Managing a distributed team comes with a set of challenges, even for an experienced team leader. Not sure what kind of rules to put into place to keep the work going? These tips may come in handy.
Probably the most important part of keeping a remote team effective is setting a strict schedule. Meetings can be treated with a flexible approach when all the members of the team are within earshot, but that won’t work when everyone works from home.
Below are the best practices for managing a remote team.
General Tips For Meetings
1. Keep discipline in the project
Start the day “as usual”. A fixed schedule of the day, week, month, sprint, period will be your saving grace when things get heated in the project. Make sure every meeting has always the same timebox that is monitored and has more or less the same schedule.
2. Meetings must have a defined goal
Every participant should determine before the appointment if they need/have to come.
3. Everyone shows up prepared for meetings
If we are discussing the backlog, everyone should know what the backlog looks like at the moment.
4. The principle of “two feet”
We are all agreed that at any time, you have the right to disconnect from the meeting without giving a reason if you decide that your presence isn’t necessary at this meeting.
5. Have headphones/microphone, camera, Internet connection and meeting place in place
When you are not talking at the moment, always mute your microphone so as not to interrupt the meeting with the sounds of your background.
6. The meeting always ends when its scheduled expiration time
We don’t extend it.
Savoir-Vivre for Slack
- Slack is an asynchronous communication tool – you leave an info/question and don’t expect an answer immediately.
- Communication should take place on the project channel so that everyone has equal access to it and everything is transparent. We avoid private messages like fire.
- Use the threads on Slack – this way you can have a discussion without browsing the channel endlessly.
- Communicate and record – make sure and even repeat yourself. After the meetings take notes, summarize the discussions on Slack, transfer the findings to Jira or Confluence, pin messages to the channel.
- Meetings cost more than threads and discussions on Sack – think about what do you want to discuss and choose a reasonable form for exchange of thoughts: 30-minute meeting after which we have one arrangement is a candidate for asynchronous written discussion, a thread on Slack with a hundred answers is a candidate for a meeting.
- Don’t be afraid to change forms – make sure if everything is clear during a call or is it better for everyone to think about the topic; in this case, we disconnect and return to asynchronous communication. If the discussion in the thread becomes cloudy – we convene a meeting.
- Always communicate in writing about all problems, blockades, and delays.
General Rules For Team’s Happiness
In the team, everyone must know the exact schedule of the week for each other team members. Make sure everyone in the team uses the same type of calendar.
Inform about absences and departures from the settled schedule – the earlier the better. Decide if it’s worthwhile to plan a sprint (or retro if you don’t have sprints because those should be regular) when an individual member will be unavailable in the upcoming cycle.
Lastly, have the equipment you need in advance that you will need to do work (especially in case you deal with the issue of QA). If you don’t have a necessary piece of equipment, tell about it immediately, not 5 minutes before a meeting.
We can say that three things are important when the team works remotely: communication, communication, and communication. At least it’s easy to remember!