In the ideal case, agile teams will all work directly across from each other, albeit maybe with a few thin walls in-between. But business seldom adheres to silly ideas like convenience, so distributed teams are becoming the norm. In an article for Scrum Alliance, Rajiv Bajwala shares his tips for working most effectively in a distributed agile team.
Distributed teams face many inherent challenges, such as overcoming time zone differences, cultural differences, and building rapport across vast spatial differences. Bajwala believes these challenges can be addressed and overcome by taking some specific steps. For instance, the best way to set up teams for success is to provide upfront agile training, both to the teams and to management who needs to understand the way agile teams function.
And to build team rapport, you need to create many opportunities for actual verbal interaction. Videoconferencing is the best way to enable this, but this too comes with challenges of which you should be mindful:
- Technical challenges will crop up from time to time. These challenges will affect the quality of the outcome that is expected from the meeting itself. One-on-one conversations can be carried out using Lync/Office Communicator, Skype, or other approved tools that are easily available.
- This form of communication cannot replace the daily face-to-face conversations that team members have. It is a much shorter view of the other person and his/her work setup.
- Videoconferencing is an aid to make formal meetings more effective. However, it is also a great tool to use on a more frequent basis to increase informal interactions and thereby reduce a considerable amount of formal communication over email.
At the full article, Bajwala provides a wealth of additional tips in convenient bullet-point format, and you can view it all here: https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2017/june/working-with-distributed-agile-teams