The IT world in many ways has a very serious leg-up on other industries as we all experiment with new ways to be remote during social distancing.
That said, those of us who strictly follow the Agile Manifesto know that co-located teams are a core component of Agile and Scrum.
So, what are some ways we can be as co-located as possible while still respecting social distancing? In this article we explore some tips and tricks on how to remain close without being physically next to each other.
We hope this inspires you and motivates your team during an otherwise uncertain time.
Tip one: Daily Stand-up. If you aren’t already running a daily stand-up, you’re missing out on an opportunity to touch base with everyone before beginning work for the day. Stand-ups are a great opportunity to prioritize urgent tasks, check in with everyone to see what blockers might still be in place, or pass out motivational news to the rest of the team.
On that last point, motivation is a key component in a good stand-up, and building energy for the rest of the day begins with a cheerleading exercise. As crazy as it sounds, next time you run a daily stand-up in your Zoom or Skype call try getting creative with a motivational chant. A la “The Wolf of Wall Street” or perhaps try implementing what Home Depot does for its associates each day – everyone yells out the company (or team) name followed by, “What are we gonna do!? …Kick Ass!!” -repeated 3 or 4 times for effect.
Tip two: Daily Stand-down. They’re so few teams out there that actually have a stand-down meeting. Just as important as stand-ups, they’re the part of the daily process where you capture outcomes and lessons learned. Especially now that we can’t physically be next to each other, it’s important to capture what was done that day for each team member and get a sense of where everyone is before leaving work.
Pro Tip: Stand-downs are also important because they’re a divider between work and family time. Normally this is separated by a commute, but now that we’re all remote there’s the temptation to continue working into the evening and night.
Over time this will lead to burnout, and it’ll affect your team and its ability to focus and drive quality results in the long-term. By offering your team a stand-down, it acts as a demarcation point in the day between what’s considered work and what should be considered family time.
Second Pro Tip: It’s our sincere wish that your family looks back on this time in ten years as the few months where Mommy or Daddy didn’t have to wake up early and was home for dinner every night. Look at this as an opportunity to not just do a great job for your work, but also enjoy watching your family grow up a little bit more than you usually would be able to.
Tip three: Cameras On. Communication is about more than just spoken words, and now that you’re not in-person at an office, it can be challenging to read body language and facial expressions. That’s why we recommend asking your team to have cameras on during video chat meetings. It allows for team members to collaborate with one another and stay more engaged, rather than sitting off camera on mute.
Tip Four: People over Process In keeping with the theme of the Agile Manifesto let’s speak directly to the tenant of “people over process”.
When we’re all bottled up next to each other in adjacent desks, if anything goes wrong, we can literally come together to troubleshoot the problem. However, because we’re all working on our own, it’s essential to have some kind of capability to overcome the fact that we’re not co-located. Whether it’s via a tool or a communication process, don’t forget to check in with your people, more-so than you did before.
Tip Five: Have fun! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you would be crazy not to have fun while we go through this misery together. Try out having a virtual happy hour one afternoon, or a virtual lunch. Even better, try throwing a motivational event like crazy hat day or dress like a superhero day.
Humor is an amazing motivational tool, and through motivation we know you’ll see higher quality code and more productive teams.
Who We Are
If you’re a first-time reader, welcome! We’re a group of software quality assurance professionals, and we help companies create, implement, and optimize quality within their software development work.
So, if you’re experiencing buggy software, quality problems, or need help doing more with less, reach out to us!