Essential Ingredients For a Remote DevOps Team

Enterprise business processes are run on evolving applications, and the DevOps team needs to be as efficient as the applications they create. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on DevOps productivity—and that impact hasn’t always been positive.

Tracking the performance of the DevOps team has become more challenging in a remote and hybrid world. Like everyone else, developers have become remote workers throughout the pandemic which means adapting to a new way of working. There has been a lot of research done on the impact of work-from-home on productivity. Of course, measuring any developer’s productivity was already a complex task. It’s not as though you can use a simple metric like the number of lines of code produced per day; it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Working from home has made it even more challenging for developers to stay productive. There are dozens of distractions when you work from home, and research shows that it can take even the most skilled developer 15 to 20 minutes to resume work once they have been interrupted. There’s also more stress associated with balancing work and home life when working remotely. According to Catalyst92% of workers say they are feeling burnout from the stress of remote work.

Software Development Thrives on Remote Work

In many ways, the trend remote work has been a windfall toward developers. The nature of coding has always lent itself to a hybrid or remote work environment, but unfounded concerns about securing intellectual property have always been an impediment.

A recent Gartner survey revealed that employees are three times more likely to become high performers when given flexibility as to where, how, and when they work. Remote work also enhances flexibility and eliminates wasted time commuting. And work-from-home reduces childcare responsibilities. Catalyst found that 32% of women with child-care concerns are less likely to leave their jobs if they have work-from-home as an option.

Remote work also eliminates geographic barriers, which is a well-understood benefit in the software industry. Being able to hire programmers working from home anywhere in the world increases the size of the talent pool and makes it easier to find developers with the right skillset.

Of course, there are challenges for DevOps teams that embrace a remote work model. Communication is probably the biggest challenge. Zoom meetings may not be as effective as in-person meetings since it’s harder to read facial expressions and pick up non-verbal cues. It’s up to the team leader or senior manager to promote effective communications. It’s also important to have the right tools, have the right communications channels and maintain respectful interactions. Even with a remote work environment, the team dynamic can be adversely affected by the misuse of responsibility, behavioral issues and disrespectful behavior.

Building a Remote DevOps Team

Supporting collaboration in a hybrid work environment requires new processes, new guidelines and new tools. The best place to start is by choosing the right collaboration platforms and procedures. For example, email is a poor channel for immediate requests, but you don’t want to be answering continuous phone calls. Establish protocols for using email, chat, teleconferences and meetings. Adopting cloud communications tools also gives you more agility and scalability.

When choosing the right collaboration tools consider security. Working off-site gives you less control over enterprise access. Remote workers access enterprise systems using different devices and public and private networks. To reduce vulnerability to cyberattacks provide safe and secure network access with multiple security layers. Adopt virtual private networking (VPNs), remote desktop protocol (RDP) clients, and malware protection. Workers tend to be less security conscious when working remotely so take what steps you can to reduce risk.

In addition to having the right tools, you must have the right approach. To continuously improve efficiency you need transparency, inspection and adaptation, just as you do with DevOps. Start by establishing and documenting a clear set of expectations for the remote team. Also, create a leadership hierarchy. Even though they are working from home, everyone needs a work structure. It’s up to the team leaders to create a stable work environment. Lack of clarity removes that of structure and safety and can sense the team.

Maintaining transparency is the best approach for any remote work culture. Establishing a workplace fueled by honesty and openness and where every voice is heard ensures everyone is working to achieve a common goal and keeps morale high.

Maintaining a successful remote work environment depends on respecting the four Cs: Communication, collaboration, connectivity and culture. The four Cs are interdependent and work together to create an effective digital work environment, providing an employee experience across locations, devices, channels and situations.

Creating a Productive Environment

Once you have laid the foundation for remote collaboration, the next step is to monitor productivity. There are a few ways to look at DevOps team productivity. You can look at the final output of the overall effort, assessing the application that is the end product. You also can measure overall team productivity.

To monitor key metrics to assess team productivity, project managers must be prepared to drill down to evaluate hot spots:

  • Measure output for specific developers and see how it stacks up against the productivity of other team members.
  • Maintain leaderboards highlighting top contributors. Using gamification creates healthy competition and can inspire greater productivity when top performance is recognized.
  • Create a conducive environment by providing the right set of tools and motivating engineers to be at their best.
  • Monitor distractions. Coding is an intensive activity and disruptions harm productivity.

Don’t measure productivity based on coding. Developer contributions also include designing new features, functional discussions, code review, documentation, testing and bug fixes, meeting with customers and other tasks.

Improving DevOps productivity is also a product of automation. In addition to streamlining real-time collaboration with tools such as instant messaging and Microsoft Teams, shortening development time with automated testing tools and AI-powered test frameworks eliminates manual processes and frees time for more productive tasks.

If you are looking for a silver lining from the pandemic, consider the evolution of the remote work environment. Supporting remote DevOps developers is nothing new, but forcing employees to work from home has made the hybrid work environment more efficient. DevOps teams continue to invent better ways of working that promote flexible work hours, higher productivity and a better work-life balance.

Leave a Comment