Remote work seems to be “the new normal” for IT companies worldwide, as employers are likely to embrace flexible workforce models to cope with tech talent shortages. According to a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, 55% agree that remote work has become more common among full-time employees and expect up to 38% of their full-time personnel to work remotely in the next decade.
However, all remote and distributed engineering teams should meet today’s basic requirements to develop high-quality software on time and within budget based on Agile principles and Scrum. But does Agile work fit such teams? Doesn’t Agile imply a face-to-face work model? If these questions are relevant to you and you are willing to discover more working practices, please read on. This article shares Auriga’s experience with how remote and distributed teams can be more Agile based on lessons learned in a variety of projects and domains.
- Golden hours
In a remote office or a distributed team, it is important to maximize “the golden hours” when people from different locations work at the same time. In the case of drastically different time zones in teams, we advise that you shift working hours and rotate meeting times as nobody wants to wake up at 5 am to participate in a weekly meeting. At Auriga, we aim to provide the same conditions for all team members. We also try to spend more time together while conducting code reviews or discussing questions.
Agile is based on the idea that face-to-face communication is the best way to convey information in a development team. That is why, when we work on our projects with Agile, we have daily “stand-ups.” Engineers from different locations stand in front of monitors with built-in cameras while talking to the other team members. This helps us keep our meetings short and productive; at the same time, it is very close to how face-to-face conversations are meant to be.
- Task assignment
In Auriga’s teams, we try to avoid task pre-assignment as much as possible. Collaboration, communication, and team diversity create an environment where teammates can freely discuss and share tasks based on their interests, workload, and knowledge. As a result, engineers are more motivated and engaged in various tasks, and the team satisfaction level has grown. Moreover, due to this practice, we all have a common code understanding, so it has become easier to mentor newcomers, as each of us in the team can do this.
Strong ownership leads to actions. At Auriga, we treat shared responsibility as a “no-responsibility,” which means nobody is responsible for the code. Instead, we implement a transparent and trackable process of who’s doing what using JIRA and other tools. At the same time, we all have the right to transfer ownership, which is also an action.
So, is there a place for Agile Scrum in remote offices and distributed teams? Yes, there is, but note that you should pay more attention to communication, responsibility, and the equal engagement of all team members. Nowadays, there are many tools and methods for remote Agile teams, but it is the people who make them work. Choose what suits you best and find a way that works perfectly for your team!
Sandra Aleksieje, Project Manager, Auriga