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11 January 2024 - 6 minutes

Remote Collaboration in DevOps: Tools and Best Practices

Learn how to make the most of your DevOPs team while working remotely. 

Juliette Erath - Tech Writer

DevOps & Cloud

In our increasingly remote-friendly society, the need for proper remote collaboration has grown significantly; if colleagues aren’t able to speak in person while they work on the same project or meet up frequently for quick check-ins, issues can go unnoticed and cause major problems later on. And for companies that employ DevOps practices, the need for quality collaboration is even higher when working remotely–in a mindset that requires that many different people do their parts simultaneously, the team needs to be on the same page throughout the entire process. 

It can pose quite the challenge: without the ability to work in the same room or share ideas vocally on the go, are companies even able to employ DevOps practices? And if they are, how much extra effort does it take on behalf of the project manager to check up on the progress of each individual team member and their tasks remotely? 

In this article, we’ll discuss the unique challenges that remote DevOps teams face when working remotely and some of our favorite tips and tricks for mastering remote collaboration. 

What is DevOps?

To understand the specific problems that can arise during DevOps projects, we need to have a clear definition of what DevOps is and how DevOps teams differ from other remote teams. In an ever-changing world where more and more professionals are involved in a project’s timeline and tech is moving at such a rapid pace that projects need to be released quickly, DevOps uses close collaboration and frequent check-ins to work on all parts of the project at the same time, saving time and resources by identifying problems before it’s too late to correct them. 

Two of the main aspects of DevOps are collaboration and communication, which are complicated when teams aren’t in the same place, able to chat frequently and check in on each other. Therefore, establishing proper practices is a key part of ensuring your DevOps team is working correctly and efficiently. Let’s dive right into remote DevOps and what to expect if you choose this as your career path. 

Remote DevOps: How Does it Work?

The functions of remote and in-person DevOps professionals are largely the same: work as part of a team to achieve the desired outcome, checking in constantly with your team members throughout the lifecycle of the project. Where remote DevOps roles differ, however, is with how you communicate with your colleagues; if you’re working remotely, you’ll have to rely on chats, emails, phone calls, or video calls to meet up and check in, which can complicate the process.

Working remotely on a DevOps team will require more focus placed on communication and collaboration; instead of working on your own and delivering your specific tasks as scheduled, you’ll have to find the best ways to communicate virtually with your team to ensure everything is going smoothly. And in the case of a problem, the entire team will need to be around and online to help find the solution.

Although it seems like in-person DevOps teams are the way to go, and we won’t deny that things might flow smoother if everyone is in the same room, the rise of remote working can’t be disputed and many companies are looking to attract and retain talent through flexible and remote policies, leading to a need for remote DevOps professionals who are up for the challenge. 

Tools and Best Practices for Remote DevOps

If you’re intrigued by remote DevOps and are looking for the right way to dive in, you’re in the right place. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when either joining a remote DevOps team or managing one.

Practice smart communication 

The very first step a remote DevOps team should take is establishing communication guidelines and boundaries; for example, are team members to use email if they have a question or is asking someone to hop on a call preferred? Or is sending a quick Slack message better? We can’t answer these questions for you because they depend on your specific team and project, but setting up clear communication guidelines early on can help maximize efficiency and avoid feelings of frustration from colleagues. 

Guarantee a safe work environment

Especially in the tech industry, remote teams usually have team members from across the world, which can mean different time zones and different cultural backgrounds. And when all interactions are had in writing or over video calls, important non-verbal communication cues can be lost, such as body language or jokes. To ensure that all team members feel comfortable and respected, keep a close eye on how the team interacts with each other and bring attention to any issue that arises. 

Find the best collaboration tools for your team

As DevOps becomes more popular, more and more remote collaboration tools are coming to the table, allowing teams to transform their projects. But there are a lot of options out there and you’ll need to evaluate a few different things before deciding on just one. For example, you’ll need to ensure that your remote workers can use the tool, if they’re on different devices or public/private networks. 

Another important organizational aspect is establishing a regular series of meetings, especially if you have employees in different time zones. This will help give team members a sense of organization and structure, even when working remotely and ensure that everyone will get together to check on the project’s progress.

Promote flexibility 

A major reason that people choose tech is its flexibility and working on a DevOps team shouldn’t mean that flexibility isn’t an option–respect your colleagues’ time outside of work hours and don’t ask them to work more just because they’re already at home. And if someone needs additional flexibility because of familial or personal reasons, work with them to ensure they don’t slow down the team and get what they need.

Remote DevOps teams are gaining popularity and they’ll soon be the norm–are you up for the challenge? We certainly are. 

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