How to manage and grow a technical, remote team

When you need to grow your team, be it from just yourself or from a few collaborators, you need to make sure the new team members fit in. This is even more important if you grow a remote team.

My experience in growing smallish teams, mostly in software development and scientific collaboration, is positive. I think most technical teams can work remotely. And I also believe that hiring without being in the same room is possible for many roles.

How to manage a remote team? If you work on a project with much coordination, I recommend to have a short daily (video) standup. Just let every team member tell what they did the day before, and what they plan to do today. That works surprisingly well to keep everybody up to date. And this also creates accountability for each team member.

Remote work can be lonely. Some team members thrive in such an environment, whereas others prefer much direct communication. Just be aware of the personal team member preferences, and help each team member find a role that fits their personality.

Pair team members on tasks: For each major task, pair two team members to work on this task. As an example, for a web application, let at least two people work on the front end, and also at least two people on the back end. Pairing helps team members to learn from each other, and helps the team to keep knowledge if a team member leaves.

Hiring and getting new members into the team should be handled by a proven, standard process. Be prepared that some hires don’t work out! Sometimes it’s not your fault, nor the fault of the new hire. Maybe it’s just the interaction between the new hire and the old team. What worked very well for me is to hire new team members on a project base first. When such a first project works out, you can hire them longer term.