1. Decide on, and apply, your company's own culture
Before you manage a remote team, it's pretty important that you work out what your own company culture is. What are the core beliefs of your company? For example, Microsoft believes in a "growth mindset" culture, which, according to the company's website, allows it to innovate in ways that would not otherwise be possible. Microsoft also says, "through teamwork we create life-changing innovations that impact billions of lives around the world for the better."
Meanwhile, Amazon has a focus on people in its description of its company culture. It says, "at Amazon, we work with smart, passionate people who are building new products and services every day on behalf of our customers."
Whether your focus is openness, trust between colleagues, respect, consistency of delivery, or fun, it's crucial that you and your team decide what the core culture and values of your business are. This is because when you form a new team in another country, they're going to be in need of training and guidance on what it is that is expected of them, and how they can best work with their new employer.
2. Make onboarding as smooth as possible
Helping your new hires to settle into your remote engineering team is as essential as actually finding and persuading them to join in the first place. How can you make people feel welcome and part of the project as soon as they come in through the door? There are a number of things.
For one, helping your new hire to see the wider aims of the company, what their intention is, and how their work will help is going to go a long way towards integrating a new member of staff. Preparing the team, perhaps with a video call talking about the new hire and what experience they bring to the group, might ward off some of the awkward silence that can be in an office when someone new comes in.
A mentoring or 'buddy' system, particularly in startups, where senior managers are often focused on delivery above all else (meaning they sometimes lack time for social niceties), can also be of assistance. It takes some of the pressure off you or the manager of the remote team, and it means you can assign the role of forging a professional link with an individual developer to someone at your base location, meaning stronger links from day one between groups.
3. Treat your remote development team as you would any members of the organization
Talking of mentoring systems, you might be thinking that taking on a remote team means saved time and energy on the hiring and onboarding processes in your company, and while you'd be right, that doesn't mean you can step back from performing the people-related tasks that you'd expect to in your own office.
Your remote engineering team might be as many as ten time zones away, but even so, the same employee and team recognition, and the same review system for individuals and teams, has to apply. For example, if you regularly have a ceremony where you hand out 'Thank-You Awards' on successful delivery of a major project, make sure the remote software engineering team are given a chance to see this, and that they are considered for the awards.
Just because you can't see the team in the same office as you, doesn't mean you don't have a role to play in making them feel passionate about your company.
4. Keep electronic task apps updated
Thanks to the explosion in productivity apps, there are now thousands of ways to keep your team updated on goals, deliverables, and deadlines, whether they are at your base location or part of a remote development team. Whether you use Trello and Scoro, or Asana and Toggl, and whether you share content using Evernote or Google Drive, it has never been easier to set up management systems that work.
These systems only work if you keep them up to date. With your remote team sitting some hours ahead or behind you, they need to confidence to know that when they get into the office the next morning, their tasks will be ready for them, and that you have provided feedback on delivered tasks if necessary.
Clear explanations when setting tasks, and an 'open door' to queries through a messenger app such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, or Telegram, will also ensure that your remote software engineering team is up to speed with your aims, and vice versa.
5. Arrange recognition that fits the culture
A key thing to remember is that it's not only the communication of company culture that matters hugely when working with a remote engineering team - it's also finding out about the local culture of the place where your remote engineering team is situated. Base B, of course, will help you in this and all other aspects, but it's the responsibility of your company to forge lasting links with its engineers through getting to know more about their customs.
This matters for things like office hours - if a team works in Eastern Europe, they may have to contend with a long, cold winter, and so getting to the office and back home earlier than would be normal in, say, California, might be a priority.
Equally, you should remember that a remote engineering team will bring diversity to your company. This means taking into account cultural differences in everything from the emojis (or lack of them) that might be used in messaging, right through to how quickly staff get back to you, and their definition of "it'll be done soon" (for example, in South Africa, "just now" means any time in roughly the next hour, but in Ukraine it means "at this moment").
In Eastern Europe, people are often more precise and direct with language, and this can lead to misunderstandings, but it can also mean that you may be asked for more concrete instructions than you are used to giving your local team. Be aware of this, and rather than bathing your language in metaphors, be straight and honest with your thoughts - your team will thank you.
6. Give your team the tools it needs to do the job
In Base B's offices, you can be sure that your remote engineering team is working in spotlessly clean surroundings, with comfortable workspaces and a well-equipped kitchen, plus reliable video-conferencing facilities and a spacious break room.
This is all great, but as a company, you need to make sure that your remote engineering team has the tools it requires in order to deliver on the goals you set. This means computers that have the right processing power and software licenses needed for the engineering work the team must do.
It also means following up quickly on any reasonable procurement requests. Base B, of course, will assist in purchasing and procurement for your company, but the bottom line is that the parent company should listen carefully to its remote development team when it comes to hardware and software.
7. Hold regular health-checks
Arrange calls with the remote engineering team lead on a regular basis. Ensure that you are aware of any concerns the team might have, and that you're open to constructive feedback from its side, as the team will be to yours.
Health-checks, which you will also be invited to conduct with the Base B team, are your way of understanding that your remote engineering team is working in an optimal way for your company. It also allows you to correct any issues before they grow, and ensures that the team understands that there is a healthy level of communication.
Schedule these calls well in advance, and make sure they fit in with the usual office hours of your remote team.
Let the experts help. Talk to Base B about building your remote engineering team in Eastern Europe.