How many so-called online teams are just a bunch of individuals, each of them working individually on his own tasks? In your opinion, which are the three most important things, when successfully working together online?
I come up with the following three things:
Agree on a common rhythm
Each one of us has his own working style. When being on his own, all of us structure their days in a different manner. As long as nobody depends on the work of a team, it doesn’t really matter when she completes it and with what quality.
Now add dependencies to the equation. I know, we should try to minimize them, but realistically this does not always work out. As soon as somebody depends on the thing another person produces, he is constrained to adapt to this person’s way of working and her personal schedule.
Rhythm helps to align people. Meetings are usually a pain. When they are spontaneous we need to keep them tracked. People have to administer lots of individual dates. Introducing a common work rhythm helps to focus on the work and the results we want to produce and not on coordinating collaboration again and again.
Define clear agreements between individuals
Agreeing on a common work rhythm is only a part of a whole bunch of things to agree on, when starting to collaborate together. Working remotely exacerbates the importance to do so.
A common ground must be found at least on the following topics:
- What is the common work goal for a defined time period (you can call it a sprint, an iteration or something else)?
- How do we measure successful delivery of a given set of work results?
- How do we involve the customer, so we get his valuable input for our team? Who talks to him (and who is he/she)?
- When do we meet and how?
- Which tools do we use to collaborate and for what exact purpose?
Be transparent in your collaboration effort
Transparency, in a good sense, helps to have a common understanding on where we stand with our effort to produce something meaningful.
Some of the things we want to be transparent about (in no particular order):
- What current risks need mitigation?
- What can the customer realistically expect our team to deliver over a certain time period?
- Do I need help?
- Do I face unexpected impediments (distractions, family affairs, side work) holding me back?
- Do I see technical and other liabilities that were overlooked?
Not addressing these concerns will hinder a well-coordinated remote working effort. Why not sitting (virtually) together with your team before problems arise and try to address at least a part of these problems head on.
What are points you deem useful?
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you have any objections? Want to discuss them further? Then leave a comment.
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