5 Tips to Help Your Scrum Team Work Remotely (And Be Happy And Productive Doing It)

COVID-19 has caused a major upheaval in nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including in the workplace. Collocated Scrum Teams have become instantly distributed, working remotely from home offices (if you’re lucky), kitchen tables, and garage spaces. And, while working from home cuts down on your daily commute, dry cleaning bill, and happy hour bar tab, it without a doubt, brings a significant challenge to your Scrum Team. What can you and your Team do right now to adapt and adjust to this new reality, stay productive, and stay sane? Agile’s Core Values actually prepared you for this.

Individuals And Interactions Over Processes and Tools

Yes, you probably know this one. It’s the first core value of Agile, from the Agile Manifesto. It couldn’t be more relevant than right now. You show me the Scrum Team Member who frequently peeks over a cubicle wall and asks another Scrum Team Member a quick question, and I’ll show you a Scrum Team Member that really understands valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Now, working remotely, those individuals are simply not there. And those interactions are infrequent and, well, clunky.

That’s why it’s more important than ever before to make sure your remote Scrum Team has the processes in place to be productive and the tools in place to foster collaboration and communication. That’s where technology comes in.

Make Technology Work For You

Here at 3Back, we’ve been working remotely for years. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that keep our Scrum Team efficient, effective, and engaged. Here are our favorite 5 tips.

1. Project Management Software Is A Must

Workflow doesn’t flow without communication, transparency, and tracking. That’s why we use the intuitive, visual project management tool, Get To Done. Having the right people in the right conversations working on the right tasks at the right time – that’s what Get To Done does for us. No matter what zip code we’re currently officing.

Get To Done Logog

2. Instant Messaging Keeps Everyone Connected

We use Slack in multiple ways. First, to create a virtual version of those “peek over the cubicle wall” workplace conversations. Second, in finding the backlog items we need to focus on and helping direct our attention in real-time. Lastly, we customize Slack channels for specific project teams, allowing us another quick avenue to get questions answered, pin frequently used documents, and keep connected.

3. Video Conference All The Time

All of our meetings are done through video conferencing on Zoom. We use Zoom, in combination with Get To Done, to focus and clarify our work within small groups. We’ve found Zoom’s breakout rooms essential to support our small Team swarm. The more we video conference, the more fluid it becomes. And, it’s paid off in our efficiency, not to mention our camaraderie.

4. Make Document Collaboration Easy

Every document we create, store, and share in G Suite is either a final deliverable or an intermediary working product on its way to Done. Our Backlog items in Get To Done become a central hub that helps us manage the spokes (documents) produced by our efforts. G Suite’s user-friendly commenting function also makes editing and brainstorming simple. Plus, we’ve realized that keeping a written record becomes even more essential when working remotely, to keep everyone aware of the latest information.

5. Stick With Scrum Ceremonies

So, our last tip isn’t technology-based, but it’s as critical, if not more so than the four above it. Your Scrum Team needs familiarity. In fact, when you first starting working remotely, your Scrum Team craves it. Familiarity is grounding and calming. That’s why it’s imperative to keep all of your Scrum Ceremonies intact. Don’t eliminate Daily Standups because you’re concerned it’s too hard for everyone to get together. It’s not too hard. The same goes for your Sprint Planning, Sprint Reviews, and Retrospectives. Your Team (and your workflow) needs that time together. Remember that with Scrum, we are inspecting and adapting all the time. The Scrum framework helps us detect opportunities to improve our focus. Without that framework, we would be scattered and confused.

Respond To Change Over Following A Plan

Yes, you probably know this one too. It’s the fourth core value of Agile. There will come a day when your Scrum Team is back together in one space. And, that will be amazing. But, in the meantime, you’ve got to respond to this change. Put technology in place, entrust your Team, and keep on Scrumming.

Speaking of change,
3Back’s Scrum Training is now available online.