Five ways to mismanage a remote development team.

Remote work sounds great, but there’s more to it than having a laptop and decent WiFi. You have to be prepared for cultural clashes, miscommunication, shattered expectations… To run an effective remote team, you have to be prepared to put in a lot of work. Or, just read this post and unthinkingly follow our 5 terrible tips directly down the path to ruin.

Managing a successful remote team takes self-awareness, empathy, and a lot of very deliberate strategies and processes to help make sure that everyone has what they need, tasks and resources are allocated efficiently, and work is carried out in the most effective way.

But if you can’t be bothered with all that, here are five techniques to mismanage your team and mess up your projects.

1. Neglect your team

One of the most time-consuming parts of managing a remote team is keeping track of all the little differences that make your co-workers the beautiful and unique individuals they are. So save that time, and don’t bother!

Forget about time zones. Keep everyone on their toes, guessing when the next surprise meeting will pop up in their calendar. Ignore cultural nuances, public holidays, standard working hours and burnout. Instead, aim for a no-holds-barred approach, merging work and personal life into an indistinguishable blur, where every waking (or otherwise) moment might be a potential work moment.

Encourage a rugged, do-it-yourself ethos by refusing to provide your team with the tools they need to get the job done, ensuring that they’ll have to improvise with things they find around the house. Ergonomic chair? Sit on the floor. Standing desk? Use a cardboard box. A comprehensive onboarding and training programme? Search the web.

And when it comes to motivating your team mates, why bother? What better motivation than confusion, paranoia and panic.

2. Expectations, schmexpectations

Add an extra thrill to projects by not setting expectations with team members and project stakeholders.

Working collaboratively towards a shared goal is boring. Much more exciting if you don’t know what everybody is working on, or even if they are working at all. Remote working is supposed to be flexible, so lean into that and don’t bother about overlapping work schedules or setting stressful deadlines.

And if you think sign-off meetings are exhilarating now, imagine the adrenaline rush when the client schedules one half way through the build because you haven’t told them how long it will take.

3. Embrace communication chaos

Ditch the snooze-fest of daily team meetings and monthly check-ins. Why settle for mundane predictability when you can bask in the glorious uncertainty of never knowing who’s doing what? Imagine the thrill of decoding messages scattered across seventeen different platforms—each more obscure than the last, sifting through an ever-growing pile of unread messages, emails, and missed calls to find that one piece of crucial feedback that someone swears they sent you… last week? Or was it yesterday?

By bravely refusing to settle on a consistent communication method or schedule, you’re not just managing a team; you’re writing your own mystery novel, where every day is a new plot twist. All your co-workers can join in, piecing together clues to uncover the storyline of your project’s progression.

Truly, this is the future of team management – where every message is a surprise, and every meeting an unexpected adventure.

4. Variety is the spice of life

And what better way to spice up your coworkers’ lives than by introducing a new communication tool every month? Imagine the excitement on their faces as they juggle Slack, Zoom, Discord, carrier pigeon, and two cans connected by a string, all in the pursuit of finding the elusive ‘perfect’ tool.

Consistency might streamline processes and reduce cognitive load, but where’s the fun in that? This isn’t a job – it’s an adventure. Okay, it is a job, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to inject a little unpredictability.

5. Micromanage

As the project manager, it’s your job to manage everything about the project. Anyone who says otherwise is looking for an easy ride, and probably needs extra careful scrutiny to make sure they’re doing everything just right.

Some (insubordinate, lazy) developers might argue that you should trust them to get the work done, but this is an excuse. To bring the project to completion successfully, everyone needs to be working in tune with each other, and they can’t be expected to do that on their own. It’s like conducting an orchestra where the musicians are playing in different continents, and your baton is a series of increasingly specific and urgent Slack messages.

The self-proclaimed project management master

The beauty of managing a remote team is that you can be everywhere at once – peeking over digital shoulders, popping up unannounced on video calls, the omnipresent guardian of productivity. With your benevolent wisdom guiding their every move, your team can relax, confident that you have the best interests of the project at heart. Autonomy is overrated.

If you’re looking for a development team that truly understands the challenges of remote working, you should get in touch.

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