Having a nearshore or distributed development team is a great way to grow your company. We hooked up with Michał and Fernando who work with two of our nearshore clients. We got their top tips for working in geographically distributed teams. We asked them:

  • What is the most challenging aspect of working in a distributed team? How do you overcome this challenge?
  • What tools could you not survive without?
  • What’s your top tip for working with distributed teams?

Here’s what they said:

MICHAŁ, PRINCIPAL SOFTWARE ENGINEER AT VALANT, POLAND

Q What is the most challenging aspect of working in a distributed team? How do you overcome this challenge?
For me, this is without a doubt the dissemination of information. You want your team members to be able to ask questions and get answers as easily as if they could get up and ask a friend at another desk. This is not always possible if that colleague and that desk are thousands of kilometers apart! Something that I observed working well is the use of and regular training on knowledge base systems, public and outspoken communication of changes and a nurtured public and digital forum where everybody is allowed to ask questions and answer others.

Q What tools could you not survive without?
A Thanks to a heavy use of Slack and Highfive (any reliable online meeting tool will do) I can feel a part of the team, even if I am not in the same physical location. All the discussions are public to the team and the decision-making process is very transparent. Very often, we will meet online in a virtual room to discuss a problem, demonstrate potential approaches to solving it or demo the final solution with the screen-sharing feature. It’s good if the software supports the recording of the meeting as you can then share it with people who cannot join but would be interested in the outcome. This is a huge benefit if there are no overlapping timezones or if team members work different hours.

Q What’s your top tip for working with distributed teams?
Create an atmosphere of transparency and nurture it among your team members. Everyone should feel included. Ensure everybody is aware of your productivity tools for the situation when they stumble upon an impediment in their work (knowledge base and similar tools). Look out for overcommunication though, not every decision and every online meeting requires everybody to participate. Consider involving the representatives of teams only. They can relay the information on to their teams.

 

FERNANDO, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT TEAM LEAD & ARCHITECT AT FEXCO, SPAIN 

Q What is the most challenging aspect of working in a distributed team? How do you overcome this challenge?
Creating good communication processes, and building trust. We overcome that by team building events where each member has the chance to meet the others in person. It’s also very important to use video conference tools as much as possible and encourage team members to “spread the word” when they make decisions in 1 to 1 conversation.

Q What tools could you not survive without?
We use Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom (for video conference and screen sharing). The number one tool for us is Slack because it has great add-ons for source code sharing and it has both mobile and desktop versions across all operating systems.

Q What’s your top tip for working with distributed teams?
Communicate, talk and chat! When working in distributed teams you need to push people to talk and not to work in isolation. A very good thing to do is to ask every team member to share what they have done in the last sprint.

Thanks for sharing Michał and Fernando!

Distributed Teams US and Europe Z

At Zartis.com, we help our clients build high performing nearshore and extended software development teams in Southern and Eastern Europe. Check out “10 Easy steps for Setting up a Nearshore Development Team” or get in touch if you are interested in learning more.