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Key #1 to Remote Application Development: Collaboration

Sambit Ghosh | | August 18, 2020

According to a survey by Gartner, 88 percent of companies have encouraged or required employees to work from home since March 2020. Application development is already challenging enough in the best of times—so how can you handle it when your entire development team is suddenly working from home?

Although remote work might be new to you, it’s not new to us: our applications development teams have been remote since Datavail was founded. With more than a decade of experience, we’d like to share the three keys to successful appdev in a remote workplace. Key #1? Collaboration.

Having strong processes and tools for collaboration, including dedicated collaboration platforms, is non-negotiable when doing remote application development. The research of professor Karen Sobel-Lojeski has shown that there are three kinds of “distance” that remote teams need to overcome for effective collaboration:

  • Physical distance: the barriers posed by team members’ different locations and time zones.
  • Operational distance: difficulties owing to the logistics of remote work, including the number of team members and the processes, methods, and tools used to collaborate.
  • Affinity distance: the challenges of building relationships, rapport, and trust between team members in different locations.

 
By choosing the right collaboration solution, you can overcome these distances and start enabling remote AppDev. The heart of every successful remote team is a “digital workplace” that acts as the central hub of communication and collaboration. Whether they’re working from home, in the office, or on their daily commute, digital workplaces allow your employees to share ideas and ask questions, manage files and documents, and much more.

Here at Datavail, we use technologies such as Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint to help foster collaboration among our remote AppDev teams. Office 365 comes packed with collaboration features such as:

  • Office 365 Groups, for creating ad hoc groups of users with their own shared inbox, calendar, and file repository.
  • Microsoft Planner, for assigning and scheduling tasks among team members.
  • Office Delve, for finding and discovering important information across the Microsoft ecosystem.

 
SharePoint is also an invaluable collaboration tool. Employees can create SharePoint “instances” that are restricted to members of a given team or group. Once created, these SharePoint instances serve as central repositories for file storage, instant messaging, video chat, calendars and planning, and more.

Managing remote workers is a delicate balance. Team leaders need to give people the solutions and the independence they need to thrive, while providing opportunities for collaboration and team synergy.

Want to learn more strategies for successful remote appdev? Download my white paper, The 3 Keys to Successful Remote Application Development.

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