Remote teams and bot disruption.

At SoftwareDevTools we are part of an organization that embraces remote work. Some of us live in cities such as Mexico City or San Jose (CA) where commuting to the office is a daunting task. We have talked about the many ways to work with a remote team and some tools that can help your team’s performance. We’ve figured out that one of the tools that have helped the team’s performance the most was something as simple as having daily stand-ups on Slack, so we created a bot to run them asynchronously; that enabled us to have updates and know blockers from every member of our team which resulted in improved communication and more efficiency.

For some of us embracing working from home or anywhere in the world ("workation") might seem simple enough. But for many of us getting started was not an easy task. Having the right culture in place is essential and best practices are better learned by example than reading it on a book or white paper.

But to suit your cravings for something to read, the great folks at Zapier have written up an easy to read and quick guide on How to Run a Remote team, which is worth the time to browse through. In our blog, we've also written about Working with a remote team and reaching project goals, and Leading a Happy Remote Team

Bots can help remote workers.

Bots for remote teams This question is always in the back of my mind - Can bots create more remote jobs? when I see industries embracing bots, are those bots enabling people to work from anywhere they want? or is it just making sure tasks are done efficiently to enhance team performance?

Since we are focused on building tools for development teams, the goal is to provide support for the software development process, so I can only write from this angle. In doing so, we have seen several areas of opportunity where we can see bots help remote teams. That is why we created Stand-bot which helps software teams do asynchronous standups like we mentioned before. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The processes that are prone to bot disruption:

  • Testing.
  • Enhance communication.
  • Interdisciplinary tools integrations.

Testing has always been a manually intensive process for software teams and one that is prone to human errors, getting those nasty bugs out the door and into a users experience. For now, most of the services are not connected with any of the platforms for software development and the insights gathered through those findings can spark important creative processes. Which most of the time is done through face to face encounters.

Tools like Marvel App, Invision and others can be great tools for designers, product owners, and developers to have great conversations on what the product is doing to solve a user's problem. For now relying on in-person meetings to generate those conversations, more platforms are enabling those connections through API’s but for now, they are isolated from the rest of the platforms.

For example, when a QA team is reviewing the requirements from the main spec sheet and doing their process, they see bugs related to the poor interpretation of the documentation of the features. Most of the time the team talks it over in person or through a conference call, but if there would be a link between the process of review and the development cycle it will reduce the pushback from QA to the development team.

Bots could be a great way of making those links, without the users interrupting each other while they are publishing a new feature or launching a product. Making the case for them to stay at home or in a remote location without the fear of missing out.

Communication is a key component in a remote team.

Any of us that have been working for more than 2 years with a remote team can attest to the importance of communicating with your team. But different hours of work or time zones can get in the way of how a team can make those connections. If the team is different business units then the matter gets more complex.

Video will play an important role to enrich the experience of remote teams. You will find it in all the communication platforms and it is a widely used tool that companies rely on for communication between teams and their business units.

But as you can see from this blog post from Remoters talking about the 7 tools every Digital Nomad needs for better communication, some of them rely on API’s to link between platforms and of course Slack is in there and in their App Directory you can find all sorts of tools for your team. Now that Slack has video calls it will be a player to consider in the competition for the de facto video conference platform.

There are tons of tools for video conferencing, some of them are really excellent tools like Zoom, Hangouts, and Skype. But for the most part, they are lacking in connectivity with tools for designers and developers. If you take a peek at any of your colleagues you will see that the video chat platform is all ways independent of the tools they use.

Telegram is another player that has quietly launched their video offering, more and more competitors will be entering this space as video technologies keep getting cheaper to implement.

It is an interesting space and more people are getting connected via mobile devices, which blurs the line between desktop and mobile as the platform for remote workers.

Bots do not have a presence in the video chat platforms, but you will likely see them interacting with us since platforms like Alexa, Siri and Google Home are already doing so in our home.

Trying to improve your #Agile practices? OR are you getting started with Agile? Are you in a remote team? Check out our products for Agile teams at SoftwareDevTools. We focus on making agile ceremonies more effective and easier to adopt for remote teams.

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Claudio Cossio

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