Wade Foster, co-founder of Zapier, a company of 36 fully distributed members, in his Ultimate Guide to Remote Working said that running a fully remote team forces you to build more systems and processes, to grow up more quickly, to be more disciplined. One of these disciplines is evaluating performance. In distributed teams the “noise” of seeing co-workers show up to work, personality biases, etc. do not exist. Performance evaluations need to be based on metrics.
- number of commits, pull requests
- # bugs
- # tickets/issues handled (with perhaps a weighting involved)
- contribution to sprint reviews
- participation in written forums
Managers worry: “if I let my team work remotely, how do I know they’re working?” The answer is to setup reporting mechanisms. Then you know. When you assign work, that work needs to have a reporting mechanism attached to it, so you know it was done.
Developing a culture of accountability begins with processes. For example, Wade Foster explains that in Zapier, they have “Friday Updates”, where every person on the team posts an update about what they shipped. The idea is adapted from Scrum Sprint Reviews. In Agile, teams aim for a shippable product at the end of each sprint.