Sick Working From HomeIf you’re paying attention, you can see it everywhere.

“Coronavirus & Remote Work: Tools and Tactics for Business Continuity”

Learn How to Be an Effective Scrum Master for a Distributed Team

Crisis Management: Being a Team Facilitator in an Uncertain World

These are just a few of the subject lines in my Inbox (OK, mostly in my spam box). You can see similar headlines with increasing frequency on LinkedIn, and all manner of Agile and Scrum websites. It’s as pervasive as the crisis we are enduring around the globe.

For many of us – perhaps most of us – it will never be the same again.

I’ve written before that a prevalent interpretation of one of the 12 Agile principles, co-located teams, largely misses the point.

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

Many in the Agile community have interpreted this to mean that ideally every member of a team reports to work daily in the same physical space, and is able to look over their shoulder to their teammate and ask “What about X?” That is likely even the original intent of the statement when it was written.

I believe the authors chose their wording carefully, taking into account that technologies and the capabilities they bring will change over time. And I would suggest that time has come.

In the current global situation, working in the same physical space is generally not an option for people in the knowledge industry. Scrum teams have to learn quickly how to effectively collaborate in a distributed world. If, as a Scrum Master, team facilitator, or Agile Practitioner, you are just hoping to ride it all out until things return to normal, I would suggest an alternative.

Prepare for it to never return to “normal.”

Organizations around the world (including my own) are beginning to ask the question “Will this affect our policy of working from home?” Few have the answers yet, but the fact that the question is being asked suggests that change is coming. If productivity doesn’t decline – or even significantly decline – is it worth the thousands (or tens of thousands, or millions) of dollars being spent on real estate for workers who have the same networking capabilities from their homes?

As an aside, early metrics from my own project in my own organization suggests that productivity is actually increasing – the number of stories completed in a given time period is trending upward.

So the hot topic of the day is “How can I effectively facilitate a remote team?” I think you’d be wise to think long and hard about the answer, because it is very possible this will become the new norm, not something to ride out. 

How are you adjusting to facilitating a remote team? What has worked for you and what has not? Join in the conversation below or Contact Us.

Anthony Bopp, Scaled Scrum Facilitator
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