3 Tactics from Agile Development to Help you Work Remotely
I'm not a software developer, but I love agile methodologies. Agile development is all about being able to react. It's based on a set of principles that emphasize breaking up tasks, constant collaboration, and welcoming change. These are things that any of us could apply to our work, so I wanted to share some of my favorite Agile tactics to help your remote teams thrive.
Daily Stand-up Once a day, your team meets to sync on progress and plan for the next 24 hours.
What you'll find in Scrum (one of the most popular agile frameworks) is that there are rules. These rules are meant to maintain structure while keeping things simple. In a traditional development team, Daily Stand-up is a time-boxed 15 minute meeting where the dev team meets to review progress made, evaluate the priorities, and plan work and deliverables for the day.
I mention the rules to highlight that while these rules are proven to help development teams, your team may be different. I encourage you to adapt these rules to work for you, just keeping in mind their intention. The 15-minute time box is meant to keep you on task, communicating the most important information. The attendees all being on the development team is just meant to cut out external stakeholders who would distract your focus. It's recommended to do this meeting first thing in the morning, but again - make it work for you. This daily meeting will allow you to synchronize with your team as well as shift workload toward the highest priority project, even as priorities change.
"Agile" is pretty literal - it will enable you to react to shifting priorities.
Break Up & Size Work Projects and objectives can be broken into smaller, more achievable tasks.
In agile development, teams tackle "Tasks" which are the manageable and tactical tasks that all add up to major initiatives or projects. Devs use a hierarchy of "Epics", "Stories", and "Tasks." But for the sake of managing your time while working remotely, you don't have to completely adopt this structure.
For anything on your to-do list that is overwhelming you, try breaking it into smaller pieces. Once you've done, this, go through your to-do list and make an estimate how long each thing will take you. Now, being aware of what your highest priorities are, start dropping those tasks into your calendar for the week.
Focus on the intention - to break the work into manageable tasks that can be time-blocked.
You will get it wrong at first. Some tasks will be over or under-estimated. Maybe you'll have an afternoon where you just can't get anything done. It's ok. That's why we do Daily Stand-up. To over-communicate to your team, align on priorities and shifting timelines, and start each day aligned on where you actually are.
Retrospective Make time with your team to discuss what worked and what didn't, and to celebrate progress.
At the end of a week, a development team has two meetings - Sprint Review and Retrospective. In the Sprint Review, you align on what was accomplished during the week - focus on what's completed. You also review the "to-do" list to agree on what should be done next. A Retrospective is more about inter-personal communication. Talk about your top two items that worked and didn't work. And make a plan, together, on how to improve for the next week or sprint.
This is core to Agile; it's in it's manifesto -
"Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools"
For you and your remote team, perhaps you don't need two separate meetings. Focus on the intentions. Make time to celebrate your wins and accomplishments. Come out of the meeting aligned on next steps in terms of the project and how to better work together.
Change is inevitable, but improvement is a choice. Implementing these techniques into you or your team's workflow can improve productivity, and more importantly, collaboration and teamwork.