When a Co-Located Team is Unexpectedly Distributed

Most practitioners agree that co-location makes a more efficient agile team. Over the years, I’ve worked with teams that are co-located as well as teams with members in multiple locations.  I've observed many ways to make the distribution somewhat less painful, and to reduce the impacts. There are many great tools out there to better enable collaboration across geography, and hundreds - maybe thousands - of viable communication tools as well.  

None of these can give you the equivalent of turning around in your chair and tapping your colleague on the shoulder to ask a question.  It's those informal communications that can make a co-located team more efficient.  I’m seeing more and more enterprises bringing development teams back together physically, reducing and even eliminating the dispersion of their teams.  

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, flexible workplace arrangements are more and more commonplace. Even if your team is co-located on paper, there will be times when team members may not be in the same location. And then there are times when teams are dispersed due to emergencies or weather conditions. Here in the northeast US, we are experiencing an high number of disruptive storms this winter.  Even agile teams that are usually co-located find themselves working in a widely dispersed fashion – whether they expect to be or not! 

So, even if you have a 100% co-located agile team, you need a plan to deal with and be successful with your team members distributed in multiple environments.  In this session, I will discuss some basic tips and techniques for you to consider as you formulate your game plan.  

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  1. Introduction/Background
    • Co-located teams:  efficiency, communication, trends to bring teams together
    • Tools:  technical collaboration, communication
    • The Need:  maintaining some fo the efficiency of informal communcation when teams are distribted, due to flexible workplace and emergency/contingency 
  2. Tips and Techniques:
    • Use video conferencing to bridge the gap.  
    • Use a continuous shared team chat.   
    • Establish shared core team work hours.   
    • Agree to team standards for communication and reachability.   
    • Hold ceremonies as scheduled and make sure everyone can participate.   
    • Hire and retain a Great ScrumMaster.  
  3. Wrap up:  your plan going forward

Learning Outcome

Participants will:

  • Learn 6 Specific Tips and Techniques to improve informal communication when team members are distributed
  • Discover ways to apply these to their teams
  • Understand options to improve efficiency when your team is unexpectedly distributed

Target Audience

ScrumMaster, Product owner, PMO, Developer, Agile Coach

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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