Gone are the days when all the employees of the company worked from the office. With the increasing penetration of high-speed internet, tech companies realize the value that remote workers bring to the firm.
The trend may have started with only a few employees working remotely, but it has definitely caught on. Distributed teams are teams where most of the employees work remotely, working from different geographical locations.
These teams are rapidly becoming the norm instead of being outliers. A diverse workforce leads to more creative thinking and therefore, better solutions to problems. Hiring a distributed tech team also gives you access to a larger and more diverse talent pool.
Distributed teams also bring a new set of challenges with them. Hiring the team, managing it and ensuring that the workflow progresses smoothly requires careful planning and talented staff.
To reap all the benefits of hiring a distributed team, you need to start filtering the applicants right from the interview stage. The skills that a remote employee and a regular employee must have are vastly different.
Here are the top skills to check when hiring your distributed tech team.
With multiple employees working on a large block of code from multiple locations, you need a way to ensure that only high-quality and bug-free code is integrated into the end product. Github is an excellent way to guarantee this.
Every time a piece of code needs to be added into the product, the code should be reviewed by someone who was not involved in writing it. The reviewer will go through the code line by line to weed out any issues.
Github pull requests and code reviews are part of a tech team's daily routine. They assume more importance when it comes to a distributed tech team. Since the team is not located in the same office, Github may be the only way to guarantee the quality of the code.
Every new hire should have some basic knowledge of Github's pull requests, code reviews and other such features. You can check if their ValueCoders profile lists Github or if they have mentioned GitHub in their resume. If they haven't, then you can also ask them about it during the interview if the candidate is a match on all fronts except for this.
Data is the most important commodity in every tech enterprise, and its security is paramount. When the data is being accessed from locations outside the office, the possibility of a data leak increases manifold.
Every member of the distributed tech team must have some basic knowledge of cybersecurity. They should know safe practices and the importance of following company security policies while accessing sensitive information.
Cybersecurity has become an indispensable skill set in today's world, owing to the rising number of cyberattacks. Your potential employee doesn't have to be an expert, but be aware of some of the fundamentals.
Knowledge of Testing Tools
Every product in the tech world today consists of thousands of lines of code. It has become impossibly inefficient to separate the developer and the tester. Therefore, every member of the tech team is responsible for testing their own code.
You must check if the prospective employee has previous experience or knowledge of working with testing tools such as Selenium, TestComplete, IBM Rational Functional Tester, etc. If you are using a particular testing tool, then you must check for their knowledge of that tool.
You can even check their Toptal review to gauge the quality of the code and the extent of testing they do on each product. A lot of good reviews are indicative of the fact that the candidate tested their product thoroughly and removed any errors before sending it to the client.
Ability to Modularize Problems
Every tech team works on a large problem as a whole. However, the problem is usually broken down into smaller parts. Each team member works on one of those parts at any given time. Almost every coding problem or software product can be viewed as a set of multiple smaller blocks.
You need to hire people who have the ability to look at a large problem and modularize it. When a new problem comes up, they will be able to contribute to modularizing it.
Not only will it help the whole team, but it will also aid each member's coding process. It will help them gain a better understanding of the product and guide their coding philosophy.
The best way to check this is to give them an imaginary development scenario and ask them how they would approach it. If the candidate starts by analyzing the needs and then breaking down the problem into smaller, easily manageable chunks, then you have a winner.
Impeccable Communication Skills
A distributed team will communicate using emails, documents, user manuals, and calls. Since there won't be any face to face conversation, the documentation and emails must convey all the information accurately as miscommunication can be costly.
Communication skills, both verbal and written, become indispensable in this scenario. All the team members must be able to put their thoughts into writing, clearly and unambiguously.
You can check this during the screening stage by asking the applicant to summarize certain requirements or document a conversation.
Apart from this, the team members must also communicate with each other proactively. They must provide regular status updates, inform the team about any changes in the product and provide appropriate clarifications regarding the work when needed.
Data Science and Analytics
Data science has permeated into every industry. Every enterprise either already has a data science-based product or is looking to incorporate data science to improve their product.
You are selecting employees who would stay with you in the long run. Therefore, you must check their knowledge of data science fundamentals. If the fundamentals are in place, you can build on them when the need arises.
However, training someone with no background in data science to work on a data science product would be incredibly difficult.
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Hiring a distributed tech team may require a bit more consideration, but the end results are worth the extra effort. As with anything else, a look at their previous work experience and reviews by previous clients will tell you most of what you need to know before making the hiring decision.