If you’re not taking advantage of the global talent pool of developers, you’re probably missing out. That’s a key piece of advice our CTO Morgan Sowden offers his London colleagues and fellow CTOs. The benefits are pretty clear to see. And the choice is easy to make since it benefits both the business and those working remotely.
Among Morgan’s top reasons for hiring remotely is “better access to top talent.” Our tech team includes outstanding developers across three continents. “Because we can offer excellent salaries for workers in those regions,” stated Morgan, “these remote developers are highly motivated, dedicated and incredibly reliable.”
It’s not just about the money
Remote workers are able to structure a good work/life balance. They can often choose between an office environment, working from home, working while traveling or combining work settings.
Our Python developer, Roman Isaev, greatly enjoys living in Penza, about 200 km from his hometown of Saratov, Russia. “Penza is a relatively small city and there are many trees. Most of the time I work from home, but sometimes I work from a cafe or park—even from another town when I visit my relatives or friends.”
Philip Adzanoukpe, another remote Python developer, works happily from Ghana where he enjoys beautiful landscape, beaches and West African culture. Philip describes Ghana as having “70 major annual festivals displaying the rich culture and history of Ghana. One can experience great art, food and music during these festivals. My favourite is Abokyir.”
For developer Denys Nehometianov, originally from one of Ukraine’s smaller cities, living in Kyiv gives him access to all the amenities of big city life. “Here you can keep the regular lifestyle of any other big, European city, while having much more affordable rent and housing prices,” stated Denys.
Making remote working work
Despite the benefits, remote working isn’t ideal for all roles. Product managers for example need to regularly interface with the business team and stakeholders. Designers need close observation and interaction with those using the product. Even QA engineers benefit from personal interactions and proximity to users for their research and testing.
But for backend developers, remote working can sometimes be an ideal situation, allowing them to create an atmosphere in which they do their best work, whether that’s in a quiet home office or a well-equipped, convivial co-working space.
We’ve discovered communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, Trello, GitPrime and Jira are phenomenally good for bridging the distance, keeping all workers, whether remote or onsite, literally on the same page in terms of timelines, reports, coding, etc.
In fact, our entire company culture is shared indiscriminately online, equally accessible to all teams, remote and onsite.
How data makes remote working more manageable
“We can only get better as a team if we can measure our performance,” stated Bob Vickers, Product Director. “Shared data keeps people aligned on what we are working on. It enables clear communication on a per story basis. It allows us to track and manage our work through a centralised place for us to observe progress.”
For tracking product measuring cycle time and forecasting, we use add-ons in Jira. These measures are then placed on the product backlogs in Trello. Product managers, our product director and our CTO are all kept up-to-date through one-on-one’s and summary reports.
According to Lorenzo Iannone, Head of Development, these data metrics are never used to micro-manage people. “We use them to understand if anyone needs help, if we are clear enough when we write stories, if our stories are small enough, and if we’re having any technical problems slowing down development.”
For our remote workers, having access to this data allows them to measure their own progress and provides an undisputed record of their accomplishments.
There’s more to remote working than being online
Trust, appreciation and respect can be difficult to build and maintain with colleagues who remain solely as online profiles. In-person visits to our London office go a long way toward building productive, long-term relationships with our remote workers.
“I usually come to London two times a year,” stated Vladimir Bayul, one of our Salesforce Developers based in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. “These visits give me the ability to share knowledge and have conversations in non-formal situations.”
Though Morgan places importance on carefully pre-planning these visits—scheduling work activities and meetings in advance to maximise the use of their time—he also emphasised the importance of arranging social events for our remote workers to enjoy with the whole team.
“They’re not here to work, they’re here to team build,” stated Morgan. “Take these developers out to lunch, take them to coffee, drinks in the evening, clubbing—make them feel a part of the team and welcome.”