Molood joins us in the special LIVE Q&A episode to talk about Distributed Agile software development and many tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for teams that just recently moved to a #Remote-first work setting.
Scrum Masters often have to face cultural anti-patterns when working with teams, and the organizations they are part of. Those cultural anti-patterns are being amplified by the move to #Remote work due to the #covid19 situation.
What can we do? How can we get ready?
Here are some tips to get you started or to help you further adapt to this new reality.
Lack of transparency is even worse when #Remote
There are many Scrum Masters that come on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast and share stories that relate to a culturally-engrained lack of transparency. This lack of transparency takes many forms:
- Team members don’t share their struggles in the Daily Standup because they perceive that as a sign of weakness (for example)
- Product Owners don’t share the reasons why certain changes are brought into the Sprint, perhaps because they themselves don’t know
- Other teams we collaborate with don’t share changes to a dependency we have on them
Whatever symptoms of lack of transparency you experienced when working in the same office, those symptoms will only get worse when our organization moves to #Remote work. Some of the reasons are:
- Individuals are less engaged and motivated due to the stress, or being distracted by the presence of children while they work, or because they don’t see (and therefore don’t take into account) their colleagues during the day
- Sudden tasks or priority shifts are communicated to individuals, and the rest of the team isn’t physically present to witness that change
- Now that we’re distributed we miss out on all the spontaneous collaboration that used to happen.
Tips for Scrum Masters to increase transparency and foster collaboration
As Scrum Masters, we must be deliberate about improving transparency and collaboration in #Remote teams. Our domain of expertise is collaboration, and we must keep adapting to enable collaboration at all times. Here are some tips, that may help you improve transparency, information sharing, and collaboration between team members and with other teams:
- Have a collective retrospective with the teams on which your team has regular dependencies
- Discuss with the Product Owner how to share changes to the Sprint so that all team members are aware and can share their possible impact on the work they have to finish
- Move to a shorter Sprint. Agile is about creating more, and faster, feedback loops. As we go #Remote those feedback loops are even more important. Shorter sprints provide more transparency (problems are found faster), makes the amount of work smaller which helps with clarity (shorter stories), and with identifying and solving process problems in the team, and across teams
- Have 2 daily check-ins
Quick tip for #Remote #Scrum Masters: Have 2 check-ins / day. One at the start of shared work hours, and one closer to the end of shared work hours. Make the second an “informal” check-in (e.g.: ask each team member to bring their favourite drink and enable video).
— Vasco Duarte (@duarte_vasco) March 30, 2020
- Integrate more often. If you are integrating with dependant teams at the end of the Sprint, consider bringing their work into your daily build pipeline, or assign specific team members on both teams to work on integration from the start of the sprint
- Track dependencies on other teams just like you would a User Story. Understanding of dependencies will grow during the Sprint. Make sure you are covering that dependency on the Daily Standup if nothing else to learn that “everything is proceeding according to plan”
- Create an URGENT Slack/Teams channel, so that team members can always explicitly ask for help to solve a problem they are facing. When #Remote, even waiting one more day can make the problem harder to find.
When we are #Remote, collaboration and cooperation are harder to achieve, and transparency can be a critical trigger for that collaboration to flourish. Consider what you can do as a Scrum Master to improve collaboration. Every day.
Stay Safe, #StayHome
More tips, and more insights from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast
We have started a page to help you deal with the reality of #Remote work. Bookmark this page to easily access all the tips we share related to #Remote work. In this page you will find blog posts, as well as links to the YouTube videos of our LIVE Q&A sessions with #Remote work experts!
Many of us are going #Remote because of the #covid19 situation world-wide. In this very special episode we cover tips, tricks and techniques on how Scrum Masters can help their teams go #Remote to thrive, not just survive.
In this episode, we mention a treasure trove of resources to help you in your adaptation to #Remote work. You can find those below
Resources for going #Remote and Distributed Agile teams
We started a survey to collect your biggest challenges when it comes to transitioning to remote work. You can submit your answers here.
