10 Tips for Managing a Remote DevOps Team


The pandemic has many DevOps teams working from home. Here’s how to help your team succeed under what may be very different circumstances.

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Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

The coronavirus pandemic has placed unprecedented challenges on IT organizations, and among those challenges is the difficulty of following DevOps methodologies when team members are working from home.

Today, most enterprises have implemented at least some DevOps practices. According to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report, sponsored by Digital.ai, 76% of organizations either already have a DevOps initiative underway or plan to start one within the next 12 months. In addition, 90% of those who took part in the survey said that a DevOps transformation was important to their company, with 43% saying it was very important.

Many experts say that DevOps is easiest to implement when team members are in close proximity to one another. For example, in Continuous Delivery and DevOps — A Quickstart Guide, Paul Swartout writes, “Not having a physical presence is always a barrier.” Close collaboration is one of the defining characteristics of DevOps, and it just stands to reason that teams whose members are located close to each other will find it easier to collaborate.

Interestingly, however, survey data doesn’t always bear out expert opinion in this regard. While some studies have found that remote teams struggle with DevOps, others have found that remote DevOps teams are actually more effective. For example, a couple years ago, the 2018 Global Developer Report from GitLab found that remote teams were more likely to say they had a well-established DevOps culture and had visibility into what others were working on.

Why the apparent contradictions in the survey data?

It seems that having a collocated team or a remote team isn’t in itself likely to be the determining factor in why a particular DevOps initiative succeeds or fails. In other words, it is entirely possible to succeed with DevOps even if no one on your team is in the same building.

That’s important for the current situation, because many DevOps team members are currently working from home. A Gallup poll found that 63% of people were working from home at one point during the pandemic, and during the last week of May, only 33% of people said that they had been to their place of work in the last 24 hours. Given the nature of their work, IT professionals are more likely than many other occupations to be at home during this time.

So, what should IT leaders be doing if they want their teams to succeed with DevOps while working remotely? The following slides offer 10 tips for managing your DevOps team while you work from home.

Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio

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