Many organizations continue to move towards adopting Agile, looking to improve their teams’ effectiveness by embracing lean principles, which aims to increase efficiencies and add more value to customers. Common drivers for this include reducing waste, promoting full system thinking, minimizing work-in-progress, increasing collaboration, improved customer satisfaction, etc.
Below are some of the less ‘textbook’ benefits of Agile we have experienced in working with our clients during this period of remote work – benefits that have enabled our teams and clients to continue to be effective. These benefits will be applicable beyond times of a pandemic as teams continue to be de-centralized, and work -from-home (WFH) and flexible working hours become more of the ‘norm’.
Here are a few ways the Agile/Scrum framework approach works well for a remote workforce:
Agile allows for less distractions in a remote environment
It is no secret that working from home comes with some distractions you normally would not have in the office. Basic Agile practices help decrease some of the usual work distractions so you can focus more on high priority tasks.
In an Agile Framework:
- Work is planned, prioritized, and divided among team members.
- The team improves estimating effort and when work can be delivered.
- “Shoulder-taps” are eliminated from other groups as the Product Owner and Scrum Master manage these requests.
Benefits: Defined meeting times and clear priorities allow team members to manage their work time while balancing the additional responsibilities and distractions that come from working from home.
Agile promotes connectedness in a remote environment
The Agile Framework involves more frequent planning with the team and has built-in time to discuss how the team is doing, celebrate wins, and discuss opportunities. It is an added bonus if you can use webcams in your virtual meetings.
Agile Ceremony Benefits:
- Daily Stand-ups allow for a quick sync with the team each day to understand the current workload, ask questions, and report any issues.
- Sprint Planning allows the team to collaborate on what work can be accomplished, rather than individuals being assigned work.
- Retrospectives allow space for the team to have open, honest conversations about the highs and lows of the sprint. In a virtual setting, this can be a great forum to share personal milestones instead of focusing solely on business.
- Refinement meetings allow the team to forecast future work and plan for any dependencies on other teams. This is useful for programs with multiple workstreams as it allows for alignment of priorities and work to be done in the future.
Benefits: Regularly meeting with your team allows for a better understanding of the work to be delivered, opportunities for troubleshooting, collaboration, and even just providing a human element to see what is going on with each of your team members outside of work.
Agile allows for continuous improvement in a remote environment
Whether working remotely or in-person, the purpose of the Agile Framework is to encourage continuous improvement for teams. Regular reviews, team touch points, and a culture of open feedback helps to improve delivery and collaboration.
- Bi-weekly planning allows the Product Owner to reassess high priorities and ensure the team is always working on what is most important.
- Teams have a forum to provide specific feedback on opportunities to improve communication, processes, and approaches to the work. There is a chance every two weeks to answer the question, “What can be better in the next sprint?”
- Teams have an opportunity to demo products, features, or tools with the customer on a frequent basis ensuring user feedback is captured.
Benefits: Frequent review of work and feedback allows the team to pivot when change is needed and decreases tunnel vision on an initiative. While remote, the team can still march toward the goal even if it moves or changes slightly.
As some are beginning to return to corporate offices, there is no denying that remote work is becoming, and will continue to become, more prominent among companies. From decentralized teams across multiple states or countries, to working with vendors that may not be in your city, remote work will continue long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. If you would like to see increased efficiency among your teams, consider utilizing Agile themes when working remotely.
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