Keeping your Scrum Team Productive While Working Remotely

The Scrum framework is reliant on strong communication throughout an organization and with the current state of the country requiring employees to work remotely, communication is more crucial than ever. While it can seem difficult to keep tabs on the state of projects and ensure the maximum productivity possible, there are things you can do as a member of the Scrum team to encourage developers and employees to stay productive while they work remotely. 

Here are some ways that you can keep your Scrum team on track:

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Keep Up With Your Daily Scrum

Product owners and managers may instinctively try to tighten the reins on their employees when they start working remotely due to a loss of transparency. Staying on top of your daily Scrum meetings is a great wait to check in with your team each day to continue tracking the progress towards your Sprint goals. 

By doing this, you can better understand where progress is at and respective team members can help manage workload wherever necessary. Regular and consistent check-ins with your Scrum team will allow you to facilitate communication and measure progress. Additionally, these meetings will help the Scrum team understand what new impediments are arising within this new working environment. 

Ask Your Team to Recreate a “Working Environment”

One of the most common reasons that productivity drops when employees go remote is due to the countless number of distractions and lack of accountability that comes with working from home. By encouraging your team to recreate their working environment, they can drive higher productivity. Some things you should suggest:

  • Set up in a separate, isolated workspace
  • Leave your personal phone in another room
  • Listen to music through headphones to better drown out distractions
  • Encourage coworkers to collaborate and interact on a social level

That said while recreating the “in-office” experience will only help so much. After working in a remote environment for a certain period of time, new roadblocks are likely to come out of the woodwork.

Welcome New Impediments That May Arise

Typical in-office impediments that Scrum Teams see on a daily basis, such as conflicts between employees, are likely to dissipate in a remote environment. That said, other standard impediments are likely to intensify and new roadblocks may arise when employees move to a remote environment. For example:

Lack of Support

If employees were previously feeling like they had a lack of support prior to going remote, that feeling is likely to intensify as employees have even less face time with their teammates and peers. By tackling this head-on, a Scrum Team can “defuse this bomb” and make employees feel better supported. 

One way you can address this is by hosting virtual office hours or setting up one-off calls to address concerns with your development team. By carving out additional time to support your staff, you can regain some facetime and offer help in a more personal manner.

Prioritize Bigger Tasks

It’s not uncommon to see employees push off their more daunting tasks when they move remotely, especially with lessened accountability. But, as Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In this analogy, the ‘frog’ would be those big tasks that seem daunting or tedious. 

Prioritize these tasks with your employees and encourage them to start these larger projects early in their workday or early on in the Sprint. Once complete, they will likely feel more eager to take on the lower maintenance tasks.

Communication Issues

In an office, transparency and communication are relatively easy. For example, in person, you may overhear things just by walking around and being present. In a remote environment, unless explicitly stated to you, you may miss out on some relevant information regarding a project or company status.

Moreover, there are tons of communication impediments that can arise in a remote atmosphere. Between poor Wi-Fi and unspecified checkpoints, communication efforts can and will fall to the wayside. Address this by encouraging employees to reach out via call, text, email or direct message if they have any questions. 

To boost communication, now may be an ideal time to integrate a direct messaging platform into your internal communications efforts. 

Encourage Continued Learning Experiences with Responsive Advisors

With the current state of the nation, people have been forced to quarantine and socially distance leaving them with more free time than they’ve ever had. The question of the day is what to do with this free time.

While business leaders may take this time to get organized and reprioritize, employees may want to enhance their scrum education. Here some helpful resources you can provide to get them started:

If you, your employees, or your peers are looking to advance their Scrum knowledge, our team at Responsive Advisors is offering exclusive classes to help you get started right from your home.

Robert Pieper

Robert Pieper has been a licensed Professional Scrum Trainer since 2014 and National Public Speaker since 2013. Robb holds an MBA from Marquette University and an Electrical Engineering Degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Robb has 15 years of professional software development experience with a passion for making Scrum work delivering real products and services
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