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Foretheta

Do remote teams deliver lower quality software?

Yassine Tounsi
I am an accomplished Project Management Professional (PMP), with +10 years of experience in software engineering.
・4 min read

Remote work has changed the dynamics of the workplace. Companies are no longer restricted to physical locations to function and flexibility is essential for recruitment according to the findings of the 2019 Global Talent Trends Report by LinkedIn.

Organizations that allow employees to work from remote locations have an easier time keeping their employees, especially with more employees wanting flexibility with travel and avoiding commutes to work.

But this vision is far from the current reality: Managers still prefer on-site workers because of prejudice against remote teams. We will list some reasons behind this bias and explain how remote teams get around them.

Engagement

The staff’s collective effort contributes largely to achieving organizational goals. Managers have to engage employees in the establishment of projects and plans. Having managers on-site makes engagement and collaboration with workers easier. They can reach out to them for meetings, to brainstorm, and to delegate tasks.

However, remote teams do not have to be less engaged. Team members can leverage technology to stay connected. A variety of tools are available for different activities. Some of these activities include instant messaging and video conferencing for communication.

Collaboration becomes easy with the help of tools at the disposal of a remote workforce. Everyone can take part in ongoing projects. Members have the option to work either as a group or as individuals. Notifications are in place for handoffs, so team members know when they turn to take over or make an input.

Focus

A focused team needs to pay attention to details for excellent performance. Managers feel that on-site workers are more focused on their job than remote teams. This idea stems from the belief that remote teams get distracted by their families and friends, and their home chores, although distraction is not exclusive to remote teams.

On-site workers also suffer from distractions from co-workers and office activities that are beyond their control. There is a lot of physical movement at the workplace: People are always moving files from one desk to another or asking each other questions. They grab the slightest opportunity to talk about other matters unrelated to work.

Remote workers have control over their schedules and environment. They have the power to avoid distractions by choosing a convenient time and place to work.

Remote teams working from home can choose specific working hours. They don’t need to combine office work and home chores when they can do both at separate times. Choosing an isolated part of the house for work is one way to manage distractions at home.

Management

Effective management maintains organization in the workplace. The center stage falls apart when there is no coordination among workers. Managers believe that on-site workers are easier to manage. This belief is because they can monitor every move their employees make. They end up micromanaging workers at their own expense, thus wasting time and resources.

Employees feel overworked and pressurized when they know someone is watching them. They also ask their managers for help. As a result, managers answer repeated questions at their own expense.

Remote teams work according to stipulated guidelines. They have the information they need to work alone with little supervision. This independence is of significant benefit to managers as they have enough time to focus on other tasks instead of micromanaging the team.

Credibility

Credibility is vital for the sustainability and durability of a business. An organization loses its customers when it loses its credibility. Managers believe that having on-site workers makes their business more credible to clients. This belief is a case of misplaced value proposition.

Credibility lies in the quality of the delivered work and not the location of a business. Having a room full of workers does not guarantee excellent results. On-site workers may underperform if they are not well-grounded in their job.

A manager can build a remote talented team to deliver excellent services to clients. It is possible to hire talents with superb skill sets from different locations. Managers cannot achieve this with on-site workers because of the location barrier.

Trust

A trustworthy team protects the interest of an organization and goes the extra mile to get things done. Managers equate trust with activity. They are more comfortable seeing workers seated on their desks in front of a computer system.

However, research shows that on-site workers waste time surfing the internet at work. They know what managers want to see, and they offer it to them. They pack their bags and leave at the closing time.

A Stanford study found that remote teams are more productive than in-office workers by 13%. Their performance measurement was not done based on activity, but on the delivered results where there is no room for pretense.

There is no one-size-fits-all method in business. Organizations have the prerogative to adopt practices that are most suitable for them. Remote teams are a convenient alternative for managers who are more flexible in their working style. High performance is non-negotiable in remote teams. The only way they can meet this standard is to do their work. The results speak for themselves.

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