Agile methodology was originally designed and used for clustered development teams working from the same physical office space. The numerous benefits of agile methodology then led to other departments experimenting with agile work practices as well, which in turn made agile a popular project management approach. The main idea behind agile is to cut down big project goals into shorter sprints, convey information effectively, and communicate with team members face to face.
But things have changed a lot in the past few years. Organizations now have remote teams that don’t always get to have face-to-face interactions. Remote work allows employees to have a better work-life balance, create their own work schedule, and choose their own location to work. For organizations, remote teams help save up on infrastructure, hire and retain top talent without location limitations, and achieve higher productivity.
Implementing agile methodology can not only help remote teams get over the main challenges but actually thrive. Before we go into how agile can help remote teams thrive, let’s cover the basics of agile.
What is agile methodology?
In agile methodology, big project goals are broken down into shorter iterations called sprints, which can last anywhere between a few days to a few months. For every sprint, teams have clear objectives and goals for what they need to work on and by when they need to deliver the work.
Keeping small goals instead of long-term project goals helps keep teams stay motivated and it also makes sure the team members are always on track to meet the final project deadlines. Agile methodology is very effective for remote teams since it helps team leaders quickly identify what is working for their team and what just isn’t, in order to make changes in real-time without affecting the overall timelines or causing any delays.
Top ways agile can help remote teams
1. Clear milestones
Remote team managers often don’t set clear milestones. Most managers end up assigning tasks to remote team members directly, expecting the employees to manage it all on their own. But without details about how the final deliverables should look like, things can easily go wrong which can make all the parties involved suffer.
The agile methodology includes planning and setting clear milestones for every sprint, no matter how long or short. This way, even when remote team members are distributed across the world, they always know the goals, expectations, and timelines for every task.
Moreover, planning out milestones before starting the work also ensures that you have all the details that you need to finish the task and there are no bottlenecks later due to incomplete information.
2. Regular stand-ups to connect with the team
Standups are short daily meetings that agile teams use to stay connected and updated with other team members. The short and agile nature of standups makes them a super easy meeting structure for remote teams to implement as well.
Standup meetings usually last 10-15 minutes and in them, every team member is supposed to ‘stand up’ or take a turn one by one to share progress updates about the tasks that they have been working on and if they faced any difficulties handling the task. These meetings help ensure the remote team is always on track, identify any setbacks early on, and keep things moving forward seamlessly.
Daily standups are also a good way to create a sense of camaraderie and improve team spirit among the team members, which becomes incredibly important for remote teams that don’t get enough opportunities to have face-to-face interactions with their colleagues.
3. Eliminating unnecessary meetings
It can be hard to get things done while working remotely when your schedule is all packed with back to back meetings — most of them unnecessary and without a proper agenda.
Agile methodology is all about removing the unnecessary parts from your work processes and that includes unnecessary meetings.
While scrum meetings and daily standups are part of the agile methodology, remote teams don’t always have to rope in all the team members for the sake of holding a meeting. Instead, it’s important to reevaluate which meetings are helpful and which meetings are a complete waste of time.
Moreover, you should only invite all the team members into a meeting when you need to make decisions that impact the whole team or share project-related information that requires real-time feedback from the members.
Before scheduling a meeting with the entire team, make sure you have a set agenda and an important reason to have it. Depending on the meeting agenda, you should also see if it’s possible to shift the meeting structure from real-time to asynchronous in order to save everyone’s time.
4. Building rapport and team spirit
Regular check-ins with remote team members and short sprints help build solid rapport across the team. When you build personal connections with team members, even if it is through quick meetings every day, it directly leads to lesser confusions, better self-organization, and boosted morale.
With no way to get to know each other outside of work, it is easy for remote employees to feel alienated and left out. Implementing agile methodology helps remote teams improve team camaraderie, rapport, and collaboration, and overall efficiency as well.
5. Retrospectives to continuously improve your remote processes
A retrospective in agile teams is a meeting that is organized at the end of every sprint where teams reflect on the past sprint, the main bottlenecks that they faced, and the ways they could improve going forward.
Agile retrospectives can be used to continuously refine and improve on remote processes in order to make them more efficient and improve the overall employee experience.
You can also use retrospectives to ask remote employees what is working for them, what isn’t working for them, and what needs to change. Evaluate the main challenges faced by employees while handling their daily tasks in order to understand how you can help them perform their work in a more efficient and productive manner.
Empower your remote team with the right tools
If you want your remote team to successfully follow the agile methodology and actually thrive from it, you need to empower them with the right remote work tools. When it comes to agile remote teams, there is a need to use tools that can be customized according to their unique agile processes.
Instead of using separate tools for communication, sprints, retrospectives, and project management, you can use a dedicated digital workplace that provides a centralized platform to access everything that your remote team needs to truly stay agile. More importantly, its customizable nature allows every remote team to transform the digital workplace into what works best for them.