The ability to maintain agile environments is crucial for teams that are now forced to work from home across the globe. Agile is all about embracing change and innovation to boost efficiencies and team effectiveness. With Agile team management, you can help your remote teams adapt to the new demands and behaviors that come with working from home and help them become happier and more productive than ever.
Below, we’ll cover some Agile methods for keeping your remote team on track, as well as some top remote team management tips. But first, let’s further explore why project agility is so important for successful remote team management.
Why project agility matters in remote work situations
Working and managing remotely is much different than running a project team who are all based out of the same office space. Remote work comes with several unique challenges, including increased distractions, difficulty separating work and life, and changed working hours.
Agile emphasizes collaboration, communication, and adaption. In an Agile work environment, flexibility is the norm and teams are empowered to work how, where, and when they choose — as long as they get the job done. Project agility provides your team members with the freedom to embrace an adaptive work environment while ensuring the entire team becomes more productive than ever before.
Here are just a few ways that Agile team management helps remote teams:
- Daily and weekly touchpoints. Working remotely increases the chance of miscommunication and can make team members feel isolated. Agile’s emphasis on daily and weekly check-ins helps ensure everyone is always on the same page, and no one feels forgotten.
- Adaptability to change. For many people, working at home comes with more distractions and interruptions. Agile is designed to be flexible and to allow for last-minute changes. Embracing project agility helps ensure that an unexpected snag won’t derail an entire project.
- Constant feedback loops. Fast turnarounds and continuous feedback from the client and other stakeholders help boost accountability and ensure that everyone on the project stays focused on the main goals. Regular customer updates can also increase client trust, which is important when you can’t meet face-to-face to assure them that everything is going smoothly.
How to keep your team on track in remote environments
A good Agile manager understands how important collaboration is to project success, especially for remote teams. Collaborating on projects improves both communication and overall productivity. Finding ways to promote collaboration, such as organizing brainstorming sessions and team-building activities, will help keep your remote teams on track, boost morale, and increase team members’ sense of accountability.
Another way to increase accountability and keep track of progress is through daily standups. These are short daily meetings where everyone is expected to discuss what they completed in the last 24 hours, what they expect to complete in the next 24 hours, and what problems they think they might encounter.
Using communication and remote collaboration tools like video conferencing services and chat platforms can help you stay on top of progress and keep your team on track without micromanaging anyone’s work.
Project management software can also keep everyone on target through the use of to-do lists, automated task reminders and notifications, interactive Gantt charts, real-time dashboards, and more. With so many different options, team members can use the tools they prefer to help them stay focused.
Remote team management tips for agile project managers
Promoting project agility is both about helping your team quickly adapt to changes and about supporting and encouraging them to discover new and better ways to do things.
Here are seven remote team management tips to help you promote agile work from home:
- Your key focus should be on facilitating communication between your team and other stakeholders, as well as removing roadblocks to progress. Remote workers are more likely to feel isolated and overlooked, so it’s vital that you check in regularly and ensure they have everything they need for success.
- Acknowledging how your team works and collaborates and then playing to those strengths. When you prioritize your people and give them the freedom to ‘work outside the box’ it will boost productivity and innovation. Enable people to work however they prefer as long as they’re still hitting deadlines.
- Set recurring meetings and critical hours if work schedules overlap. If there are a few hours a day when everyone is available, make sure you block some of that time out for team meetings, collaboration, reviews, feedback, and any other work that requires multiple people. Then in the quieter hours, your team can focus on individual tasks.
- Encourage asynchronous communication. It can be hard to maintain a work-life balance when you’re working from home. By letting employees know that nothing should require an immediate response, you can help them “check out” after work hours and recharge to be more productive the next day.
- Implement the tools, processes, and practices that improve visibility and help your team continuously collaborate and communicate even when they’re remote. Choose the best project management solution for your remote team. Look for software that has in-app messaging and task dependencies, since these tools keep remote teams on the same page no matter where in the world they're located.
- Use automation to reduce or eliminate tasks for remote employees. You can streamline and automate everyday tasks such as project notifications to save time and ensure everyone is kept up to date.
- Embrace retrospectives. Agile team management requires a willingness to adapt and change. At the end of every sprint or phase, it’s important you hold a retrospective with your team to review what worked well, what didn’t, and how you can make things even better going forward.
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