From that survey, the early results are conclusive, one of the biggest challenges you are facing right now is to help your teams coordinate their work, and collaborate effectively after transitioning to #Remote work.
So, to help you adapt to this new #Remote work reality, we collected the following strategies and tools for helping #Remote teams coordinate and collaborate effectively.
Scrum is #Remote ready, especially this one tool…
Read on for the full list…
Many of us have started to work from home while our children are also at home, which presents additional challenges. Here’s a collected list of tips from our listeners on Twitter. You are not alone! Many others like you are working from home with kids!
Stay calm, be empathic with your colleagues
One of the most important rules when working from home is to respect each other, we are all in the same situation, we are all getting started in our #Remote work journey. A simple practice that will help you with this is to tell your self: “We are all figuring it out,” she said. “It might get a little messy.” Yes! It will, sometimes, get messy. But it will also improve over time.
Be understanding with your colleagues, give the example and say also to them at the start of your next call: “We are all figuring it out,” she said. “It might get a little messy.”
Use your mute button generously, but accept when the noise comes from the other side! Have a post-it ready to remind your colleagues they are not on mute. Be kind, though 🙂
Pay attention to your children. You’ve gained time, give it to them
Our previous Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast guest and listener Bola Adesope reminds us that we have gained time by not having to commute. It’s only fair that you dedicate that time to your children. You will all benefit. In Bola’s own words:
I work from my home office. Have lunch together and engage mine with some books and other electronics to play games and learn new things. I am signing her up for an online class (fun class) tomorrow. It also helps with bonding as I save about 2 hours of commute time daily
— Bola Adesope, PMP (@bolaadesope) March 16, 2020
Lunch together, breakfast together, reading books
— melsop74 ??????? (@melsop74) March 16, 2020
Talk to your partner/spouse. Agree on how you will help each other
Many of you are working from home with your spouse or partner. You are probably both in the same situation, so talk early about how to handle the situation.
Daniel suggests ~2 hours shifts, talk about it, and agree on what would work for you.
We’re setting shifts a bit more flexibly according to meeting schedules but yeah, more or less 2 hours each. And 100% agree on the second part. Also important to adjust them externally to workmates and clients.
— Daniel García (@gulfuroth) March 16, 2020
Another tip is to share your work meetings calendar with your spouse/partner and try to help each other. You may try to book meetings when one of the adults in the house is not having another meeting (if possible).
In any case, don’t forget: be empathic with your spouse/partner too! You are both going through the same experience.
Anna has a slightly different approach, she suggests short bursts (more likely to work with smaller children), it’s a bit like the famous Pomodoro technique (which some already call Mozarella technique because “Pomodoro” apparently have been trademarked ??♂️)
That is a great challenge, not with older kids, but with the youngest. What we are trying now is something like Pomodoro but with longer breaks work. We ask for uninterrupted time for 30-45 mins. And then reconnect. And repeat…
— Anna Zalucka (@annazalucka) March 17, 2020
Adjust your expectations, but know that you are learning and improving as you go
Rene reminds us:
My wife and I will try two-hour shifts. Other than that, drastically lower expectations on what you can do on a day.
— René Wiersma (@Rene_Wiersma) March 16, 2020
Remember, this is what being empathic towards others and yourself means! However, you are an Agilist! You also know that you will be adapting and improving over time. Stay with it.
Create a routine of reflection, individually and with your partner/spouse. And if your kids are old enough include them in that reflection. They will benefit from your example and will learn to be deliberate about reflecting and adapting to novel situations in their lives.
Help your children learn and practice skills at home, it’s a win/win!
The final tip comes from Paul:
Drawing, how to draw things from internet he has his ipad and practices different drawings. Reading different kind of books. Also watching the plants grow :))
— Horvath Paul Oliver (@paul8620) March 16, 2020
Do your children already want to practice a skill? Maybe playing the piano or guitar? Or learn how to draw? Help them out. Buy them an internet course, and let them practice. Those skills will be beneficial immediately for you, and in the future for them! It’s a win/win!
What other techniques and approaches have worked for you? Share your learnings below in the comments!
Stay healthy, #stayhome and enjoy your children!