How to Lead a Remote Enterprise Development Team

April 10, 2020

Categories: Best Practices, Development

In 2019, close to 25% of the US workforce was working remotely. Today, that number is skyrocketing due to social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders. While these are new waters for many, technology is making it easier than ever before. Even more so, people across the globe are embracing virtual life – hosting events, leading meetings and attending social gatherings like happy hours and game nights without ever leaving their living rooms.

For businesses, the change to remote work can come with some more growing pains. Executives and managers are finding themselves navigating how to connect teams, maintain morale and keep work going. 

This can be especially hard for large or highly collaborative enterprise development teams that are used to working closely together through things like pair programming. 

We chatted (virtually, of course) with Crhistian Ramirez, Four51’s Front End Development Team Manager, to talk about how managing an enterprise development team has changed since going remote.  

[ Interview ] How to Lead a Remote Enterprise Development Team

What is the biggest challenge of managing Four51’s enterprise development team remotely? 

For the Four51 team, our biggest challenge has been maintaining our culture. When we’re in the office, we are collaborating closely with each other throughout the day. When we are all remote, it’s easy to get heads down working and not talk to the rest of the team all day unless there’s a meeting scheduled. It’s important to me to keep that sense of team and collaboration, so working through that has been something we’re very focused on. 

So what are you doing to keep the team’s culture alive? 

We’ve set up video meetups a few times a week at the end of the day that are optional and non-work related. It gives us a chance to catch up, check-in and chat like we would in the office.

We also tend to send each other a lot of memes. 

What tools have you used to make leading the team easier? 

We mostly use Slack for communication throughout the day and Google Hangouts for virtual meetings. Slack is an important tool for us because it’s what we use to keep up to date with what everyone is working on each day. Since we do a lot of pair programming, we use a vscode extension called LiveShare; it’s basically Google Docs but for a code editor. 

virtual pair programming at four51

How has working remotely changed how you manage your team? And how has it changed how you work as a team?

I’m a lot more purposeful about reaching out to individual team members and checking in on how they’re doing both personally and professionally. Since we’ve cut down on the number of meetings we’re having, we’re focusing on clear communication of daily to-dos, the status of sprints, and where projects are at. 

What piece of advice would you give to someone else leading an enterprise development team?

Leading a remote enterprise development team, during a pandemic or not, takes leadership, plenty of tools, and good team communication. As you navigate the current reality, be intentional about ways you can spend time working together even if you are apart.