One of the greatest challenges in working together with and managing remote developers is the collaboration side of your efforts.

You may be someone used to managing an entire team in one place. Or you may already be well-versed with the nuances of running a remote team. Nevertheless, the obstacle of building a good relationship with a remote developer on the other side of the world isn’t easily addressed.

There may be the problem of bad communication, misunderstandings and hours spent trying to clarify or straighten things out. The good news is, all of this is perfectly avoidable!

That is, if you tackle the art to effective collaboration.

How can you do this? What are the tools you can leverage to boost effective collaboration?

This article will uncover the steps you can take to make your remote partnerships with developers more fruitful. Read on to find out how you can get started.

Steps to boost effective collaboration

Did you know that the remote working lifestyle has grown by 140% since 2005? This is not including freelancers and entrepreneurs. That is a huge growth figure and points to an ever-increasing popularity for remote-work, especially among developers.

This is expected; considering the flexibility and healthy work-life balance that can be established with remote-work. Remote workers can get better sleep, no longer having to worry about rising early for the trouble of a commute!

However, there are challenges that arise with remote working as well.

One challenge lies in addressing the communication issues that may arise. With real-time chat in person no longer possible, barriers to effective communication occur and can impact the work being done.

Source: Buffer

However, it isn’t impossible to create a strong bond with remote teams. The secret to your success lies in the steps you take to lay the foundation to effective and strong collaboration.

Here are four steps you can take to get started.

1. Set your goals and expectations

The first question to ask yourself is what are you trying to achieve? What do you want your end result to be from the collaboration with a remote developer?

It’s important to have your goals and expectations defined in a clear and quantifiable manner before embarking upon a partnership with a developer. Why? In order to communicate your expectations to the developer.

While your developer works on the task assigned to him/her, you can then focus on the timely completion of your own goals. While monitoring the developer is important, it should not take over as the priority.

You should trust in the developer to make the necessary progress required from their end and deliver by the project completion period. This trust in their ability is rooted in their professionalism but also in the confidence of your communication.

The groundwork to fostering collaboration with your remote developer begins with communicating what you want from them:

  1. What is your vision for the end product?
  2. How often do you expect your developer to communicate their progress?
  3. What are the standards you expect for the final product?
  4. When will the developer be available for routine catch-ups?
  5. How can the developer help in creating a product that requires little-to-no rework and reduces customer dissatisfaction?

Depending on the type of developer you partner with, their expectations from you may also vary. For example, if you’re working with an agency, it’s highly possible they have their own standard operating procedures; an indicator of their professionalism.

Individual freelancers however would opt for more flexible options and would not appreciate being “chased” on a daily basis.

Hence communication at the very start of your collaboration is key to the entire project’s success.

2. Effectively communicate to your team

Imagine all the time saved in clarifications and rectifying errors if you clearly communicate with your remote developer, not only at the start, but throughout the process of working with them!

Depending on the remote set-up, they may be working from home, in an office-based set-up or situated somewhere across the globe. Relying on time-zone differences can be unreliable especially for projects of high importance with fast approaching deadlines.

Source: Anne Boyle

This is where leveraging technology as an aid comes into the picture. It’s always a good practice to use project management tools to store all the information in one, accessible location for the remote developer and yourself.

Another good idea is to provide visual support. If you’re working with an agency open to regular catch-ups, this could be done in the form of regular Skype sessions and leveraging screen-sharing to illustrate the points you would like to share. With a remote developer who is not regularly accessible, you can use video recordings to communicate.

The price of a misunderstanding comes high in areas of remote work. Working on your effective communication, setting clear expectations from the start and following up on these instructions is essential.

3. Conduct regular catch-ups and follow-ups

Feedback is a continual process that should never cease during your interactions with your remote developer.

It sets in motion once the project is initiated and is helpful, to both you as well as your remote developer.

Feedback helps:

  1. Reinstate the vision of your end product and collaboration
  2. Improve your remote developers’ performance
  3. The remote developer understand how important the project is to you

It is unreasonable for you to expect your developer to read your mind and know exactly what you want delivered and how.

By having regular catch-ups and coordinating efforts on both sides however, your relationship will improve as will the quality of the work being done. It’s easy for remote workers to feel alienated due to their very lifestyle.

That’s why it’s all the more important for you to make them feel like a part of the team by engaging regularly and treating them as such. This can be done in the form of video-calls with everyone in front of their screens, driving a sense of unity to the developer.

When the remote developer grows this bond of feeling part of your team, they are more likely to receive feedback well and effectively take action upon iit.

Remember: feedback isn’t always about pointing out the required areas of improvement. It’s also about praising them when they get things done right!

If your developer has done an excellent job, it’s good to give them a metaphorical pat on the back so they feel a sense of accomplishment for a night’s well-deserved rest.

4. Leverage the right tools from start to end

Technology is the glue that holds you and your remote developer together.

Whatever old-school methods you are used to working with by managing an in-office team are great and skills you can leverage to manage working with your remote developer.

However, with this more evolved form of work, you also require the right tools. For example, by using the aforementioned project management tools like Trello or Asana. These tools make it easy for you to monitor the work being done on a member basis without requiring multiple personal follow-ups.

It’s also wise to think about cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, for instance, if the project you are working on involves handling huge or multiple files.

Like this, there are multiple team collaboration tools and platforms you can use to enhance your working with a remote developer. These can also be extended to use with a larger team if required.

Source: Techuz

Pro-tip: you can go a step further and consider building your own remote-working app for collaboration and communication. By doing this, you have more control over the features you want to incorporate and use.

Remote Partnerships Effective Collaboration = Success

Working with remote team set-ups is no longer a spectacle and has become normalized due to the advent of technology.

With a fair chunk of the working class opting for freelance and solopreneur life-styles, you should certainly consider the perks of working with a remote developer if you haven’t already.

Your successful management of remote teams and developers all boils down to one thing: creating a healthy and strong working relationship.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the human touch. No matter how advanced technology grows and how much the world continues to evolve with it, the end-users are still people.

The importance of creating strong interpersonal relationships is everlasting; especially in the context of building a system of efficient collaboration.

By doing so, you can continue to build your remote working capabilities and partnerships in line with the growing perks of a highly globalized and dynamic business environment.

Have you worked with a remote developer before? What were your biggest take-aways? Do you have a preferred remote team collaboration tool? Let us know in the comments!