Tips & Tricks for Effective remote communication in Agile teams

Based on a research paper by the University of California, Irvine "Remote and Alone: Coping with Being the Remote Member on the Team"

Having a clear idea about the virtual environment necessities is essential if you are trying to work remotely with your team. One of the most important aspects that you need to take into consideration is communication. Communication in a virtual team has the same purpose that an in-site team. The problem here is that your communication needs to support the work process and be even more explicit.

effective remote collaboration source

This is part 1 that will help you to create a better plan to increase good communication in your remote team

Today we are going to share with you some tips that will increase the communication effectiveness and have clearly defined distributed work processes and communication plan with your remote team. Having the whole team working remotely or at least some of them implies strengthening the need for overall information sharing and explicitly confronting any situation.

Work Rhythms and Time Zone Issues

Working from home implies that every member needs the freedom to decide which is the best way to work and adapt their personal life with work life. That's why it is important to help the team to organize their activities and have a plan settled down.

Some of the things that you need to establish with your team are:

Time zones of every member:

Ensure that everyone knows when is the correct time to interact with your team. Early or late meetings can't be avoided when members work from different time-zones. Encourage respect and a better way where all members have the flexibility to change their meetings it is needed. Asynchronous activities also can be a good option. Check out some of our tools perfect to work asynchronously.

Scheduled work hours:

How much time the member has to be connected or available for the team. Or if members can be connected at their own decision you need to have that information available.

Meetings:

Also, it is important to have all the members informed about the meeting schedule to organize their own work. Have in mind the regular meetings, mandatory weekly meetings, any meeting that you can notify is better. Also is important to avoid rescheduling or delays, this will decrease the importance of the meetings and will provoke a lot of problems with the time that members had designated to work, remember that they organize their time based on your information.

Discussion topics and individual conversations are easier with videoconferencing, try to encourage this practice between members to solve problems that are too difficult for messages. Another good tip to increase communication effectiveness during meetings is meeting agendas and to distribute related documents. Members can feel more comfortable during the meeting if they understand the purpose.

Clear emails:

For some workers, the reply can take more than 3 hours, so if emails are very explicit there is no necessity to reply more than once.

A to-do list:

If you have the possibility to assign work and activities to your member before starting the day or on a regular basis, is a better option. This to-do list will help your team to organize their time and their meetings, remember that meetings also need to be scheduled to avoid misunderstandings and delays.

Visibility & Evaluation

There are different strategies to make voices heard and to establish a remote presence. A core strategy to maintain visibility was described as “overcommunication". source

  • Instant message: if members can be aware that you are available it is more probable that they will send a message. Instant message is a good way to know that you’re at the desk because they have no other way to really gauge that.

  • Status updates: Daily communication can make a difference about how the people are involved with their work. Status updates or in the Agile language Daily Standups are great to foster constant communication and make all the team aware of the work process.

  • Overcommunicating: another good tip to make communication greater is to foster overcommunicating. Chiming in is a good way: Reacting to a message, saying "I agree with that...", all kinds of activities that the people notice that the team is really there.

  • Availability: Avoid that members feel the team is unreachable. Isolated members solving problems alone can be avoided if members have the correct channel to communicate. Establish a chat, maybe a Slack channel where members can look to communicate with the team. Also it is important to silence notification when its time to work, this can avoid a lot of distractors.

remote communication in agile teams source

Feedback:

We always talk about feedback and the importance that this activity can have with agile teams. The main point about the feedback importance is not just constant improvement. Regular feedback also needs to be used to celebrate the team's achievements.
Daily standups or status updates can be a good time to make the team know about our work and to recognize employee contributions. It is important to put special attention if we talk about remote workers, it is not the same to share their contribution as you can expect from an in-site member.

Having a system/tool that actively supports the Agile process:

Remote work implies a little bit more intentionality that can be strengthened and supported by tools.

There are some platforms that can help you to support the way you communicate, share work, share documents, and all of those regular activities that a job needs. The problem is these platforms could not be ideal for your remote agile ceremonies.

There are some tools designed to improve agile remote collaboration that can help your team to have regular ceremonies without problems.

Allowing members to work with the correct information and a well settle down environment can make remote workflow more collaborative and self-improved.

As you can notice, communication in remote teams is not only related to the way that we have conversations with our team. It has immersed a lot of situations that can make a difference in the way that your team can interact.
Compare what you have done with your team and try to fill the gaps that you could be forgetting. Also, you can talk with the team and to find some incredible ideas.

Discover more of our agile remote tools:


Source: "Remote and Alone: Coping with Being the Remote Member on the Team"