This is a question I often hear from people when they are dealing with a distributed team; whether it a team of software developers or anything else. For some it is more difficult to feel comfortable with the fact that work is getting done when they cannot see the people doing the actual work.Â Hopefully there should be better ways of feeling comfortable with a remote team delivering than phyiscally seeing them sitting at a desk from 8:00am to 9:00pm.
Usually what I ask people when I hear this type of a comment is, “How do you know persons in your office are working?” Surprisingly the answer is not, because I see them working, but rather, “because they are getting work done!”.Â Well it is the same when you are dealing with a distributed team.Â
If you have agreed a schedule for delivery (and frequent deliveries) with your remote software engineering team, and they are meeting that schedule and delivering quality work, they are most likely working.
There are things you can do to help build that trust, that your team is working, as quickly as possible.Â If you are working with a brand new team, make your deliveries very frequent, even within the first week, have daily deliveries. A day’s delivery may be an updated work plan for the project, or a design document for a part of the work, etc., it is less important what the daily delivery is, than having work delivered every day that was agreed to.Â Daily conversations are also very important at this stage as well.
As trust is built, while the team is delivering as they said they would, it should become less important to physically “see” that all workers are at their desk between 8:00am and 9:00pm.Â