Working From Home Because of COVID-19? Here’s How You Can Stay Agile. | Bridge Blog

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The worldwide eruption of Covid-19 has forced companies across the globe to roll out mandatory remote work. A host of technology and fintech multinationals, start-ups, and e-commerce majors have introduced ‘work from home’ policies taking into account the well-being of their employees.

There are even concerns if this would lead to a situation wherein the employees would never return to office even after the pandemic is wiped out as they are so much in love with the ‘ home working ‘ pattern.

Many software companies, who have given work from home opportunities to their employees, are worried about how effective the work will be. They are secretly worrying about if the new habit will destroy their Agile nature and will they cease to be an Agile software development team.

Being a successful Distributed Agile Software Development Team for more than 15 years, we have an immense stock of knowledge on how to be effective Agile software development teams in a scenario where even the collocated teams are asked to be remote. Read to know some very productive tips to work from home effectively.

Agile and Face-to-Face Collaboration

Before analyzing the reasons behind why dispersed teams can be highly Agile and productive, let’s have a quick look at why there is a misconception about agility and remote working. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development states that “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation”.

This principle stayed valid as it was originally envisioned for teams that are physically located in the same office. Early agile teams were intended to work together in close proximity.

After all, Agile means flexibility, and if it can’t lessen its rigid stand on face-to-face communication in an emergency, the model is no longer agile. The only precaution is that you need to ensure that everything is planned in advance and your team functions well before offering the remote worker facility to all.

All You Need to Know While Making Your Remote Team Agile will give you further insights into it.

Dispersed Teams Can Be Highly Agile & Productive. Here’s How?

1. Invest in good corporate communication tools — There is nothing worse than dropped calls or bad audio when you are communicating with your team or your client who is sitting on the other side of the planet. Good communication tools enable face to face communication even though you are sitting apart.

You can talk face to face uninterruptedly with GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype, Uber Conference, etc. Invest in tools that enable high-quality conference phones, video conferencing, document sharing, etc.

2. Use great Collaboration and Project Management Tools -Your teams can be more productive and efficient while working from home, given your team is using great project management tools. It prevents your teammates from being trapped in isolated silos.

Make sure that all are well-versed in using some of the best online collaboration, organization, and team management tools such as Slack, Zoom, HipChat, Flowdock, GitHub, Trello, Intercom, Asana, Jira etc. Dropbox, Zapier, and Google Drive are great organizers and information-sharing medium for your team’s stuff. All of them are not required. But make use of the best ones to foster camaraderie within your team. Read more about some popular tools for Agile Project Management.

3. Stick to the schedule, organize meetings, and stay responsible — Distance should not be an excuse to become less accountable/responsible. Each team member should participate in the decision making process when challenges arise. Conduct short daily video calls and keep the team liable for the work assigned. Ensure that the meetings are used to share insights, and to set clear agendas. Clearly define the Definition of Done, guidelines for filling bug reports, and troubleshooting how-tos. Make it a habit to meet daily targets which helps you reach closer to the ultimate goal. Always keep in mind that Agile is all about quick execution and quick releases.

4. Having an amicable team is more important — It’s a myth that collocated teams will have improved communication. Collaboration can greatly suffer even when all team members are sitting in the same space but are not ready to open up, communicate, and tackle issues instantaneously. Every team has its own unique constraints and short-comings. Learning to address each issue by offering basic interaction and person to person acknowledgement through the latest communication technologies can do wonders.

Nurturing open communication and human rapport can make things better. Through continuous evaluation, constant adaptation, and effective retrospectives, you can reach a solution that works. Instilling an Agile attitude is the basic requirement to be iterative/incremental and constantly ready to evolve.

Conclusion

Being on the same page, not necessarily in the same room is what is needed for the effective functioning of Agile software development team. If you can foster healthy, connected, and productive agile remote teams, smother ride is guaranteed even in Coronavirus-induced emergencies.

Managing a remote team is an art in itself. Here’s a precious collection of eBooks on remote team management by the distributed agile expert Hugo Messer.

Originally published at https://www.bridge-global.com on March 18, 2020.

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