How to Manage and Support a Remote DevOps Team

Remote working is growing in the DevOps sector, and leaders must support remote workers to create a happy and productive team. With the right know-how, employers can develop an environment that produces all-round great results, as this article explains. 

Just like working in an office, working remotely has both good and bad points. There are later get-ups and more chances to work autonomously, while at the same time, it can get lonely, and communication can take that bit longer.

The IT industry is not immune to remote working and the issues it entails, and just like every other industry, it’s experiencing a boom in this area. This means that to take this field into the future; firms should learn how to support remote workers properly.

It shouldn’t matter if you manage one or 100 workers remotely – the key to keeping your employees happy is to manage your teams well, so they know they can focus on making the best DevOps and cloud computing decisions possible.

Here are four tips to help you do that.

Keep Up Communication

Two heads are better than one. We all know that. And in an ideal world, sharing ideas on agile project management with teammates probably works best when everyone is in the same space. But remote teams aren’t. So, to make the most of your DevOps squad, you need to encourage communication. And practice what you preach.

Getting an isolated team together to talk about ideas creatively is hard, especially when dealing with a sizable DevOps department. Because, as we’ve all discovered by now, the internet can randomly cut out or the sound quality suddenly drops in the middle of a conference.

This makes teamwork impractical, to say the least. What’s more, when dealing with remote teams, people can be thousands of miles apart and working in different time zones.

The key to dealing with these issues is to keep up communication. It may get annoying at times, but it’s much better to give too much information than vague instructions. There’s nothing worse than being left with a set of ambiguous dictates and feeling like there’s no one there to ask for clarification. So make sure everyone is talking about their ideas and the changes they’re making.

Don’t overwhelm people with unnecessary details, but remember that it’s easy to ask follow-up questions or clarify points when talking face to face. However, when talking online, it can take a while to get a response or people may not be as clear. So, don’t be ambiguous, be open, and encourage others to communicate too and use the right tools.


Provide Equipment and Tools

One solution is to provide teams with the latest equipment they need to get the job done. Okay, this may be a little costly to start with, but it’s important to make sure employees have what they require. In looking at the future and seeing the inevitable growth of home working, it’s vital to ensure remote workers are equipped with the correct tools.

After all, you would expect a remote sales team to have access to VoIP equipment and headsets, so you should provide the same for your DevOps team. It may be that you pay for a strong internet connection so people can get on with work, or for state-of-the-art headphones to help people communicate better in meetings.

You can also make sure that people can access the right communication tools, such as Slack or Trello. Setting people up with the correct tools ensures that organisation and interaction are the best they can be. Plus, it doesn’t matter if they’re using asynchronous communication or are halfway across the world; people can still get their valuable ideas in.

Whatever it is, setting people up properly will make life much easier all around.



Make Things Personal

Working around others will also help. This could mean taking into account different time zones and setting up meetings at an hour when as many people as possible can be involved. Or it could mean saying goodbye to the 9-5 and providing teams with a level of flexibility that makes their lives a little bit easier. It could even be that you encourage people to take a digital learning class to boost their skills.

Understanding that people have different needs makes people happier and more productive.

A big reason for having a DevOps remote team is that it allows you to outsource skills. This means that team members may not know each other, as well as they, would in an office. And sometimes, it can be hard to bounce ideas off each other or work around individual needs when people don’t know each other very well.

One way around this is to have weekly gatherings, quizzes, or social meetings via video-based solutions. This helps people to get to know each other and shows people’s fun sides. Building human-to-human relationships encourage workers to want to do things for each other.

Part of being a supportive leader is that you treat people like humans. Acknowledging and dealing with remote workers’ needs on a personal level will create DevOps workers eager to put their all in. Even just a “check-in” meeting to see how people are doing will help boost morale and show you care about your remote team.

Be Experimental

Just because something has worked amazingly well for your rival, doesn’t mean it will work the same for you. To really make sure you’re prepared for the future of remote work, you will need to try different things and see what works best for your team.

In the end, DevOps is about changing cultures and the way we think. So isn’t taking an original and creative approach simply reflecting on the DevOps’ ethos?

This could mean that you need to take a different approach socially. Or it could be that while you have nailed the time zone thing, talking through messaging needs that bit more effort.

Everyone is different. Talk to your team and see what is and isn’t working for them. Remember that this isn’t going to be an overnight process, and it’s worth investing time into experimenting with what works. This will ensure remote working is a success in the long run.

For some companies, working remotely is a new adventure. For others, it’s simply a way of drawing in the best talent from around the world. Whatever the reason, following these four tips, will demonstrate that you’re there for your remote team.

Keeping up communication lets people know what’s going on, whilst providing tools means employees can get on with their job. Treating staff as actual humans keeps people happy, and being experimental with your approach lets you figure out what works for you.

Doing all this will ensure workers in your remote DevOps team are content, productive, and efficient, and that firms can make sure their practices reflect the latest global trends.

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About the Author


Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams.
Find out more about @sam-obrien

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