For software projects, I am a big believer in remote work. 100%.
However, I have never built a 100% remote team from scratch. I have always worked with developers in the office first (get to know them really well), and then have them work remotely (if they wanted to or if they moved to another country). Yesterday, I was thinking about how it would be like to onboard a remote developer that I have never met. Here are a few things that came to my mind…
Get to know the developer through calls, chat and email. This is crucial. I prefer to know the person before I start working with them - especially their working style.
Communication for work and expectations should be spot on. Don’t leave everything in email. Use Google Docs & Spreadsheets when needed to lay down the plan, specifications or notes.
Manage expectations so that we both are on the same wavelength. The developer needs to know what the end goal looks or feels like.
Weekly updates - here, I should be able to gauge efficiency and problem-solving skills. If something is taking too long, does the developer have the knack to get it resolved swiftly? Or, if work is getting done quickly, then does the code look efficient and well written?
Come to think of it, shouldn’t these rules apply to non-remote developers also :)
Because remote devs are out of sight, they sometimes are out of mind - which is a good thing. You give them the space to create their work instead of walking up to them to discuss bugs, features that they are not going to be working on this week!