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 (delivery methods -if you’re not familiar, it’s worth your time).
So what are some ways we can be as co-located as possible while still respecting social distancing? In this article we’re going to 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: If you aren’t already running a daily standup, you’re absolutely are missing out on an opportunity to touch base with everyone before you all begin 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 from yesterday, 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. So as crazy as it sounds next time you run a daily standup 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 and have everyone yell out the company (or team) name followed by, “What are we gonna do!? …Kick Ass!!” -repeated 3 or 4 times for effect.
Tip two: Have a daily stand-down meeting. They’re so very few teams out there that actually have a stand down meeting, but it’s just as important as a stand-up because it’s 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: It’s also very important have a stand down because it’s 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 effect your team and its ability to focus and drive quality results in the long-term. So 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, and this is going to really help your team not only capture lessons learned and Implement them tomorrow, but it’ll ensure everyone keeps mentally healthy by enjoying time with family.
Second Pro Tip: it’s our sincere wish that your family looks back on this time in ten years as the few weeks where Mommy or Daddy didn’t have to wake up early, and you got to eat dinner with them every night. Look at this as an opportunity, 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: As you go remote there’s some motivation aspects to the job which are going to become much more nuanced that would be the case if you were all in the same office building together. By that I mean when you’re in an office you can see each other face-to-face, and now you can’t.
Such a high percentage of communication is nonverbal that it necessitates that the visual component of communication stays with us. So as you host your meetings make it known to everyone on the team that their video camera needs to be on so everyone can effectively collaborate with one another and communicate much more than they would if everyone was just sitting on a call with the mute button engaged.
Tip Four: In keeping with the theme of the agile Manifesto let’s bring up for a second the tenant with in manifesto speaking directly to “people over process”.
Now when we’re all bottled up next to each other with desks that are adjacent this is mostly fine because if anything goes wrong, we can literally stand up and come together to troubleshoot a problem. However, when we’re working on our own and not in a meeting bridge having a process through which delivery occurs is very essential.
Why? Well because even when things are going correctly your teammates to your left and right need to know where you are at any given time in the process and where they should be within the same process at the same time. If there is no process that won’t occur and you will have a lot more defects, trouble, and rework then you would if you had simply had a process to begin with. So, while people are very important, communicating expectations with those people, especially while they’re all remote, is more important.
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 all this misery together, ha-ha. So, try out having a virtual happy hour one afternoon. Try having a virtual team lunch where everyone sits down turns on their webcam and breaks bread together. 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 are We?
If you haven’t been reading our blogs or your first-time reader, welcome! We are 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, have quality problems, or need help doing more with less let us know. Use the contact form on this site to reach out to us and we’ll help you hit your release dates with style and grace.