17th March 2020

5 Tips for Running Agile Teams Remotely

Jordan Edmunds

Jordan Edmunds
Head of Sales

Running Agile Teams Remotely

Agile projects are fast-paced and highly collaborative by nature.

Traditionally, agile teams have held separate workspaces with large open tables littered with post-it notes, encouraging cohesion and developing a team environment in which to produce consistently faster results of higher quality.

So, how is it possible to achieve this level of collaboration across remote teams?

Below are 5 Tips for Running Agile Teams Remotely to find out more!

1. Be Consistently on Time

One sure-fire method of causing frustration and confusion amongst team members is failing to stick to the sprint schedule.

Whether this is dedicated scrum meetings such as Planning, Review or Retrospective, or the daily scrum sessions, your team will need to ensure that these meetings run consistently.

Ensure that every member of the team is invited to the same calendar appointment, and the meeting starts on time, regardless of absentees. Team members will think twice about letting the side down, and starting without them will enable the rest of the team to progress, without the hold up of one individual.

Be sure to timebox your meetings to prevent any overrun. Agile meetings need discipline to operate effectively, so ensure that your meetings are succinct and do not extend beyond your allotted time slot. Any follow-up items can be treated separately outside of the meeting.

2. Regular Communication

With the traditional agile workspace involving multiple whiteboards, kanban boards and post-it notes, it’s often easy to overlook how much daily communication is held between team members. With remote teams, it might seem easy to silo away and work independently until tasks are completed, but you’re missing out!

Teams must learn to communicate constantly throughout the sprint, whether they work remotely or in the office. Why not try one large video conference for all team members to sit in throughout the day. This can just sit in a browser tab with the microphone on mute in between questions, but will be the quickest way to get in touch with your teammates for those short, one-off questions,

Ongoing communication throughout the sprint will work best with a platform enabled for collaborative working. Tools such as Google Hangouts or Zoom provide a quick and easy method to replace those short, 5 minute catch-ups over coffee. Make sure your team upskill on using these tools before making the move to remote.

3. Cameras On

With remote meetings, it’s much easier to let yourself get distracted.

Spending a couple of minutes checking emails, finishing up a bit of leftover work, or running to make a brew, are all interruptions that take you away from the topic and provide an extra burden on team members.

All agile meetings should operate with your web cameras active. You and your teammates are now accountable for each other’s actions and can be reassured that everyone is on the same page throughout.

4. Use the Right Tools to Collaborate

Your toolset must be accessible for all team members when working remotely. It needs to function to replace the day-to-day interactions held between teammates, as well as support the ongoing development effort and performance monitoring expected of the organisation.

For project management, you may use established tools such as Jira or Trello to provide visibility across your team, as well as across the organisation, to ensure that work is completed effectively, and in priority order. This will likely make use of the same toolset used internally, however, there is more expectation on team members to keep this up to date to ensure consistent visibility.

For your retrospectives, you may need to try a new set of tools. Collaboration via a remote workforce works well with tools such as Miro, which allow your team members to interact with one another over virtual whiteboards and provide the cohesive retrospectives which continue to drive best practices forward.

Just because you’re unable to work around the same table, that does not mean your ongoing team improvement should have to suffer.

5. Maintain the Scrum Values

Moving to remote working for your agile team should not impact the approach taken towards their ongoing work. Teams should still adhere to the 5 Scrum Values throughout their remote working.

Commitment must be shown by all team members to continue to deliver high quality results, attend required meetings and help develop as both an individual as well as a team.

Courage from team members who need to reach out for help via a Slack message, or start a Hangouts session with a more experienced member of the team should be encouraged.

Focus towards achieving the sprint objective and mastering the team goals must always be held. This may require some additional attention during daily scrum meetings to ensure that the goal is well embedded in the minds of all participants.

Openness is more important than ever in a remote working environment. Where visibility is reduced and temptation potentially increased, team members must remain open about their working practices, as well as share any challenges or rewards which present themselves throughout the sprint.

Respect must be had across team members working remotely to ensure that the team cohesion is strong. Levels of patience and support amongst team members, via video conferencing, or instant messaging, must be high to ensure that each individual is able to achieve their objectives as well as the goals of the team.

With any agile process, there is no hard and fast answer for getting your processes right.

Why not get started with remote working today, and begin building on what works well for your team.

Soon, you’ll start to see the benefits remote working with agile teams can bring to your organisation and can start to scale out your procedures to maximise the impact.

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