Engineering Leadership: How to Manage a Hybrid and Remote Software Product Engineering Team

Hybrid Remote Software Product Engineering Team

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.” (Agile Manifesto)

After two decades and a year-long global pandemic, business leaders are now considering new possibilities to run a software product engineering team efficiently. Hybrid remote software product engineering team – a model that can collaborate across different physical locations and time zones to finish a project on time.

Software product engineering teams are always known for their distributed collaboration, thus, its adaptation to the new normal turned out to be a swift shift. However, as COVID-19 vaccines become more accessible, it gave birth to the possibility of returning to previous office arrangements, resulting in a new workplace model – a hybrid team.

This blog introduces you to modern engineering leadership, what does it comprise, and expert tips to handle a dedicated software product engineering team in a hybrid workplace.

The Hybrid Software Product Engineering Team. Consider It for a Minute.

According to a Gartner report, over 80% of CEOs are planning to accept remote working at least part-time while 47% would consider it for full-time. The survey clearly indicates that many business leaders are reevaluating their norms, considering hybrid work environments over long-term remote working.

Advantages of Hybrid Remote Software Product Engineering Team

Leverage the hybrid model to get the best of both – in-office as well as the remote workforce.

1. Increased Productivity

Great Place to Work®, a global authority on work culture, measured employee productivity in the first six months of the quarantine period of 2020 and compared it with the same six-month window of 2019. The study shows improved productivity when employees were working from home. People were able to eliminate long daily commutes and lengthy in-person meetings, eventually, focusing more on their respective job responsibilities.

Employee productivity during remote working

2. Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication depends on collaboration tools and mentions. It avoids unwanted interruptions, reduces context switching, and enhances overall productivity.

If you are new to the system of asynchronous communication, it’s imperative that you analyze your team’s performance on several metrics. These factors will help you understand how this new system is affecting the productivity and efficiency of your team. For instance, if your software product engineers are writing more codes while on work from home and still the pull requests and cycle times are increasing, then you should know why.

3. Git – An Integral Element

Git system is a popular platform among developers. Whether they use GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Azure DevOps, or another form of git, developers do use Git for various stages of their software product development life cycle. The choices made by developers regarding the configuration, deployment, and utilization can impact the entire software product engineering process.

Additionally, Git is an open-source distributed control system, allowing the execution of most phases, especially coding, review, and merge, in different locations and at different time zones.

4. Project Management Tools

Use efficient project management tools, such as Jira or Trello to plan your iteration. In case you try to use them for making every day micro decisions, they might slow down your productivity.

Make every update while in ‘building mode’ automatically reflect the work status of your developers based on their actual git activities. This will help all the team members to stay in accord.

5. Continuous Improvement

Data is something that is important to all the members involved in the project. Let it be accessible to everyone on the team, not just data engineers. Limiting this information can hinder the entire process, especially in a hybrid work environment.

Key principles for data usage for the hybrid engineering team:

  • Set clear baseline data points and trends
  • Emphasize leading vs. lagging indicators
  • Analyze empirical data instead of subjective data
  • Examine team-based data rather than individual dev stack ranking
  • Measure process over overall output


Disadvantages of Hybrid Remote Software Product Engineering Team

Being a relatively new model, the hybrid team setup comes with a set of its own cons.

1. Increased Working Hours

A NordVPN, a New York-based Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provider, study suggests that remote working has led to a 2.5-hour increase in the average working day in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Austria. It hampers the work/life balance of your time, sometimes, affecting their mental and overall health.

Work from home means more working hours

2. Unnecessary Work Stress

In continuation to the previous point, keep in mind that the hybrid work arrangement is not for everyone. Some of your team members would need a structured office space or a social environment to bring their A-game to work. Identify the need of your team members or discuss your concerns with them directly to understand their preferences and reasons. It’s true that a hybrid environment would lose the camaraderie that face-to-face working brings. Don’t let your software product engineering team feel marginalized, finding it harder to voice out their opinions.

3. Diminished Customer Experience (CX)

You might require a few of your team members for client/customer interaction. Without considering the effect of lack of customer-facing employees, it would result in lost opportunities. To continue coherent customer experience, implement standard procedures to handle remote customer service smoothly.

Apart from customer experience, pay attention to scheduling conflicts. If you have multiple in-person meetings with the clients, switch them to video conferencing, so that your team can fit them into their reduced working time.

4. Unwelcomed Competition Between Remote and In-Office Employees

There are times when in-office developers will perceive their remote working colleagues to be less involved in the work. On the other hand, remote workers might feel that their office coworkers are getting better advancement opportunities since the leaders see them daily.

