Last week half of the SoftwareDevTools team traveled to San Jose, CA to participate in an Atlassian hackathon. We worked on planning, designing and building an app for an up and coming Atlassian messaging platform called Stride.
We usually work remotely, since we're a distributed team of ten people scattered across four cities in Mexico. Different combinations of team members work together on our several products and we get to see each other on our travels and events, but the whole team only gets to reunite twice a year.
The importance of face-to-face interactions.
When there's a high level of trust in teams, members feel more comfortable voicing their opinions, asking questions and proposing ideas. -Mónica Tye
Mónica, one of our team's PM, wrote about the experience:
"This week I was reminded of the importance of scheduling off-sites and face-to-face meetings with the team every once in a while. These occasions allow the team to discuss ideas, come up with strategies, and to receive rapid feedback on their work.
Most importantly, getting together allows distributed teams to socialize and get to know each other on a more personal level, which ultimately leads to building more trust and rapport. When there's a high level of trust in teams, members feel more comfortable voicing their opinions, asking questions and proposing ideas.
For instance, this past week together we were able to work on our app for Stride (More news on that coming soon!) during the hackathon hours, but many of our great ideas emerged during our spare time when we were having dinner or chatting about our day."
Liliana, another one of our team's PM also had something to add:
"During the event, I learned the value of having a complete team in sync focusing on developing a single product. This allowed us to exchange ideas and follow up on things between areas without having to struggle with long-distance communication and working with several things at the same time. Everything just flew smoothly and fast in the product development process.
On the other hand, having instant feedback from Atlassian experts and platform developers gave us a great drive during the event. This let us have the opportunity to adjust the features functionalities of the product, stick to the design guidelines, and having first-hand information about future changes on their platform that would help us build new features and engage even more with our users while using our app.
At the end the purpose of attending this events was fulfilled not only because of the product we created, but because of the relationships we built, the amazing feedback from experts that we obtained because this app will be one of the first ones to be published alongside with Stride, which will give us the chance to engage with new Stride users right from the start."
In conclusion, if you're working remotely or on a distributed team, make sure to schedule some team retreats during the year, you'll definitely see an increase in team cohesion and performance.