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Agile and remote working principles create a winning formula for hybrid working practices

18 May 2021
  

We have noticed that our clients who have successfully transitioned to remote working have a common trait: an agile mindset. 

And we’ve realised how these two practices – agile and remote working – can aid organisations in managing and growing a hybrid workforce.

We moved to agile working practices about 5 years ago at ClearPeople, and over the past 7 years we’ve been progressing towards remote working – an evolution that served us well during the disruption of the pandemic. We’re a distributed workforce, and how we make it work is by ensuring that our employee experience is consistent, regardless of location.

With vaccination rollouts and restrictions easing, many companies are now looking at hybrid work solutions that allow more freedom in terms of when and where people work. What I’ve seen is that if you can apply the commonalities of successful agile and remote working practices to a hybrid workforce, you have a winning formula.

Let’s start with the key ideas behind agile and remote working practices.

 

Principles of Successful Agile Working

Although agile principles were developed two decades ago, they’re still relevant and are particularly suited to the new ways of working. That’s because they’re based on human values (anthropocentric) and aim to improve the wellbeing of workers and the quality of life in the workspace just as much as they aim to deliver high-quality products.

1. Customer satisfaction through the early and continual delivery of a valuable product is a key priority.

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2. Whether developing a product or service, speed and precision is essential. If it takes too long, the final product or service may be obsolete or inadequately satisfy rapidly changing demands. Agile aims for continuous delivery – delivering a functioning product from the very first development iteration.

3. Agile is all about welcoming change (yes, even if it’s late in the development stage). Feedback from customers is sought and factored in to the continuous delivery cycle.

4. Regular communication between team members, on both a one-to-one and a collective basis.

5. Simplicity. The art of maximising the amount of work done is essential.

6. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

7. Agile teams typically include stakeholders, managers and project team-members with a variety of skills in several discipline and work independently as a unit.

8. Scheduled reviews to identify changes that will increase effectiveness are held, and adjustments are made. This requires the team to collaborate and even compromise at times.

 

Successful Remote Working Practices

Last November, I was fortunate to take part in the Tech Talent Charter hackathon on remote working. Below is the outcome; an overview of what makes high performing remote teams. (PS: we won!)

Diagram: What makes high performing remote teams

 

To add to this, here are other practices and learnings we have discovered when working remotely.

When managing remote teams, we find the following recipe works well:

  • Agree ways of working upfront
  • Set expectations and trust your team
  • Have a daily virtual huddle
  • Keep the rhythm of regular one-to-one and team meetings to maintain a sense of structure and continuity
  • Share information and encourage your team to do the same
  •  Listen closely and read between the lines
  •  Foster relationships and wellbeing

Use technology that improves work, not impairs it. We live in a world where technology is supposed to make our lives better – but, the fact is, it often gets in the way. Asynchronous working allows people to communicate on their own schedule. An email or text can be sent at any time and replied to at your convenience, whereas synchronous communication methods such as in-person conversations or video conferencing require coordination and immediate response. These two ways of communicating are dependent on each other and build on each other in a linear fashion. Asynchronous working is the key to efficiency but also requires methodical record-keeping, centralised information and transparency. 

How to connect with remote team members

Create connections. Getting to know your teammates beyond just work will help you feel connected, be more productive and feel happier at work. The same applies to clients and vendors you work with.

Make yourself more visible at work – but also protect your time. Here’s how:

  • Tell your manager or team what you’re working on. Microsoft Teams Tasks Planner is Misc-Speechbubbles2a great tool for assigning, managing and being alerted on tasks
  • Celebrate and share your wins
  • Ask more questions
  • Use your Teams status to show when you are available or do not want to be disturbed
  • Use cortana to block “focus” time in your calendar.

A Winning Formula for Hybrid Working

Successful agile and remote working share certain principles:

  1. Simplicity – Both remove bloated processes that don’t contribute to quality or progress. When we were forced to work remotely by a pandemic, some things suddenly got simpler; decisions had to be made more quickly and we didn’t have to fill out heaps of paper forms.Contact-ToyTeeth
  2. Communication – Regular, daily communication is important to progress tasks and keep staff informed.
  3. Teams – Good teams make use of everyone’s skills and knowledge, include everyone needed to make decisions and get things done, and work as a unit.
  4. Meeting rhythms – The heartbeat of an organisation. Daily huddles or scrums are common to both practices. With remote work, these meetings instantly shifted from being held in-person to taking place online and should remain online so as to include everyone, wherever they may be based.
  5. Asynchronous communication – A particular danger for companies with both remote and office workers is that an information hierarchy can emerge, with remote workers at risk of being forgotten or left out. A decentralised and distributed workforce needs the right technology tools, and the ability to use them in the right way. Asynchronous working accommodates people’s different schedules and time zones and aids inclusivity.
  6. Reflection and adjustment – Time to review work done and identify changes that need to be made is critical to making progress.

Combining these strengths and applying them to a hybrid workforce provides you with a winning formula.

In summary:

  • Focus on employee experience
  • Continually find ways to make tasks simpler and digitise processes
  • Keep working on improving communication
  • Remember to make collaboration more effective and inclusive.

 


 

Hybrid Workplace Blog Series

 

 

Author bio

Katya Linossi

Katya Linossi

My job is to shape the vision, strategy, culture and performance of ClearPeople. Other than being passionate about making workplaces more inclusive, I enjoy planning our next travel adventure (post pandemic) or trying out a new recipe.

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