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7 tips for successfully transitioning to a fully remote team

 
 

Next Gen Insights | Edward Butler |
21 April 2020

Without a doubt, we have entered into an unprecedented reality and more organisations are shifting toward plans involving remote work in response. Luckily, remote working isn’t a new concept, but it might not be in every company's wheelhouse. In fact, it’s safe to presume most businesses that rely on or have a culture where it is expected that employees are physically present in an office may find it difficult to adjust to this new norm of working from home.

As companies and individuals, we have been pressed to make a lot of changes within a very short time span. This has required adaptation on all of our parts, and at the same time we need to keep a focus on our overall wellbeing.

With this being the case, I’ve put together some tips to help make the transition into this situation easier and to ensure as few disruptions as possible.

1. TURN CAMERAS ON

It sounds obvious, and it may even feel weird for some of us at first. However, being able to see each other adds a whole new dynamic to team interactions.
 
This can help everyone be more aware of how engaged people are and could even increase concentration. For instance, instead of being distracted with multitasking, more focus could be given to something requiring urgent attention.

Plus, turning your camera on can help reduce others’ anxiety and loneliness. It’s important to remember that not all of us are fortunate enough to have immediate contact with our families and loved ones. Simply being able to see a fellow colleague could make all the difference in someone’s day.

2. USE INTERACTIVE TOOLS

Remote working doesn’t necessarily provide us with the full suite of supplies we’re used to having. So, try to use interactive whiteboards, collaborative documents, and other integrated tools for greater connectivity.

Rather than having lots of ‘passengers’ on a video call, try using an interactive tool where everyone can participate and remain productive throughout the session. Inevitably, there will be a waiting period while someone updates the scrum board, for instance, but giving everyone a chance to pitch in can help promote a stronger sense of unity within the team.

3. BE AGILE

It only makes sense to maintain existing ceremonies. That said, it’s key to be open to adapting them.

My team and I have found that scheduling meetings in the morning, reducing their duration, and having a clear agenda has helped to retain structure. It’s also helped us avoid burnout from excessive meetings. At this point, I’m sure we all know what that’s like.

4. ASSIGN STRAIGHTFORWARD ROLES

Make sure everyone knows what their role is. People who are best at their job tend to know what their job is.

Our team has found that we’re able to replace some long and often tedious meetings by ensuring roles and responsibilities are well understood. This includes simple things like who is accountable to prepare for the meeting, and who is responsible for ensuring the desired outcome/output is achieved.

This could be as easy as discussing a simple RACI matrix in an open forum with the team. Of course, every team is different, so have a clear conversation about what will work best for yours. Whether big or small, each person plays an important role.

5. MAKE WORK VISIBLE

Visibility is a key tenet of agile, and it’s now even more important when we’re remote. Another way of reducing time on endless video calls and with improved roles and responsibilities is to make sure status updates consistently stay current.
 
This is especially crucial where people depend each other. So, rather than having multiple calls, let everyone know where they can find your updates. It really is as simple as that – update the board!

6. HAVE SOME FUN

Although it’s specific to our project, we’ve started sharing photos of our lunch, etc. It’s only a small thing but it’s a way to keep occupied and learn more about your co-workers.

It may even create a bit of banter in ceremonies. After all, being fun and playful generally helps everyone open up and feel more connected. So, find something to do or share that will spark joy and laughter. People are always more comfortable when they can relax.

7. BE FLEXIBLE WITH WORKING HOURS

During this time, understanding that co-workers need fresh air, to exercise, and to attend to family commitments, etc., goes a long way. Freedom is a sign of trust.

So, if you trust your staff make sure to let them feel it. Give them some freedom.

Remote employment definitely has its benefits, but significant effort and planning is required. And with a remarkably large number of people now waking up in unconventional working environments, coping with this kind of drastic change calls for a certain amount of flexibility from employers and employees alike.

To be adaptive during this time, it’s important to nurture an open mindset focused on both growth and development. Clear communication is key as well. Ultimately, though, make sure you are taking care of yourself and your team by cultivating positive and productive habits. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, and our health and safety should be the top priority.

Edward Butler

VP DevOps Transformation

Edward has two decades of experience in infrastructure, application management, cloud and DevOps. He works with our clients to help them unlock the benefits of continuous delivery and is passionate about the 'human' side of IT, especially the way that multidisciplinary teams with a shared goal can go above and beyond the expectations of their business. Edward enjoys sharing his knowledge at events and has even co-authored scientific papers. In his free time, he enjoys playing music and sports involving a board – specifically surfing and snowboarding. But not paddleboarding, that's a bit too sedate for Ed.

 

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