Dealing With the 5 Biggest Challenges in Agile Remote Teams | Will Jeffrey | Skillshare

Dealing With the 5 Biggest Challenges in Agile Remote Teams

Will Jeffrey, Professional Agile Coach

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9 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Course Overview

    • 2. Defining Distributed Teams

    • 3. Communicating Within Distributed Teams

    • 4. Challenge #1: Building Relationships

    • 5. Challenge #2: Establishing Communication

    • 6. Challenge #3: Reinstating Body Languages

    • 7. Challenge #4: Fostering Osmotic Communication

    • 8. Challenge #5: Handling Meetings

    • 9. Wrapping Up


About This Class

Distributed teams make it extremely difficult to judge the body language, have one-on-one conversations
or even stop by a colleague's desk.

This leads to rework, stress, and missed deadlines.

Goal of this class:

  • Unlock the power of your agile distributed team

You will learn:

  • Traits of distributed teams (aka remote teams, home office, online scrum teams)
  • Differences of communication between co-located & distributed teams
  • How to build relationships
  • How to establish communication
  • How to reinstate the body language
  • Why osmotic communication is important
  • How to improve meetings


1. Course Overview: Hi, everyone. My name is Will Jeffrey and welcome to my course, dealing with challenges and agile distributed teams. I am an agile coach, helping teams to get better and doing what they love. Akala Gated scrum team is ideal for andro projects, however, sometimes it is impossible for a scrum team to work together in one place. Distributed teams exist for many reasons and in different forms. More often than not, challenges arise when the people that you're working with are not located in the same office. Distributed teams pose a major challenge to organizations as they rely on good communication to thrive. It's extremely difficult in a distributed team to judge the body language, have one on one conversations or even stop by a colleague's desk. In addition, it is not possible to read emotions, pick up clues or even feel the energy inside a room beyond the scope of a colleague's webcam. In this course, you're going to learn how to deal with these challenges related to distributed teams. Some of the major topics we will cover include understand what is a distributed team. No differences between communicating with a distributed team and communicating with a local team how to build relationships despite the distance, how to establish communication, inefficient ways, why and how to reinstate the body language in team communications. What is osmotic communication and why should you care and how have productive meetings within a distributed team? 2. Defining Distributed Teams: By definition, distributed development is difficult due to the tyranny of distance. In fact, in the early days of agile adoption, some purists believe that agility and distributed development could not coexist. Going by this principle, the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is via face to face conversation. Distributed development is a reality today and, in most cases, a necessity due to some very convincing reasons. Despite all the advancements in technology related to communication and collaboration of virtual teams, distributed development still faces challenges as people are not in the same room. What do we mean by distributed teams? You can consider your team a distributed team if the team members are not sitting in the same office building one of the different types of distributed teams. Satellite workers occur when you have most of the team co located but a few members working remotely either from home or in another office. Our remote first team is one where everyone works in a separate location, usually from home, and that's all. Communication occurs online. One of the different types of distributed teams. What conclusion can we draw based on what we discussed, many teams could be considered a distributed team. According to the 12th State of Agile survey, 79% of respondents had at least some distributed teams practicing agile. When it comes to distributed teams, they might have different configurations and settings, but they all have the same court challenges to face. The next section will explore this. 3. Communicating Within Distributed Teams: How does communicating with a distributed team differ from communicating with a local team ? In many ways, it is not different at all, and in other ways it is very different. On an individual level, members of distributed teams lack face time in the office. Face time with your colleagues allows you the opportunity to bond and chitchat about things that matter to you. Because remote team members like face time, we do not have the same chance to build strong bonds as those who see each other regularly , resulting in a week or understanding of one another's motives. Even if we use videoconferencing to see each other, we missed the emotional cues at the project level. We miss chatting at the coffee machine about the task we are working on together. We missed the brainstorming sessions about the product we're creating in the clients were serving. This lack of face to face communication has a strong impact on the level of understanding that remote team members have about the product, its purpose and the clients who use it at an organizational level. We missed the inspiration gain from talking with the company's CEO over a beer it Friday night gatherings. We missed the way the core values of the company influence the behavior of the people working within the onshore office. To bridge these divides, we need to give more thought to remote communication. When we communicate with people in our office who are from the same culture, we do not experience I conversational barriers. However, when we speak with remote colleagues who are from another country, we have to think more deeply about the forms, media and levels of communication we choose in the next sections. We're going to cover the following challenges one. Build relationships to establish communication free body language for osmotic communication . Five meetings 4. Challenge #1: Building Relationships: Let's start with the first challenge. Build relationships in an office. You can get to know a new team or a new team member by heading over to their desk and introducing yourself with a distributed team, though this becomes a lot more difficult. How