January 15, 2016
Working with Remote Team Members
Written by Jannette Brace
I’ve been working with large organizations where team members are in multiple locations quite a bit lately. This environment can be challenging, especially in ensuring everyone is engaged and not multitasking during Sprint Events. While there are a number of things I’ve covered in my blog “The Reality of Distributed Teams”, here are 4 specific things you can do to help build better agility with your remote teams.
- Encourage team members in similar locations to meet in a room, and not just “dial-in” from their desk.
- Builds team continuity
- Reduces the urge to multi-task
- Follows the Agile Principle “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
- Follow Sprint Event Agendas
- Ensures the team keeps on task and is not sidetracked
- Ensures we have a clear outcome to strive to for each event
- Keep to a time-box, and don’t create extra meetings to make up for not reaching the desired outcome at the end of a prescribed Sprint Event
- Use a tool like planningpoker.com to size stories
- Simultaneous Pointing – reduce influence by more senior members
- Encourages discussion to get complete understanding of stories
- Supports “team sizing” instead of “individual” sizing
- Allow for silence
- Creates an opportunity for the team to talk
- Product Owner and Scrum Master should not be doing all the talking, especially during planning. In Sprint Planning or Story Grooming/Refinement once the PO has introduced a new story, turn the meeting over to the team for questions and discussion amongst themselves. If there is awkward silence for a bit, it’s OK. Before moving on, be sure and ask if the team needs more time to discuss.
Whether your team has been together a long time or is just starting out, creating an environment for success by actively addressing remote issues is sure to add value to your team. Give these suggestions a try and let me know your successes!