Agile – Co located teams vs Remote teams

One of the struggles when a Company, specially an International Company, aims to migrate to Agile, is to reorganize their team’s structure.

Not only to reduce the team size, but to relocate all of them, is for sure, a huge challenge we all have to deal with, at the beginning of the Agile adoption.

Let’s start by saying that, nothing is “stone written” on Agile framework so, I always suggest to use that flexibility to approach our current work strategy to the initial required Agile best practices, then adjust customs, by little, then convince them again and keep adjusting, till you’ve actually totally sold the Ideology, by then, any work structure upgrade will be easy to adopt.

As Agile ambassadors is important to focus on the real change we’re trying to get. Migrating to Agile from any other work methodology is not to deliver same but faster, is not to avoid documentation, or reducing team workforce. A successful Agile adoption is not measured by tools expertise, or timing meetings accomplished, but by the committed people ready to implement such new practices like change acceptance, ownership distributed, better communication, faster feedback and so on. Keep this optimistic and enthusiastic environment, and there won’t be huge change your team cannot commit and meet.

Now, even when getting the Agile top market work tools is not the goal when adopting Agile as work framework, they ease our effort while working with remote teams, anyhow don’t misinterpret, no matter how fashionably, sturdy, or customizable the tool is, getting a great tool is not the key, you can face challenges in communication, even with co-located teams so, Improve/ Strength Communication is the goal, using good strategies to do so, is the key.

When we discuss co located teams against remote teams, the real problem we’re exposing is the potential lack of communication we’d face in a scattered team, but as I’ve mentioned before, that issue may occur even with people working on the same site. Agile framework doesn’t provide solution’s recipe steps, though the dynamic, the values and principles promoted, really helps to identify opportunity areas on the team for improvement, they only succeed when the team commits.

The common expectation of the heads of the Organization that aims to implement Agile on their departments, is that all these kinds of issues, commonly they’re already facing, will be, somehow magically solved right after the Agile training is completed, this is not totally true, nor false. With the proper follow up, persistence and continuous improvement, expected changes and solutions will appear, but not magically, again, is not the tools, is not the written principles, but with everybody’s commitment and effort, and with constant and servant guidance to keep focus, in goals and values.

Yes, Agile best practices suggest to keep all your team on site and preferably sitting near each other. Not quite easy when offices are sometimes overloaded in people’s capacity, then some of our partners work remotely at home, in alternative sites, in other countries, or in different time zones. Yes, it helps to be next to someone that can answer a quick question in a five min discussion, instead of attempting to explain the concern by chat, or by looking for a space in other’s calendar, but yet again, the real challenge is to plant the confidence among the team, to be able to ask, to communicate concerns, share knowledge, guide, coach, no matter if is by talk, chat, call, or email.

Let’s face it, global teams, and remote teams are here to stay, Globality is one of the reasons, all the International Organizations need to coexist with this structure, and this is not only because of a financial decision, or because of the potential impact when having effort centralized, also when a project requires fast responses, or quick support.

Another reason is, because of the work-life balance had become one of the most wanted benefits when looking for “The Best Place to Work” Company. Overall of new Organizations are aware of this, and they promote this flexibility as part of their qualities, but not all of them are able to keep that benefit at free will, behind scenes is not is as easy and cool as it seems to be when promoting. That is because not everyone is prepared for such responsibility of their new freedom. Big, not that new Companies on the other hand, are a bit more skeptical on it, and rather to allow this ‘work from home’ benefit only on mature enough teams, and even so, keep it regulated with goals results, and clear KPI’s, I personally think that is the best approach to succeed with an extended team.

Whatever the actual situation is facing the team while attempting to migrate to Agile, when discussing if an agile team can coexist being Agile and extended, or remote, main goal to focus is, Communication needs to be strong, then goals need to be clear for everyone, the rest can be done, Agile can be done anywhere.

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