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Transitioning Agile to a Remote Environment

Working in consulting, we apply the agile methodology frequently to enable our clients to be nimble in addressing threats and elastic in intaking new opportunities. We are often faced with complex organizational environments where many different groups are required to align on a path of execution. Although traditionally used in a software development context, the agile methodology is also applicable and beneficial when implemented across various types of enterprise projects. These groups often exist across functions, geography, or expertise. While “Agile” has proven to be successful, this way of working is often uncomfortable to adopt because of its unfamiliarity. It often takes moving past the storming and norming phases of team formation before the dynamics and communication pathways become inherent in the way we work.

While implementing Agile can already prove to be challenging, the added complexity of a remote environment may make it seem even more complex. We have found that even if the framework is implemented by various components, it can help improve overall productivity of teams. As organizations adapt to working in a remote environment amidst a pandemic, we’ve identified three ways in which agile teams can continue to be as productive if they were to be co-located.

Leveraging Technology

In a world of open office floor plans and whiteboards on every wall, collaborating in a remote environment may seem challenging. For those apprehensive about changes in the way we work, the pandemic has been a forced catalyst for technology adoption.

Tools, both those built into existing subscriptions or free ones, can seamlessly integrate into the way agile teams work to promote communication and collaboration. Our project teams rely on Microsoft Teams for routines and longer working sessions, leveraging connectors like Whiteboard or Planner.

Create Opportunities for Connection

Conversations that traditionally occur as we walk by team members in the hallways or over impromptu lunch are not as organic in a remote environment. While encouraging interactions may be done so intentionally, there is still opportunity to make it meaningful. Scheduling lunches for the team bond or celebrating birthdays over trivia – activities may be deliberate but will help boost morale in an uncertain time.

Leadership engagement can help support individuals as they navigate new professional challenges. Whether it is a personal email or shout-out during a team call can help create positive energy and camaraderie among a team.

Maintain Flexibility

As the dynamic moves through its ebbs and flows and teams eventually grow more comfortable, it is important to maintain flexibility. Needs will continue to shift as we adapt to a new way of working, but staying true to your teams way of working is what will help drive success. It may be tempting to throw technology to replace existing solutions to maintain a sense of familiarity, but a willingness to test and keep what works and feels right will ultimately drive success.

Allow your team to rethink their approach to their roles. As scrum masters and product leads discuss requirements and blockers, there may also be the opportunity to understand what else they can do to improve productivity and a more positive work experience. A servant leadership philosophy can prove beneficial during this time.

Although we’ve had an unexpected change in the way we work, going back to the basics and leveraging our teams and tools can prove to be a powerful way to maintaining productivity.