t hesitate to share words of encouragement and praise during daily videoconferences. Just keep in mind that the praise is meant to build up the recipients, not you. 

After the job is done…

Even if the developer worked for you only for a month, don’t hesitate to provide feedback. It’s beneficial not only to them but to your company as well. Periodical evaluation helps you find weak points in the project. Your in-house team should provide their insights as well. Ask the developer if they’d like to receive a letter of recommendation or a review on one of the professional platforms. This will create a bridge for further cooperation if you decide to work together in the future. 

Summary

Here’s a list for you to check when you hire a remote developer:

  • Research the developer’s background: previous projects, code examples, soft skills.
  • Inform your in-house team about why there’s a need for a remote developer.
  • Explain the project’s long-term goals to the remote developer. 
  • Create a comprehensive onboarding email.
  • Review the project’s documentation before passing it to the developer.
  • Provide the remote developer with a mentor and/or a buddy.
  • Make a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks the developer is expected to perform.
  • Tell your team some personal details about the developer to break the ice, i.e. which games they like, what kind of pets they have.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about failures in the project that have occurred in the past.
  • Keep a communication plan and stick to it.
  • Address the issues and praise where praise is due. 
  • When the cooperation is done, provide your personal feedback and one on behalf of the in-house team. 

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