do you do this when there's no desk to go to? Let's see how we can build relationships within a distributed team. Get together in person times a time. People should travel and meet physically a recommended practice as at least once a year, either with an in person visit or with a workshop. Any new team members should meet in person. The team shortly during in person visits or workshops. Organize a social event to create and strengthen the relationships between members. Use retrospective activities to build relationships and connections between team members. At the set. The stage phase of retrospective meetings peak in activity that helps get everyone to introduce themselves and get to know each other. Do it when a new member has joined the team or just regularly. This can help break the ice and get everyone on an even keel. Stay in regular contact with your team members. Communication isn't just about contacting your team member. When you have instructions or need answers, it's about making them feel valued, too. Scrum, master's or project managers should try to stay touch with remote members. For example, a call once a day in distributed teams. Junior developers couldn't see what other developers were doing. They were afraid to interrupt. They frozen got stuck until much later, when they were explicitly asked what they were doing. Regular contacts will help socialize and connect in any office environment. Not all communication will be about work related matters. Workers like to have a quick chat around the water cooler about things they do outside of work. This doesn't change just because you have many team members working from home or from different office locations. See whether it's possible to a lot. Sometimes before, after certain meetings for small talk, set up a dedicated channel or chat to socialize and connect with each other in an informal way 5. Challenge #2: Establishing Communication: second challenge established communication. What has happened when you want to establish communication with a teammate in an office? It's straightforward. Joe turns his head. Jack. I have a question remotely. It's not that easy, Joe asks. Jack, are you there? Yes, I am. Let's chat. Okay, Joe sets up his video call. Joe waits. Jack joins. Call Joe asks. Why do you feel we need to do it? Jack looks to speak, Jack. You're muted over. Communicate if your remote or working with remote teammates when you want to know what your teammates are working on, you cannot just walk over to their desk as a remote. It's easy to just disappear. If you want people to know about your works, you have to be proactive. Over communicating will keep everyone on the same page. Avoid surprises. And if you're the sole remote worker, remind everyone that you're still there. Remember to over communicate about everything if you're going to deliver late, if you have extra time. If you're waiting on something if you need something, communication tools make a good use of communication tools. Slack Microsoft teams emails whats app. Scrum masters and facilitators should become experts in all the communication tools that are available in their organization get to know all the useful functions of these tools so that their teams can use them quickly and effectively in their meetings and help their teammates to make a good use of them. Share calendars, be transparent about when you plan to work and when you will be away. No matter what tool you use Shared calendar chat emails. Everyone needs to know when a teammate is available or not. Let your team set boundaries. Sometimes team members will need to take a break from the rest of the team in order to get something done. The problem with this is that online you're always contact herbal. Set a rule with your team that if they need to go silent for a while, they can ask them to tell you how long they'll be gone and give them the space they need. 6. Challenge #3: Reinstating Body Languages: reinstating body language is is the third challenge. Consider this example that might happen in a meeting room. Joe asks. Do we all agree with this proposal? It's fine by me. I would like to hear from Frog. He doesn't look to agree. You're right. I'm not sure we should decide. Today, thanks to Frank's body language, Jack has observed that Franck was not really an agreement. One of the benefits of face to face communication is the live feed back translated through the body language and facial expressions. Let's consider the same situation. But with Franck, who is attending the meeting remotely this time. Do we all agree with this proposal? I think we need everyone to agree because it's too important. John and Frank speak at the same time. Frank, you first. No, please, Go ahead. John. I think this proposal is fine by me. Okay. I'm happy to see we can move forward. May I say, Joe who didn't hear front continues. So the next item on our agenda is remote. Communication can distort the normal pace of our conversations. The delay between our messages can often postpone or hide emotional reactions to our comments Hence and distributed teams. We should always figure out ways to increase the face to face communication time. How to do so. Choose video calls when possible. Video calls are the closest thing you'll get to in person meetings with your remote team actually seeing each other encourages productivity and staying on task. Improve the experience. Here are some tips to have a better experience. Look into the camera that is equivalent of looking into the other person's eyes. Mute yourself. We're not speaking to avoid distractions from background noise or echo. Ensure your technology works correctly. For example, by making a test call. Be careful with tone When you're communicating online, it tends to be through text. Something that's easy to forget is that text can rarely convey tone. What you might think reads a strictly informational someone else, may read, is angry. You can avoid this to some degree by stating things very clearly. Avoiding sarcasm, Use Emojis Emojis had the emotional color that is lost when we can't see or hear the person we're speaking to. They make a chat, more personalized shape, its atmosphere and east situations, in which a word could be interpreted negatively 7. Challenge #4: Fostering Osmotic Communication: the fourth challenges fostering osmotic communication. What is as Monnet communication? It's a term coined by Alistair Coburn, one of the originators of agile, the definition of which is osmotic. Communication means