Remote work and IT outsourcing productivity: How to manage distributed teams effectively?

28 03

Remote work and IT outsourcing productivity: How to manage distributed teams effectively?

logo-kwadrat-2 Author: Magdalena Suszek

Magdalena Suszek – Senior IT Recruiter with a solid 7 years of experience in talent sourcing, technical recruitment and recruitment coordination in outsourcing and in-house models. She has extensive experience in identifying hard-to-find talent and hiring the most sought-after professionals, while always providing top-quality applicants and ensuring a friendly recruitment process.

Remote work has become the new normal, and managing distributed IT teams is now a key success factor for many organisations. What strategies and tools can you use to ensure smooth communication and effective collaboration? How do you keep remote workers motivated and engaged? What are the challenges to overcome? In this article, I’m going to explore these questions to identify best practices and strategies for effectively managing remote IT teams.

Remote work in Poland – what are the trends?

According to Statistics Poland, in the first quarter of 2023, 7.1% of Polish employees performed their work remotely. This corresponds to around 1.2 million people. In addition, 13.9% of employees worked from home either occasionally or regularly.

Remote work in the IT sector

The trend towards remote work in IT remains strong, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of this mode of working in many organisations around the world. In the IT sector, this has been driven by highly digitised processes and easy access to tools. According to the Deloitte Remote Work Survey, more than 80% of companies worldwide have already implemented some level of remote work, which demonstrates that this working model is also popular beyond the IT industry. 

What tools should you consider to improve remote work management?

Mobility and flexibility are key values in today’s IT world. But managing a remote, distributed team is a real challenge, and not just for managers. From communication to task coordination, there are many aspects to consider when looking to improve the efficiency and productivity of remote working. Let us take a look at some of the tools available to the IT sector that can help to make remote work more manageable. 

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)

Combining Google Drive for storing and sharing files, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Presentations for creating and editing documents online, this tool offers full support for remote work environments. It also includes Google Calendar for scheduling meetings and Meet for video conferencing. 

Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack

Face-to-face communication tools enable virtual meetings, group chats and real-time collaboration. Widely used in many industries, including the IT sector, they facilitate day-to-day communication between team members. 

Asana, Trello, Jira

These are essential tools for organising work, prioritising tasks, tracking progress and meeting deadlines. Useful for both IT teams (with Jira particularly popular with IT professionals) and other departments, they make it easier to manage projects and tasks in a structured and transparent way. 

GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, SourceForge

These are source code management and developer collaboration tools. Each of them enables the creation and hosting of Git repositories, which are used to store the source code of projects. They allow programmers to work together on the code as a team. Users are able to add, delete, and modify files, and track changes using the Git version control system.

AWS Management Console, Google Cloud Console

Cloud infrastructure management tools provide a range of capabilities, including:

  • Creating and configuring different types of cloud resources, 
  • Monitoring resource performance and availability in real time, 
  • Automating cloud infrastructure management processes.

 They also offer security management capabilities such as authentication, authorisation, access control, security event monitoring and data encryption.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Symantec Endpoint Protection, Cisco Secure

These tools enable organisations to effectively protect their systems, data and infrastructure from cyber threats. They provide authentication and authorisation, security event monitoring, security policy management and data encryption. 

How do you motivate remote IT workers?

With the popularity of remote work in the IT sector, proper management of remote teams is becoming increasingly important. As well as ensuring flexible working arrangements, there is a need to focus on the motivation and development of remote professionals. It is in this context that talent management plays a particularly important role.

Creating individual development plans for employees

Talent management is the effective use of human resources. It involves identifying, developing and retaining the organisation’s most valuable people. This includes several processes, such as:

  • Recruitment, 
  • Training, 
  • Performance appraisal, 
  • Career development.

Talent management is based on individual development plans that empower employees to grow through coaching, training and new assignments. These types of activities also help to retain key remote workers who demonstrate the necessary skills and commitment. 

Performance management as a motivator

 In a remote working environment, motivating employees requires replacing traditional techniques with a different approach. Instead of direct supervision, there is a need to focus on managing work outcomes. Encouragement and trust are key, and output evaluation should be the main measure of employee work and performance. 

Reward and recognition programmes

Rewarding employees for their achievements keeps them engaged and increases their sense of fulfilment by 366% and their sense of community by 208%. Rewarded employees also plan to stay with the organisation for an average of three years longer than non-rewarded employees, according to research by OC Tanner. The bottom line is that recognition matters because it reassures employees that their efforts are valued by the organisation and contributes to a positive working environment.

Regular performance assessment and constructive feedback

Performance management involves monitoring ongoing activities, as well as providing support and feedback to help improve working practices. Only the end result is evaluated, giving remote workers the freedom to organise their work process and stimulating their development.

Supporting work-life balance

This means providing employees with the tools they need to manage their time effectively and achieve a good relationship between work and personal life. This is particularly important in the case of remote work, where the line between professional and private life can become blurred. Failure to address this issue can lead to chronic stress, job burnout and reduced quality of life. To support remote workers, many companies offer:

  • Flexible working hours;
  • Sports programmes; 
  • Healthcare; 
  • Mental health care; 
  • Loyalty programmes; 
  • Regular team-building activities; 
  • Subsidised work equipment;
  • Co-working spaces.

Organising online training and workshops

For many employees, professional development is a key motivator, as it is often the gateway to career advancement. Online training courses can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. According to the Polish IT Community Report 2023, up to 77% of IT professionals acquire the knowledge required for their job from online courses. 

Good internal communication

In the Polish IT Communication Report 2023, 29% of respondents say that communication problems with their team and manager affect the quality of their work. Interestingly, this is the second most important issue, just behind procedural problems (38%), and applies to companies of all sizes (surveyed companies had anywhere from 50 to 500+ employees). 

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What are the technical issues that can arise when working remotely in IT?

From hardware failures to internet connectivity issues, remote IT workers face difficulties that can disrupt work and reduce efficiency. What are the key technical issues for remote IT workers? 

IT security issues

In the context of remote working, the increasing number of cyber attacks is a major concern for IT companies. Many organisations are trying to prevent this by investing in security and providing digital security awareness training. At the same time, only 52% believe their organisations have the right tools and people in place to respond to cyber attacks.

Device-related technical challenges

On average, 18% of IT professionals face technical challenges when working remotely, according to the Polish IT Community Report 2023. Performance can be compromised by using laptops for multiple tasks at once. Also, connecting external devices such as monitors can be difficult as modern laptops may have a limited number of USB-C ports or may lack a HDMI port. 

VPN incompatible tools

When working remotely, the use of VPNs can have an impact on the operation of some platforms. These often require direct access to code repositories and remote servers in order to synchronise changes, download updates and share code. Using a VPN can make it difficult to communicate with tools such as GitLab or GitHub that programmers use in their daily work. 

Effective management of distributed teams, including when using IT outsourcing, is a key skill in today’s business environment, especially in the context of remote working. Communication, choosing the right tools, setting clear goals and flexible working practices are key success factors. Investing in the development of technical and interpersonal skills fosters effective team performance. The value of effectively managing distributed IT teams is reflected in increased flexibility, productivity and employee satisfaction. In today’s world of remote working, this capability is critical to the success of an organisation.