How to Motivate A Remote Team: Zoolatech Case Study
Over the last 20 years, the IT industry has grown and matured to the point where it has become a necessity and even the norm for even a small technology enterprise to utilize a globally distributed workforce. It no longer comes as a surprise to learn that a company might have sales and marketing teams in England, business analytics in the US, and software engineering in Ukraine. Having a globally distributed workforce has several benefits:
Access to a wider talent pool. Hiring remote workers enables you to easily find people with the expertise and skillset that you need without restricting you to the candidates in your city or even your country.
Reduced cost. Sending part of the software development and testing offshore will cost 2-3 times less compared to the same services procured in the US or Canada.
Communication. Information can be shared quickly and securely at the click of a button. Teams can communicate via online platforms, and collaborative work is made easier.
Globally distributed teams are fast becoming the norm. With the right processes in place and the right people on the ground, such teams can be extremely valuable, easily manageable, and highly profitable.
But how do you keep the offshore team spirit alive? This might be the one potential challenge.
When people talk about what motivates them to go to work every day, compensation is frequently the first thing they mention. However, there are plenty of talented individuals out there who are motivated by more than just money, and extending the talent search offshore is a great way to find them.
In my experience, the best employees are the ones who are curious, looking to grow, and care. People of that nature don’t normally want to work for traditional outsourcing service providers as the quality of the work they are often asked to perform is not innovative, not interesting, and frequently- mundane. As a result, these individuals seek employment with companies that develop their products, where they can truly make a difference.
Roman Kaplun, CEO, Zoolatech
An exciting product is one way to keep your remote engineers happy and engaged. However, there are many other challenges on the way, and it can be difficult to keep your offshore team interested and motivated as if they were working alongside the onshore team.
How can you make sure the offshore team is well motivated throughout the long development process?
A Project management professional James R. Chapman has the answer. A renowned project manager, he established an algorithm to maintain remote team motivation. His findings, though dating back to 1985, remain relevant today.
Chapman says that there are three conditions that lead to a motivated employee:
- A clear ownership of a defined task
- The person is fully equipped to do the task (with the correct tools and training)
- Timely feedback and accountability for results
Chapman states that in 9 cases out of 10, this triangle will result in a motivated employee and a task completed on time.
Since that’s what we aim for at Zoolatech, let’s take a closer look at each of those points.
Responsibility for the Task
Oddly enough, the most common issue when working with remote teams comes in the form of poorly explained tasks distributed among the team without specific assignments.
We believe that a task should have 3 points specified:
- Deadline. Specify either a definite time slot or a release date.
- Assignee. Know who’s working on the task.
- Priority. Think about the importance of the task compared to others in your backlog.
Remember that all tasks should be recorded in a task manager or a task-tracking tool. For the assignee to feel responsibility for the task and the result, you are also advised to set the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) tasks and to get a work breakdown structure and task evaluation from the assignee.
A Similar Set of Tools & One Chat for Everyone
You need to ensure that the team:
● has enough knowledge and skills to complete the task
● possesses the necessary software, hardware, and other tools they need
● has access to the repository with the project documentation
● has access to the repository with the project code
● has access to the tracker of tasks and bugs
● is familiar with the rules and procedures within the project
● can quickly contact all project participants
● knows the roles and responsibilities of each member
● has a communication channel to alert you to urgent problems
Make sure all teams use a similar set of tools and follow the standardized procedures when working with software and code. To make things even better, arrange it so that your whole team always uses one platform and the same management software. This helps to make sure that everyone is aware of who does what, and those who work remotely can solve issues as effectively as if they were in the office.
Regular Reporting Without Micromanagement
Even if you don’t use special project management or time management software, make sure to use the daily email reporting system. It takes 5 minutes, yet it is an effective two-way channel of communication between the performer and the project manager. You can also arrange daily 15-minute meetings to share what you worked on yesterday, your plans for today, as well as any potential issues that need to be resolved.
Communication is the top priority for the management of distributed teams.
However, you should know when enough is enough. Avoid being extremely strict and controlling the time and efficiency of remote workers and give them the freedom they need. Evaluate the results of their work and consider them to be your secret weapon. Constant checks and monitoring of their every step will only become a source of unwanted stress and ultimately cause a downturn in productivity.
Zoolatech Experience: Treat Your Remote Team Equally
So, your remote team is working on your dream product, your team members are fully equipped are assigned clear tasks and provide timely reports. Is that everything? Can you rest assured that the developers on the other side of the world are equally motivated and enthusiastic?
There’s one last thing you need to do: treat your remote team as if they’re an in-house team.
This is something that is truly important to Zoolatech and is at the heart of what we do. Here’s what Roman Kaplun, our CEO, has to say about his experience of working with a dedicated offshore team:
The Team offshore were treated equally, as our inhouse team members, not as an obscure group of people located on the other side of the world. We invested in constant travel both ways, as well as maintaining a continuous dialog between engineers, architects, and managers via technical debates and hackathons. At the C-level, we made sure we listened and cared for the concerns of the offshore team, and we embraced the diversity of opinions and promoted respect.
Roman Kaplun, CEO, Zoolatech
As a result, the offshore employees stayed with the product for years and exhibited a tremendous amount of loyalty and dedication to the client and products. Fundamentally, they really cared, which is crucial but sometimes hard to achieve when running an offshore engagement.
Here are five essential tips from Zoolatech for creating true partnerships with your offshore team:
- Make sure everyone is clear on the bigger picture
- Be transparent in your communication
- Use a virtual shared workspace
- Set achievable deadlines
- Treat your outsourced team with respect and exercise trust