Agile teams consist of a small group of individuals. It is important to keep the teams small to maximize productivity, flexibility, and quality. The people on the team are as important, if not more important than the processes they follow. This is because they are the ones getting the work done and if they do not produce, the project will be at risk of failure. In traditional Agile practices, face-to-face interaction is preferred but with the modern-day setup of many businesses, it has become common practice to have remote teams.
While Agile teams are usually part of the same company, there are situations where team members may not all be in the same location. In these situations where team members are remote, the dynamic of how the team works together will be different from those who see each other at the office every day. As a result, the way remote teams interact may be a bit different since they rely heavily on virtual communication methods.
If you are new to working with remote Agile teams, here are 3 tips that can help you with your team.
Take the time to get to know your team
Building personal connections with team members is important. There should be positive team morale among members. Getting to know your team and building strong bonds with them will, in turn, build trust. One way to accomplish this is by having regularly scheduled video conference calls where team members can see and speak to each other. Putting a face to the person you are working with helps close the gap on the distance. Your virtual face-to-face interaction with this person will let you see their expressions and body language, which in turn can help drive the conversation better.
Set standards and expectations for the team
Before the start of a project, the team should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This can be as simple as a bulleted list of expectations and standards, such as tools used for communication and document sharing. For example, you could state that the team is required to partake in virtual daily stand-ups, or, the team is expected to not take more than 24 hours to respond to communication outreach. Setting the standards and expectations beforehand gives the team a premise to work from.
Incorporate a culture that the team can be a part of
Many times remote teams are not included or partake in various company traditions or processes that make up the company culture. This is understandable since bringing them to a group outing, for example, is practically impossible. However, there will be some things they can be present for, even if it is virtually.
If the company has quarterly town hall meetings, the virtual team should be given a means to attend via video. If the company is doing a themed holiday event, there is nothing wrong with having a short video call with the virtual team to see them in their costumes or even encouraging them to send in photos of their costumes that can be shared on the company’s social media. Every quarter, the company could host retreats in different locations that give the remote team an opportunity to meet the rest of the in-house staff. Any processes or company guidelines to be followed should be shared with the remote team as well.
We are social creatures and tend to be more positive when we are included in things and don’t feel like we are left out or forgotten. The remote team is very much a part of the company as the in-house staff.
In conclusion, the baseline to success with remote teams is keeping a steady flow of communication open between team members and building the necessary connections, so team members feel included and motivated to do the work they have been assigned.