Making the Shift: Experts Share How to Rapidly Build and Scale Remote Teams

It’s no mystery why remote engineering teams are on the rise. What started as a byproduct of the severe talent shortage in tech hubs and the abundance of talent around the world became standard operating procedure during the COVID-19 crisis. Now, remote engineering is a “new-normal” option that enables engineering teams to scale and to shift priorities amid changing business conditions.

When engineering leaders can’t scale their teams solely with local talent, they take a more global approach to growing their teams. Many businesses that were forced into an all-remote mode when the virus struck have found that distributed teams can be as or more productive than office-based teams, and the experience has opened the door to a lower cost (less office space) more flexible (from anywhere) way of working. Some were way ahead in this regard. Stripe opened a new engineering “hub” that is 100% remote in 2019, and more than 60% of GitHub employees work remotely.

Hiring distributed or remote engineers (we’ll use these terms interchangeably here) can be a primary strategy, or it can be used to help bring in support for in-office teams quickly and cost- effectively. But it’s not so simple to transition to a remote workforce, especially at scale. At Andela, we’ve seen firsthand that organizations face a learning curve when shifting to distributed teams.

The process comes with unique challenges that can cause major disruptions if you don’t know how to anticipate and manage them. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to starting a distributed team or successfully scaling it.

But there are a number of important steps to take both before and during the transition. We spoke with engineering leaders at high-growth startups and our own experts at Andela to get their advice and lessons learned. Whether you’re hiring remote employees for the first time or well on your way to a fully distributed workforce, here’s what you need to know about building and scaling a distributed team.

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