Managing a remote PHP team can be tricky work. 

But it doesn’t have to be an unmanageable nightmare. 

Here are 10 tips on how you can manage remote PHP developers.

1. Be clear about your expectations and vision.

Before you even start a project or hire PHP developers, this is the one thing that will define your success going forward. 

Make sure you have a crystal clear vision of what you want and how you want to execute it. 

Then be sure to clearly and accurately communicate it to your team. Use a video presentation, images, references, examples, drawings, or whatever you need to get your plan and strategy across to them. 

Pro tip: A common mistake many managers make is to not let their team in on the big picture goal, the backstory, the mission, and the priorities of the project. 

Without this nuanced understanding of what you want, it is hard for your team of remote PHP developers to execute your vision. 

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Lack of clear communication is the #1 cause of misunderstandings and conflicts in teams, whether remote or in-person. 

Not just that, without a planned communication strategy, your project stands to be disrupted and delayed. 

And without regular communication, you will never be able to form a real connection with your remote developers. A good rapport with your remote team will boost your engagement rates, and in turn, ensure high productivity from your team. 

In fact, according to research, companies with high employee engagement rates are 21% more profitable than those without. And these numbers don’t change when for remote teams.

So how do you communicate effectively when managing remote PHP developers? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Have an online chat portal where your team can reach out to you for daily updates, check-ins, or small discussions.
  • Have regular (weekly) video calls with your team to check in on the progress and celebrate the wins. 
  • Build trust and have open communication lines. Let your team know they can always approach you.
  • If possible, bring your team together once or twice a year. (Yes, it’s an expensive affair and beats the point of remote work. But the kind of connection that is formed over a physical bonding trip is unmatched.)
  • Above all, if an issue escalates with your developer, don’t jump to conclusions. Have an open, honest conversation with them and peacefully get to the bottom of it. 

3. Have the right communication tools and software setup.

Having the right tools in place makes all the difference when it comes to managing a remote team. And email just doesn’t cut it anymore.

You will need a mix of tools to keep things smooth. 

The basic ones you will need are:

  • An instant text messaging tool (like Slack) for daily communications.
  • A platform for regular one-on-one and team video meetings, that also allow for screen shares. (ex: Zoom, Teams, etc.)
  • An online project management tool, where daily, weeks and monthly tasks and goals can be delegated (like Basecamp, Asana, etc.).
  • A shared online cloud database to store common files, docs, and projects (like Google Drive and Dropbox).

4. Have a realistic schedule and timelines.

Developers are usually strong left-brained people. They work best when they have a clear picture of what to expect, work schedule, project timelines, deadlines, etc.

So establish clearly defined roles for every developer on the team. Make sure they are clear on their responsibilities. 

Next, have a realistic project roadmap and schedule, with breathing space for any glitches or redos. Plan time for the mess-ups, and you will save yourself a lot of stress and hassle down the line when something inevitably goes wrong.

And finally, make sure your team is aware of the project deadlines, as well as their individual deadlines. 

Pro tip: Be mindful of any cultural holidays that are important to your remote developers, while planning the project schedule. 

This will earn you some brownie points from your team and will avoid a sudden onslaught of leave applications during crunch time.

5. Provide constructive feedback.

Regular, constructive feedback is essential to ensure the project is moving in the right direction. 

Here are some things to keep in mind while giving your PHP developer feedback on the project:

  • Avoid calling out individuals for their faults in a team meeting. Talk to them one-on-one instead.
  • Always start by acknowledging and appreciating all their positive wins.
  • Be detailed and specific in your feedback, so they know exactly what’s working and what’s not.
  • Don’t let your emotions take over. Be patient and keep your feedback constructive, i.e.: focus on what can be done to fix the mistake, or improve the situation. 
  • Give them a chance to respond and explain themselves too. 

6. Open yourself up to feedback too.

There’s no one right way to manage remote PHP developers, and ensure you get the best results for your project. 

But there is one sure-shot rule that is followed by everyone who wants a flawless project, delivered on time… Listening to the developer’s feedback too. 

Here’s the thing. You’re probably great at managing projects. But you are likely not a PHP expert. Your remote developer, on the other hand, is.

They will have worked on multiple projects in the past and know all the tricks of the trade. So when they make certain suggestions about the strategy, execution, or process, you would do well to pay attention to them.

Not only will this ensure the success of your project, but it will also make your developer feel like they are truly a part of the team! 

7. Make the most of time zone differences.

Just because your remote developers are located in a different time zone, doesn’t mean managing them has to get harder for you.

Instead, make the most of the time zone differences, and schedule your work accordingly. 

If their local time is ahead of yours, then you can conveniently start your day by reviewing their day’s work. 

And if you live ahead of them, then you can take this opportunity to close your day with a morning briefing for them. 

If you really feel the need for a few common hours, then be strategic and ensure it doesn’t disrupt either of your freedom and comfort too much. 

For example, you could overlap your schedules for a few hours, 1-2 days of the week; and work in your own timezones the rest of the time.

8. Avoid micromanaging

Remote PHP developers tend to be independent, self-motivated employees, who value their autonomy. They usually work best when they are left alone to do their work in peace.  

In fact, the freedom of figuring it out on their own allows them to get creative and innovative in their problem-solving. It also gives them a sense of ownership and improves job satisfaction levels too!

Any attempts at micromanaging their work will only result in slowed-down progress and raise frustration levels. 

This can be extra difficult if you also have a background as a developer. But be patient, and practice trusting your team. 

To make it easier, schedule check-in meetings with your PHP developers ahead of time, and then stay out of their hair the rest of the time.

9. Consider having an NDA in place.

Although they may be remote, a PHP developer’s work in a company is as intimate as it gets. They know the ins and out of your algorithm, have access to your proprietary code and other confidential project information. 

So it is best to have an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in place. 

And no, NDA’s aren’t just for massive corporates. Most small to mid-sized companies also have NDA’s to protect their intellectual property. 

But remember to be upfront about the NDA and make sure your remote PHP developer is comfortable with all the details ahead of time.

10. Appreciate and celebrate their progress.

A little appreciation goes a long way when it comes to the team you are managing. 

According to a survey by Hubspot, 69% of employees said they’d work harder if they were better appreciated.

So the next time you have a review meeting, be generous with your appreciation of a job well done. 

Take a minute to send a personal congratulatory email, celebrate progress, and if possible even send them a small goodie bag for the big milestones. 

These small gestures add up over time and big difference in how your remote PHP developer shows up at work.