How to Manage a Remote Engineering Design Team of Freelancers

How to Manage a Remote Engineering Design Team of Freelancers

As the saying goes, a team is a reflection of its leadership, which plays directly into your favor to strategically manage any workforce from the ground up, whether it is concentrated in an office setting or handling a remote team.

Running a successful business hinges on the foundation of team management, which translates to rallying a pool of talent or building on an already established system by onboarding new talent to the mix. With the global economy redefining the bounds of integrative workspaces across the digital surface, freelancing is the revolutionary startup for the future.

Although freelancing is generally recognized as a source of making extra income or for the select number who claim full-time rank status, remote work is part and parcel to engineering design services. With freelancing opportunities projected to climb over the next decade, outsourcing project requirements is a viable approach to optimizing creative potential from committed engineers utilizing intuitive CAD-based design software for everything from conceptualization to creating a finished prototype.

While a distributed team can sound like a rogue task force operating under a decentralized base, the gig economy is a fast-growing enterprise with plenty of available resources and tools to connect you with the top specialists. In accomplishing this goal, Cad Crowd provides a springboard for connecting CAD services with clients from different industries to facilitate architectural design, customizable specifications, and the manufacturing of projects. 

Key Elements to Managing a Remote Engineering Design Team

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With the gig economy continuing to gain traction as the power struggle between working independently versus reporting to a traditional day job begins, remote working is becoming a favorable career path. According to Randstad’s 2017 Talent Trends report, a 20–30 percent ratio of the U.S. and European population is freelancing, with an upswell of digital professionals hoping to proffer on their own with discretionary projects looking ahead. 

Communication

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Managing a distributed workforce can seem challenging, which is why frequent contact is grounded in keeping employees in-the-know about the latest tasks and current status of ongoing project assignments. If you’re managing a large-scale firm or subcontracting remote work to a small team of freelance engineers, communication is the legs on which a company moves forward.

The good news is that the field of engineering is synonymous with freelancing as a host of team and project management tools are available to make your collaborative project assignments more efficient and productive. A few common examples include Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, among many other interface app platforms that keep employees engaged through file sharing, instant messaging, and video conferencing calls.

Since the engineering design process categorically falls into a DIY-format, it is recommended to incorporate a virtual arena for engineers to meet both on a formal and informal level to balance work with play to boost morale. For a better chance at project success, holding regular virtual team meetings is crucial to set the stage for an open forum of exchanging ideas, bouncing off information, and doing point-by-point rundowns of projects—an effective way to buffer the workload with facetime.

Logistically, the prospects for freelancing gigs are systematically rooted in forging partnerships with the best engineers moving from their traditional day jobs into the digital sphere. Based on that fact, establishing guidelines tailored around seemingly conflicting factors such as time zone overlaps, busy schedules, and culture are essential. The last detail will require you to double down on embracing cross-cultural differences considering that a remote team policy is likely to have far-reaching inclusivity. It can seem daunting, but keeping abreast with international holidays and adopting a neutral voice when communicating is a handy frame of reference via emails, video conferencing sessions, or any primary form of contact.

Hiring a Solid Team

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When managing a remote team, there is no handbook for always securing the right candidate for any position, so it works to your advantage in fielding your tryouts. This can be tricky whether it applies to overseeing a team at a traditional worksite or managing a remote team of engineers. Just like previous experience on a resume is a common denominator to impress an employer, as a team manager, previous gig work can give you the footing to make an informed decision for a strategic tie-up with the best engineers in the digital realm.

Remote Team Equals Self-Starters

Of course, managers still have to relinquish a degree of control over to 3D modeling freelancers because, after all, they’re the ones given the bulk of the work to complete. This approach can be difficult when it requires taking a step back and giving the reins to your distributed workforce to utilize self-discipline, initiative, and motivation in the absence of a project manager or team members for support in an office space. Nonetheless, many mechanical engineers are transitioning to remote work to offer their services, which gives them the autonomy of flexible schedules from home or any location and the ability to pocket more money.

The perks associated with a remote position are arguably intriguing, but it’s not without its downsides too, those being employment instability, lack of benefits, and social isolation. The first two aspects are malleable factors based on the number of gigs a freelancer or independent contractor decides to take on coupled with the personal decision to have medical coverage. The last element is a more controllable aspect of how you manage your remote team through an interactive community platform and a rewards-based system.

A regular vote of confidence gives a distributed workforce the grit it deserves and needs to keep the momentum going to sustain a position against competitors. And with more engineers parlaying work material through freelancing gigs, maintaining a virtual line of communication with your remote team is essential to keep a seamless flow of design projects going.

Multicultural Diversity

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In the freelancing sphere, embracing change just so happens to come with the territory, particularly when that territorial divide extends on an international scale. You may not be culturally literate, through no fault of your own, as more businesses continue to push outside geographical boundaries to secure the best engineers.

And while a face-to-face connection stands on its own merits as the hallmark approach for verbal and non-verbal exchanges, it’s not always possible with a remote team. As mentioned before, different time zones can pose a hitch for virtual meetings, but these are easily adaptable by rotating video conference calls to accommodate project team member schedules. More importantly, having awareness about cultural distinctions in an ethnocentric world can easily blur the line between making a legitimate connection or inadvertently offending a remote team member.

Team Management Tools

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As more people venture into freelancing gigs, communication relies on the interplay of open-ended discussions and group chat sessions to set the stage between project managers and team members. Laying down some basic rules can help you efficiently manage a distributed team that emphasizes company goals and objectives to reach targeted endpoints.

Time management software can be a smart investment that allows you to track the progress and productivity of different project plans at random intervals. For example, Time Doctor is a valuable resource that contains automated features such as preset work hours and screenshot queues to ensure that your remote team remains aligned with tasks.

And don’t forget about constant positive feedback. You can never stint on enough praise! In fact, according to an Entrepreneur report, companies that fail to make communication and motivation a top priority can deal a significant blow to its strategy map affecting productivity and output, which in turn, can stall the bottom line.

Freelance Connections

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Unlike a physical office setting, it’s going to take some dutiful planning to coordinate a distributed workforce, especially in between dry spells of little to no work, to bolster team morale. Following a rewards-based system gives your employees an incentive to capitalize on their milestones for the mutual benefit of satisfying clientele and expanding your business.

However, remote work still falls on the shoulders of the freelancer who is responsible for self-perpetuating careers with networking being a launchpad to promote themselves by joining the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to start. When you manage a remote team, arranging social events serves as a great outlet to plugging engineers together; for example, attending trade shows is a way to showcase work and garner a reputation. For this reason, Cad Crowd funnels its creative talent of designers and engineers through contests (crowdsourcing), displaying their work for prize money, also, tapping into a network of ongoing project assignments with repeat clients. 

One thing is clear, a groundswell of engineers are taking their game to the next level as freelancing gigs become the norm. With this summary article, there are plenty of tools and resources available on the web to quantitatively manage your remote team of engineers and Cad Crowd can help propel you in that direction.  

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