that information flows into the background hearing of members of the team so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis. This is normally accomplished by seating them in the same room. Then, when one person asked the question, others in the room can either tune in or tune out, contributing to the discussion or continuing with their work. Let's see an example. We had four people doing pair of programming. The team lead walked in and asked my partner a question. I started answering it but gave the wrong name of a module. Joe Programming with Jack corrected me without Jack ever noticing that he had spoken, or that a question had been asked. You don't have such a possibility for spontaneous communication. If your team is scattered over different locations, how can we deal with that challenge? Within a distributed team Virtual collapse. It's possible to schedule recurring virtual collab with your Web conferencing tool. For example, Zoom Microsoft teams Skype, etcetera, the goal is to recreate the open office environment to get opportunities for osmotic communication. In this context, the best practices pairing and messaging out in the open instead of instant messaging a person directly ad hoc meeting foster frequent ad hoc meetings in your group chat software , for example, Microsoft teams or slack. It's good that everyone in the team feels free to join the call Pro tip. Give the meeting a title that is descriptive enough to make the purpose of the meeting clear. I have a bonus question for you. How do you know whether or not a video meeting is necessary? Here's a good general rule of thumb. If you can't say it in a few sentences, then it's probably time to hop on a video call. 8. Challenge #5: Handling Meetings: the last but not least challenges meetings. Does this example sound familiar? I can't hear you. There's too much background noise. An echo on your end. Dribble more. Move off! Lemelle Gavin, I didn't understand what you said and I cant tell which one of you is talking. Explain what Mongo did you say? Blurb? I'm sorry. I don't know what you're saying. Shall we call it a day? Hold a meeting with a distributed team. Might be challenging What can help us. Material distributed Teams need great communication tools to succeed. Ah, great quality sound is key. That's why you need good microphones. Use video cameras at all ends camera on for everyone. For all meetings with your team participation there is basically two main challenges Prevent remote people going dark. The group that is physically present tend to run away with the discussion and comes to a decision without remembering to invite input from remote participants for non native speakers. If you're working in an international context, they might be shy to speak up. Here are two practices to address them. First agree on a mechanism for participants to signal when they want to speak to the other party, for example, Step one, the remote participant to use the meeting chant a signal he she wants to participate. Step to the meeting. Facilitator or chairman took note and redirected the conversation to the remote participant in a suitable moment. Helping the conversation to flow more naturally. Also meeting facilitators to regularly pull everyone. For their opinion, the facilitator really emphasizes Thea opinion of the remote participants to ensure that there is a fair amount of input scheduling. Be conscious of time zones and don't schedule meetings for the end of someone's day With teammates working from home, Chances are at least one of them is in a different time zone. This means you'll have to take into consideration not only when you expect teammate to be working, but when they'll be most productive. Obviously, don't schedule a conference call at 8 a.m. New York time if half the team works out of San Francisco. But also keep in mind that scheduling one at noon for someone in Europe might not be a good idea, as it's likely the very end of their work day, and they'll just want to get off the phone, keep it short, even If you're a great facilitator, keeping a virtual meeting interesting over a longer period of time will be an effort. That is why a distributed meeting should be a short as possible. Ideally, no more than an hour. If you're planning a longer meeting, plan to take regular breaks, for example, one every hour recording requests that meetings be recorded for those who are not able to make the meeting, anyone in the team will also be able to play back recordings to make sure he didn't miss anything. 9. Wrapping Up: Let's do a recap regarding the first challenge. Build relationships. You want to get together in person. Regularly use retrospective activities to build relationships. Remind yourself that communication isn't just about contacting your team. When you have instructions or need answers, it's about making them feel valued, too. Socialize and connect create environment for enabling small talks regarding the second challenge. Established communication by over communicating about everything. Becoming an expert in all the communication tools to help your team. Sharing calendars to be transparent about when you plan to work and when you will be away setting boundaries and making a rule to signal when someone needs to go silent to get something done. How to reinstate body language is was the third challenge. Choose video calls when possible, improve the experience, look at the camera and mute yourself. When not speaking, be careful with tone When writing text, seek for clarity and avoid sarcasm. Use Emojis Mighty situations. The fourth challenge was osmotic communication. It will be fostered by messaging out in the open when in virtual collapse, having frequent ad hoc meetings in group chat software. The last challenge was meetings. Check your material. You need good microphones and put your camera on regarding the participation. The facilitator to regularly pull everyone for their opinion, agreed on signaling system. Take time zones into account when scheduling a meeting and try to avoid the end of someone's day and lastly, record for those who are not able to make the meeting. I hope the tips shared in this course will help work the problems from the ground up. Just remember, it takes continuous work on individual level consideration of others, an open mind and some serious planning. This way the team builds up their unique chemistry and as a result they achieve effective velocity. Challenges can easily be turned into assets, have tackled properly.