5 mins

In partnership with

Why communication, curiosity, ownership, urgency, and cultural sensitivity are all essential for remote management success.

The rise of remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed hiring managers and engineering leaders beyond the boundaries of geography. In this new era, the most sought-after skills are those that empower engineers to thrive in remote, diverse, and dynamic work environments.


The evolution of soft skills 

Companies used to think of soft skills as a nice to have, but really valued technical prowess first and foremost. As a result, they hired software engineers whose talent remained largely untapped because they often worked in uncollaborative, difficult work environments. 

Today, companies understand that soft skills are an essential ingredient for building dynamic and successful remote engineering teams. The five most important soft skills to look for are: 

  • Effective communication

Many people struggle showcasing their work in a remote environment. To effectively collaborate, individuals must excel at articulating ideas clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing. Managers can encourage this skill by creating opportunities for people to share their work, whether through daily standups or journaling. This not only helps individuals organize their tasks, but also allows colleagues to stay informed, preventing misalignments and promoting collaboration by enabling team members to offer assistance when needed.

  • Proactive ownership and accountability

This skill is all about being proactive rather than reactive, taking charge of your work and ensuring its successful completion. It involves anticipating needs, identifying opportunities for improvement, and actively seeking solutions to challenges. Proactive owners manage their responsibilities and make themselves accountable for their actions and outcomes. Managers play a crucial role by setting an example, demonstrating proactive behavior in their own work and decision-making processes.

  • A sense of urgency

A healthy sense of urgency is essential for effective remote teams.This means individuals can prioritize tasksmanage their time effectively, and meet deadlines without constant supervision. Managers can promote a sense of urgency in remote teams by ensuring that deadlines and expectations are communicated clearly, taking into account time zone differences to give team members ample time to complete tasks. This involves scheduling meetings and setting deadlines in consideration of varying time zones, allowing for effective communication and coordination across the team.

  • Cultural sensitivity

Global teams require strong cultural awareness and sensitivity to foster a positive working environment. Emphasizing camaraderie and the ability to maintain friendships despite individual differences helps create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. Individuals can contribute by actively listening, remaining open-minded, and embracing diverse perspectives. Managers play a vital role in promoting this mindset by providing support, facilitating open communication, and leading by example. 

  • Desire for continuous learning

Technology evolves swiftly and engineers must show constant intellectual curiosity and a desire to upskill. Managers can promote continuous learning by providing employees with access to courses, reading materials, or by encouraging them to dedicate one day a week to personal research. This support enables individuals to stay updated with the latest advancements and expand their skill sets.

In recognition of this need to balance soft and technical skills, X-Team has developed a  thorough vetting process which ensures that engineers have a track record of success in distributed teams and can bring these valuable skills to the table before we place them. 

Hard skills remain paramount 

That being said, having good coverage of technical skills is still vital when it comes to building high-performing remote engineering teams. While the specific technical requirements can vary depending on individual roles and projects, some core competencies consistently top the list for hiring managers. These include:

Essential development approaches 

  • Agile methodologies: Understanding and applying agile principles is still paramount to ensure efficient project management in a dynamic environment. 
  • Git version control: Proficiency in Git enables seamless collaboration and code management across dispersed teams. 
  • DevOps culture: Embracing a DevOps mindset fosters collaboration between development and operations teams, ensuring a streamlined workflow and efficient deployments.
  • Cloud and serverless technologies: Expertise in cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud provides scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness for remote development. 

Evolving technical landscape 

  • JavaScript frameworks and libraries: React, Angular, Vue.js, and Node.js are currently dominating the JavaScript landscape, offering efficient and robust solutions for building modern web applications. 
  • Cross-platform development tools: Technologies like React Native and Flutter are highly sought-after for effective distributed collaboration. These tools enable developers to build mobile applications for both Android and iOS platforms from a single codebase, fostering greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness in remote development teams. 
  • Machine learning (ML) and data engineering: The rapid surge of artificial intelligence (AI) has fueled the demand for professionals skilled in ML and data engineering. Expertise in these areas allows teams to extract valuable insights from data, automate tasks, and build AI into their applications. 
  • Golang: Although not yet as ubiquitous as some other languages, Golang is making waves in specific niches, particularly with its focus on simplicity and efficiency. Understanding its potential can be valuable for teams building robust and scalable software solutions. 
  • Legacy technologies: While PHP, Java, and .NET (among others) are not necessarily the most in-demand, these established languages still power a significant portion of the internet. They offer proven capabilities and large established communities, making them valuable skills for specific projects and maintenance needs. 

The path to success for engineering managers 

Engineering leaders and hiring managers looking to build robust remote teams must adapt their hiring and management strategies in 2024. 

  • Focus on skills, not location: Expand your talent pool by prioritizing talent, regardless of an engineer's location. 
  • Assess soft skills as rigorously as technical skills: Interviewing and assessment techniques should uncover a candidate's communication style, adaptability, and ability to embrace cultural diversity. The way in which someone describes positive and negative situations can reveal important insights, such as whether they acknowledge their team's contributions or not. How candidates talk about themselves can also provide valuable clues about their adaptability and openness to learning. Look for signs of humility, such as a willingness to delegate tasks and an openness to different perspectives and problem-solving approaches. By paying attention to these details, recruiters can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's soft skills and suitability for the role.
  • Build a culture of trust and autonomy: Remote teams need a foundation of trust and psychological safety. Provide clear objectives, and empower engineers with the freedom to do their best work.


Building a successful remote engineering team requires a focus beyond technical expertise. In 2024 and beyond, the engineers destined to make the greatest impact will be those who pair technical excellence with the people skills needed for successful remote work. 

Working with X-Team allows engineering leaders to access top talent armed with the technical and people skills that align perfectly with your project needs and company culture. Find out more at X-Team.com.