Before the Pandemic hit the world by surprise, Agile teams worked really well together in close groups working in the same physical spaces. Now the question remains: are agile teams still as effective and efficient, but now as remote teams? Switching to remote work has challenged the management of Agile teams and everyone had to learn to readjust to this new way of working. However, with the right technology, a remote Agile team can produce just as much as before going remote. In this article, we will discuss the actions that are needed to support the adjustments of the people and culture of remote Agile teams. 

Supporting The Adjustments To Remote Agile Teams

Work culture before the shift to fully remote working was considered a more trusted community because of the in-person events and physical bonding with colleagues. It’s important to create an Agile unified team that bonds together over a project. Teams that already were working remotely had an advantage before the world health crisis, but teams that had to abruptly switch to remote were facing new challenges. 

It will take time and experimentation to make agile work for remote teams. Team members have to discover the ideal technology to help adjust to communication to ensure team productivity, collaboration, and quality. 

Challenges that arise for distributed software teams:

  • Building rapport when everyone is not located at the same office.
  • Scheduling meetings online with teams.
  • Coordinating across different time zones.
  • Understanding of different development cultures.

Utilize The Right Tools And Equipment For Remote Workspace

Working remotely means you have to create the ideal work environment for you, your company, and your team. Find an area where there are no distractions. Invest in everything you need for a productive and comfortable workspace. Keep in mind work disciplines, workspace, equipment, network, and tools. 

Some challenges to change will not become clear until after you begin. For example, if you have poor connectivity, you might need to relocate the wireless router or switch to a wired connection. You may notice the location of your desk needs to be moved if you are doing frequent video calling. It’s important to remind roommates and family members that you are still working even though you are at home. 

Restructure Workplace Norms And Rules

It’s a good idea to utilize virtual whiteboards, instant messaging, and video conferencing to create a collaborative environment. These tools can also help promote team member participation among groups. Although these tools are supposed to help the new remote work environment, they come with their challenges of restructuring the norms and rules of the remote workplace. 

It’s important for team members to be considerate to each other, because some organizations may require individuals to adjust to new tools on their own. This could be challenging for many workers who are not familiar with new technology. Team members who are well versed in these new technical tools should be willing to help adjust others to help them succeed and overall help the team succeed. 

Teams should allow personal productivity for each individual. However, it’s also important to have more personal interactions with team members. For example, a team can use video conferencing to schedule meetings, but before jumping into the business each member can quickly catch up and have conversations other than work. This can help mimic a face-to-face relationship. 

Organizations should be considerate and respectful of personal privacy. Working from home can be tricky when establishing a professional and personal work environment. Some team members may feel uncomfortable on video due to their workspace appearance. They also may be sharing their workspace with others, so it’s important to be considerate of their challenges. It’s a good idea for all teams to set their own boundaries around scheduling and their use of video.

Create A New Way Of Team Bonding

Before remote work, Agile teams benefited from team lunches, coffee breaks, and after-work socials. Now with remote teams, all of them in-person physical interactions have to be redesigned to fit virtual settings. Consider showing personal items in your home to get conversations flowing, for example showing off your pets. It’s essential to allow a comfortable sharing environment to ensure every team member feels comfortable just like they would in person. 

Some examples to use for team bonding virtually to support the morale and shape a shared experience virtually:

  • Virtual happy hours- Sharing beverages and allowing members to speak about anything other than work. 
  • Team Trivia- Games to test team members’ knowledge about one another. 
  • Baking/Cook-off challenge- each team member suits up in an apron and virtually challenges one another to a bake-off. 

A New Way Of Developing & Coaching

As a coach or team leader, agile remote teams should reflect the way things were done in person. For example, one on one coaching may have been done in the break room over coffee, now remote coaching can be done with coffee just over video. It’s encouraging to have all team members use their video to virtually connect as if they were face-to-face. 

Being a coach virtually always comes with its challenges. It’s a good idea to set up time slots to allow team members to connect via video conference to go over anything they may need help with. Many people prefer one on one help with their team leads versus group collaboration. It’s helpful to adapt to coaching in a virtual setting because people have different ways of communicating online versus in person.  

Remote work sometimes means flexibility with working hours. It’s essential to check in with team members on a regular basis to make sure everyone is well aware of their roles and tasks. Team leads should frequently ask team members if there’s anything they need to improve their productivity and happiness. 

Team leads and managers from different team groups should connect regularly to discuss best practices for remote teams. Talking about their experiences and issues may help get ideas to other leaders. Sharing and collaborating on ways to improve their agile teams for remote use could be beneficial to the entire group. 

Team Engagement During Long Meetings

A big challenge with remote-working agile teams is keeping everyone motivated and avoiding burnout, especially during long meetings. Agile teams are used to face-to-face communication and frequent interpersonal engagement. Multitasking online and home distractions also affect a remote Agile team member. 

Remote Agile teams will be tempted to replicate the exact way things were operated in person. However, what worked in the office setting will not always work remotely or isn’t even necessary to perform. A helpful tip is to work backwards. Figure out what outcomes worked then apply that to a virtual setting. Remember to adapt to all situations rather than sticking to a guide. 

Team leaders have suggested ways to keep team members engaged to not lose work morale throughout the day. For example, allowing breaks in between long meetings. Or breaking down group meetings into smaller ones, to make discussions easier. This mimics the way teams would interact in person. 

Agile From a Distance

At K2 Partnering Solutions, we know that a product or project is only as good as the team that is building it. If there’s no cohesion within the team, then the work suffers. If you’re looking to improve your development projects or train your teams to work better from a distance, we can help. Our team of specialists, technical experts, and enterprise solutions consultants have years of experience in delivering custom solutions, complex migrations, and software development – all requiring unique project management methodologies and KPIs. 

Having been at the forefront of technology and talent for over 20 years, with world-class solutions at our fingertips, we help businesses to innovate and grow. With a worldwide network of locations, we have a global reach, but local expertise to deliver first-class technology solutions and unparalleled industry knowledge to our clients. 

Contact us today to take advantage of our expertise in managing remote project management teams.