This Is What Impactful Engineering Leadership Looks Like

As mentioned earlier, the concept of hybrid teams is not a new one. Several organizations with multiple branches across the world have leveraged global and satellite teams for years. But the companies who are new to this hybrid in-office and work-from-home approach will face a different set of challenges due to today’s complex climate.

Due to the pandemic, leaders now need to understand and plan their strategies keeping various factors in mind – levels of risk, emotion, and compliance. Software product engineering managers should set a clear objective of what needs to be implemented, changed, and supported in such a scenario.

Key issues surfacing after mass and rapid transition to hybrid teams

  1. Reliability – Unreliable internet connection, resources that don’t fit office space quality, and a distraction-free work environment.
  2. Obligations – No lines drawn between personal and job obligations.
  3. Compliance – Continuous changes in rules and regulations across the company.
  4. Complexity – Need for upfront solutions to various nuances such as scheduling, deadlines, and more.
  5. Risks – Health risks and maintaining protocols can be challenging with multiple gray areas to look after.

As a team leader, these should be your focus areas –

1. Self-Awareness

Talk to your team about their preferences regarding their work location – where do they want to continue working (either remotely or from the office). Let them know that anyone interested to work in an office setting would require to walk an extra mile to connect with their remote coworkers. Similarly, people working from home have to combat the urge to discount work.

In a hybrid work setting, managers should really listen to their employees as they listen to their clients so that the team can achieve their end goals.

2. Purpose-Driven Decisions

It’s critical to have a vision for your team and all the members are aligned with the purpose behind operating as a hybrid team. Maintain transparent communication will all your teammates is the key to a successful hybrid setting.

3. Communication Rituals

Amidst all the chaos, keep your team intact by setting a proper communication channel. Plan a few regular meetings, majorly focused on feedback, expectations, and collaborations. This system will help them to feel comfortable while bringing up issues to you. It will also help you to make an informed decision.

4. Work Culture and Team Building

A conscious effort needs to be taken to ensure that there is no divide between the team working in the office and the one at home. Bring a cross-section of communication across all the members by taking intentional measures. Nevertheless, leaders play a key role in setting the tone for everyone, such as by the way you speak to each of your team members helps them evaluate their position in the team.

5. Personal, Professional Growth and Development

Being a manager, you should engage your team in career conversations, helping them to develop their skills and bringing growth opportunities to them. Once you ensure that your team is as invested in their personal development as their professional growth at the office, you can have one-on-one conversations with them once or twice a year.

 9 Untold Secrets to Successful Modern Engineering Leadership

Learn from experts on how to lead a hybrid software product engineering team effectively.

Secret 1: All team members should master the configurations and be well versed with the policies. Extract your data sets from Git for a better understanding of your team’s progress.

Secret 2: Teams using project management tools should not rely on them for estimated product delivery. Change your approach or tool, once you shift from planning to the development stage.

Secret 3: As a hybrid engineering team, create a shared view of real-time updates on issue statuses.

Secret 4: Focus on time management by holding time-efficient meetings, considering flexible timelines to finish the project on time, and calendar sharing for easy synchronization.

Secret 5: Developers and software engineers can increase their impact by architecting and finding solutions to increasingly complex technical problems. The problems help them grow as a technical distributor and keep them happy as a professional.

Secret 6: People who deal with the human side of the equation in your team should be offered a suitable management track. They would be highly interested in coordinating across teams, creating healthy work culture, managing a community, and many more.

Secret 7: Not all your team members have a clear sense of what they want from their jobs. In such a situation, work towards a broader engineering plan so that all your employees can be upfront about their expectations, empowering you to transform their data into an actionable strategy.

Secret 8: When you’re a technical manager, mold your hybrid work setting in a way that you can shape your team’s experience by helping find a trajectory that meets their goals and your needs simultaneously.

Secret 9: Remember, your team’s potential and capacity are directly proportional to your executional ability. Give them some degree of freedom to explore and understand their capabilities.

In conclusion, managers and team leaders should embrace the best of both worlds – work from home as well as work from the office. While the hybrid working model does come with a few disadvantages, it offers plenty of benefits. Consider a modern engineering leadership to increase the overall productivity of the software product engineering team and individual efficiencies of the members. For proven results, go ahead with an outsourced product engineering company that can align your goals with the maximum potential of your project.

Rajesh Kumar

As a SEO Specialist, I help businesses cut through the online marketing noise and achieve meaningful and measurable results using cutting-edge digital technology, compelling content management and creative strategy.

Related posts

Challenges bring the best out of us. What about you?

We love what we do so much and we're always looking for the next big challenge, the next problem to be solved, the next idea that simply needs the breath of life to become a reality. What's your challenge?