DigitalOcean’s Currents report analyzes the most relevant trends of the software development world. As one of today’s most discussed topics in IT, last year’s survey focused on working with remote software developers.
The United States and Canada are the leading countries in terms of working with remote software developers with 44% and 43% of those surveyed working primarily remotely. The following countries are the United Kingdom with 37% and India with 25%.
The survey showed that remote teams make use of all types of communication channels and collaboration software. Business collaboration software like Slack and Skype are most preferred, followed by instant messaging, email, phone (either texting or calling) and Video conference tools (GoToMeeting, Zoom, Hangouts, etc.)
We can testify to this ourselves, as we also use Slack and Skype most often while working remotely with our clients.
While it is quickly becoming common practice, remote development work still provides unique challenges and obstacles teams must overcome to reach success. You’ll find that communication, project management as well as technical aspects of software development all require a bit different mindset in a remote setting.
We have plenty of experience with this topic, as our team works 100% remotely with every client. After completing 40+ international custom software projects, we’ve gained some very valuable insights and experience about the dos and don’ts of remote development work.
THE MOST COMMON CHALLENGES APPEAR IN THE AREA OF:
Introducing new team members to a large codebase requires quite a lot of time and effort. Under codebase we mean a whole collection of source code that is used to build a particular software system or component. If the code is messy and poorly documented, newly joined remote developers will find it difficult to understand how all pieces of the code are working together.
This is why it is extremely important to follow industry best practices and standards and to writing code. Clean code is written using suitable design patterns and is easy to read and understand for fellow developers.
Adding clear and detailed documentation is also crucial at every stage of the project. Before writing a single line of code, the first thing for new team members should be reading any available information about the project.
Communication-related challenges are frequently mentioned as the biggest obstacles while working with remote software developers. Collecting daily updates, discussing urgent issues, or explaining new tasks and objectives becomes somewhat more difficult if you are working in different locations, or even time zones. As remote team members often work with flexible hours as well, gathering everyone involved together in a virtual meeting room at the same time becomes a challenge of its own.
To make sure everyone is always on the same page, we schedule frequent (sometimes even daily) online meetings with our clients and other development teams. To discuss more urgent issues, our team primarily uses channels like Slack, Skype or Email.
Apart from this, we also have longer weekly meetings and a product demonstration meeting at the end of each development sprint (every 2 weeks). This may sound like a lot, but the people we work with really appreciate having such a deep insight into the project at all times.
Without version control and issue tracking systems, working with remote software developers would be an absolute nightmare. They make web projects much easier to implement and manage in particular. Version tracking allow each team member to work on any file at anytime without having to worry about overwriting current versions, or wasting time locating where the latest iteration of a file is being stored.
Issue tracking tools have proven particularly useful for project managers and product owners to oversee complex development projects. Everyone can see scheduled work tasks and what each developer is working on at all times. We like to invite our clients into our issue trackers to help them see exactly what we’re working on at any given stage of the project.
During our remote development projects we mainly use Asana, Jira or Trello for issue tracking, and GitLab, GitHub or BitBucket for version tracking.
If someone works as part of a remote team for a longer period of time, they often feel like they’re not as valuable to the team as the people working on site. This can lead to them overworking themselves to contribute as much as possible, or to them feeling depressed and demoralized.
Meeting the remote team in person and organizing team building events can have a great effect on morale. It can also help everyone involved form a more personal connection. Even if your team is located overseas, we would encourage you to meet with them at least once a year, if your’re planning an ongoing cooperation.
Remote work in software development has become the new norm instead of the exception. You are truly missing out if you aren’t utilizing the benefits of working with remote software developers. A few of these benefits are a larger available talent pool, higher employee satisfaction and higher cost-efficiency.
The development of sophisticated online communication, version tracking and issue tracking tools makes this form of cooperation more seamless and efficient than ever. New innovations in this space will continue to remove the remaining barriers of working remotely.
More niche products designed for specific roles will enter the market. Some experts also predict that AI technology will help keep an increasingly remote workforce aligned to an organization’s timelines, goals, and priorities.
With all the necessary technology at our fingertips, and the growing demand for software development experts, it’s safe to say that remote work will only become more widespread over the next decade.