In this new COVID business environment, where distributed teams are the new norm, we all need to re-learn how to work together using new tools and processes, and if you’re wondering why Agile is such a hot topic right now, it is because the Agile model can help you to adjust quickly and effectively to these changes.
A recent survey conducted by Atlassian shows that 78% of workers want to keep a flexible work arrangement and this is not the only survey taken during the last year. Similar studies have shown that 40% of knowledge workers in the U.S want the option to work from home or at least in a hybrid environment, which is defined as a mixture of in-office and remote employees.
However, having a good Agile culture doesn’t come out of anywhere. It requires a committed, well-aligned team, and ultimately begins with leadership. If you are in that position we recommend you review these 4 pillars of successful leadership for hybrid teams.
Remote employees need more autonomy in their work. Remember that Agile teams are self-organized. They don’t wait for managers to assign work. Instead, they identify all the work that needs to be done, prioritize tasks, and manage timelines on their own. If you are a leader or manager, provide your team the freedom to decide on the next product or work increment and help them to understand customer needs. The trust that you provide to your employees will affect their morale and engagement at work.
2. CLEAR GOALS (Try, learn, adapt and repeat)
To set clear goals, leaders first need to make sure the team understands their roles and responsibilities. Transparency is key. Sometimes when a team feels overloaded or pulled in too many directions, they can lose focus and deliver less. Having clear goals in their sprint and a schedule for reaching desired results will help them feel motivated to deliver on time and achieve tasks. The process is not perfect but can help you to define and polish new goals for the next sprint. Managers and leaders should clearly outline the milestone they intend to meet and then let the team figure out how to get there.
3. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Different organizations are inventing ways to maintain online communication. In Agile environments, this usually happens with the daily scrum meeting. For distributed teams, it requires teleconferencing by using zoom or other video call tools. The purpose of this short but relevant meeting is to call out the need for collaboration and resolve issues. It focuses on what each person accomplished yesterday, what will they do today, and if there are any impediments. In other words, it’s a meeting where you establish trust, speak clearly, identify problems, and help the team to move quickly forward during the sprint. The meeting is short and sharp, there is not a formula here. Depending on the size of the team and structure the meeting could last between15-30 minutes.
In Agile, retrospective meetings are short and frequent. The time invested in the meeting is an opportunity to learn and improve. Depending on the size of the team, meetings can last 30-90 minutes and are scheduled at the end of each Sprint. Retros are a tried-and-true part of staying Agile. The simplest format for conducting this meeting is by answering three questions:
What went well?
What didn’t work well?
How we can improve? Or What are we going to try differently?
Retros are an opportunity for review and reflection; an exercise that improves flexibility, giving us the chance to change and grow.
To sum it all up, having a hybrid team means identifying cultural gaps and adopting new norms to create a better and stronger Agile culture. This organizational metamorphosis requires a shift, not only of process, but of mindset, and while this change can be a tricky one, it is achievable.