This guest post was written by Gabriela Molina, who is the writer and editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelancer, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.

The pandemic has changed the way people work forever. Nowadays, companies are shifting their business model towards remote work, which means they are also hiring remote employees

In the tech industry, where the competition is fierce, having access to the world’s top talent is the biggest advantage of hiring remote programmers. Mainly because companies don’t need to spend a fortune on this talent, as there are many countries with exceptional IT talent available at affordable rates. However, not everything is the bed of roses, and scaling an IT team has its challenges. In this article, you’ll find the 5 key steps to build a strong remote IT team.

remote IT team

1. Start with the Basics: Tools

When you work onsite, it’s easy to call everyone into meetings, discuss the projects, see how the results are going, etc. In remote teams, meetings are more challenging because 1) You’re not in the same room, and 2) Sometimes you manage different time zones.

Before starting to scale your IT team and work on projects, you need to start with the basics. This means, find out what are the best productivity tools for your remote team. That way, when your hiring process begins, you’ll be able to explain to the new programmers how things work in the team and how they are expected to work and use the tools. 

Keep in mind that there are 5 essential areas where you need to have the right tools to perform successfully in your team:

  1. HR: HR tools are crucial in remote teams because it helps you organize things such as payrolls, vacations, bonuses, contracts, etc. 
  2. Communication: If you’re not having face to face communication, you need to figure out what collaboration tools will be the best for your team to communicate efficiently even if everyone is hundreds of miles away. 
  3. Project management: How are you going to keep track of your projects? With project management tools you can organize the projects your dev team has, and it helps you see how things are moving forward. 
  4. Documentation: It’s fundamental to have everything documented, because you never know when you will need to review certain information/documents again. 
  5. Security: You need to keep all your employees and companies information safe from possible hackers. With security software systems and password keepers you won’t have to worry about losing important data. 

2. Have an Effective Hiring Process

When you already figure out what tools to use and have established a remote workflow, it’s time to get the right developers for your team.

Wrong hires not only cost you money, but they also cost you energy, time, and motivation from all your team. And hiring custom software developers is not a walk in the park! So how to get the remote hiring process right? It can get difficult if you don’t have a structure for it. Here are 5 steps to help you hire virtual IT talent

  1. Know exactly what kind of talent you need and what type of work arrangement you want (for example, if you’re looking for a freelancer dev, or you prefer having a full-time developer).
  2. Write the job description and post it on multiple platforms like LinkedIn to find the right talent and capture the attention of as many candidates as possible.
  3. Recruit and headhunt!
  4. Create a reliable interview process to test the developer’s knowledge, their soft skills and qualities.
  5. Have an employee onboarding process that helps them understand more about your company and their role and responsibilities.  

3. Establish Clear Guidelines 

You hired talented software developers, so you’re ready to rule the world, right? No, not quite yet! Before working on the projects, one of the most important aspects that remote IT teams (and any remote team) need is to have clear communication guidelines. 

How is communication going to work in your team? For example, are meetings going to be over Slack? Gmail? Or by Zoom? These things are fundamental to have cleared up in the first days of having a new employee on board.

Also, that they understand what their primary role and responsibilities are within your team or software development company. For example, how will they know that they are doing a good job? During the first week, you can hop on a call with them and tell them what your expectations are and what results you want to see them achieve. 

4. Meetings and 1:1s

We all know the importance of meetings. We discuss how the project/s are moving forward if there are any roadblocks, or what we can do to achieve our goals. And virtual meetings tend to be tricky because they often extend to two or more hours because they don’t have a specific structure. At the end of the meetings, you realize you didn’t discuss anything relevant with your team, and everyone is exhausted.

So, for remote software teams, instead of making them last longer than they need to, always plan out each meeting’s goals and purpose. That way, you go directly to the point! For example, applying agile daily stand-ups are a fast and effective strategy to know what everyone is up to. 

As for the 1:1s, they give you the perfect space to get to know more of your employees and see how they feel in the company. Providing them with constructive feedback also helps them understand their place in the company and how they can improve and be better at their jobs. It also improves employee retention by keeping employees motivated.

5. Build the Right Culture 

Building the ‘right culture’ sometimes feels like a cliché phrase that some entrepreneurs use to sound cool. However, building culture is actually what makes employees engaged and improve their work. When you build culture, you’re investing in nourishing and helping to build relationships in your company

When building a talented software dev team, one of your priorities should be to remind them that they are valuable and help them build a sense of purpose virtually. Culture is not about giving them a handbook about the company’s story and the core values. Culture is about connection and how each member of the team relates to one another. There are many examples of great company cultures out there. One of them is Twilio, where every team member is expected to be able to code. If they can’t, one of the developers will teach them. This is in line with the company’s commitment to innovation.

With the right tools and process, you’re ready to scale your software dev team in no time. These steps are perfect to set foundations and to help you build a strong virtual dev team in no time.

Now you’re ready to rule the world!