When employees work from a location away from their office, it is called remote working. Originally, Agile teams were made to work in clustered teams located together in the same office. According to the sixth principle stated in the Agile Manifesto, “the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation”. Based on this principle, Agile teams, earlier, were working together in closely located units.
It is an imperative to focus on the mode of conversations taking place in organizations having remote working teams. Transferring a message from a sender to a receiver working for the same project team is the motive of conversation. While at work, the conversation is all about the project process which includes planning, implementation, risk-mitigation, and project requirements. Understanding the right information not as an individual, but as a team, is a formula to project success.
Today, businesses are split into several teams, which are known as Distributed teams. Distributed teams can work seamlessly around the world, can make better workflow, yield higher productivity and find strong talents. Distributed teams cannot operate without some agreements, as many of the teams are unable to carry out face-to-face interactions based on Agile practices. Some other challenges arising for distributed teams are as follows:
- Coordination with global teams
- Building a rapport
- Managing with sorted development culture
- Scheduling meetings according to the availability of both the teams
These are unavoidable problems, but not unresolvable. Let’s take a look at the strategies to build a bridge between local and remote offices and ideas to mitigate the issues.
1) Coordination with global teams:
Structure your teams like a good software architecture having a modular design. Every office should collaborate in developing a quality software, which can help you minimize the collaboration required with teams present in other time zones. When a project requires coordination from different teams situated at different locations globally, they can concentrate on their APIs.
While working, if people distribute code knowledge between offices in different locations, it makes maintenance much more trouble-free. This distribution of code to others is called Code reviews. If any problem comes into sight when one team (mainly the development team) is offline, the teams present in the other geographical areas should be able to support and resolve the issue.
2) Building a rapport:
Solid rapport is a base of any program, especially for the Agile programs across the team. Personal talk helps to form trust, fulfills all expectations, maneuvers self-organization and boosts team-spirit. Take time to know the people working in the remote offices in your team. This will build a rapport between the other team members and also help in achieving good relationships.
3. Managing with sorted development culture:
There are four simple techniques teams can opt for while working across different geographical areas, sharing a usual development culture.
- Spread your decisions across all geographical areas:
There occurs a communication gap while moving from co-located offices to a distributed culture. It is a big challenge to educate the team to understand that when decisions are made, they need to be discussed with other teams as well. When it comes to teamwork, even the tiniest decisions are significant.
- Reduce conflicts while setting-up a development environment:
The development environment makes it easier to work and track the issues. Create a simple ‘Getting started’ user manual and try to reduce the conflicts by automating the structure as much as possible.
- Make the ‘definition of done’ clear:
When working between offices, it is important to clarify the standards for the definition of done. It not only eases managing the expectations and building a rapport across the teams, but also helps reduce ambiguity during work.
- Prepare guidelines for placing effective bug reports:
When any problem arises and every team member is not online, having clear guidelines can help debug an issue. So prepare an effective guideline for placing useful bug reports.
4. Scheduling meetings according to the availability of both the teams:
Schedule meetings during the ‘golden hours’ of the distributed software teams. The golden hour for the distributed software teams is when both the teams (local and remote teams) are present in their respective offices. When local and remote teams are present in the office, it is a perfect time for stand-ups.
Today, companies are benefited manyfold by operating like distributed teams. According to a US federal government report, “47% of its employees (more than a million people) were eligible to telework, which has been recorded as a big increase over the year before”. Working remotely helps employees balance their work in an effective way and yields more productivity.
Be not surprised if these remote Agile teams completely replace the traditional Agile teams in the near future.