Maintain an open channel!
Warning: I promote openness. Having trust is key to productiveness and creativity that are incredibly important for development teams. Nothing invites trust more than showing full transparency (while staying within boundaries of law and even policy of course). So how to keep communication open, available, easy, safe, etc?
As a bare minimum
Keep a shared written conversation open for the team. Better: keep a video channel open. Don’t close it. If you’re tired, just mute and/or turn the camera off, but allow for someone to start a conversation. Let everybody show their pet. Laugh when someone needs to get the door for the tenth time in one morning.
Why is this better?
- To me it removes much of the annoyances around finding the right person, trying to ping contacts, fiddling with settings, away statuses, disturbing during meetings, etc, etc that make remote work often frustrating.
- It allows for the subtle non-formal communication skills to work. A single look, an expression on a face can often save having another conversation and be lot more fun at the same time.
- You get a sense of what it’s like to be there, on the other side, either someone’s home or another office. Is everything ok?, Is the team member comfortable or should the team help out maybe?
The best is to provide some sort of a shared interactive screen system. In addition to just video, allow for easy pairing. There’s intellij “code with me” for instance. I’ve seen Cisco Horizon that’s very usable or even Webex that allows sharing screens and sharing control over them. This allows for much improved interaction, like you would get while working together at the office.
Once you get that to work properly, try mob programming! (not all the time obviously) That way, being on the same page with the team is guaranteed.
Have you tried any of this? What were your findings, let me know @bwijsmuller.