Working with Scrum remote teams has many challenges, from communication barriers, inclusion, tools and building trust, just to mention a few. However, one thing you need to get straight: working remote is not the same as working in house. If you understand this, the rest will follow.
Here are the most common mistakes the people are doing when treating distributed people the same as co-located people:
1. Onboarding for distributed people MUST be different
Just imagine you need to onboard a new person that you cannot see physically next to you and when the call is off, he is still just in front of a PC at his desk, far away from rest of the people.
What can you do different:
Build an Agenda for the distributed new joiner for one week to one month (more focus on the first week) to feel included and taken care of. In this way, the sessions will take him/her through different topics, meeting new people and will provide a lot of similarities with the co-located onboarding.
Let each Team member present himself at the beginning and share the Web cam, as well as introducing sessions to get to know each other. Introducing Team personal time will help the new joiner feel the team's embrace and focus on providing his first contributions to work, rather than stressing with the social interactions and getting integrated into team.
2. Set up the expectations and team rules/agreements from the first day
Some companies call them expectations to get fired and they are being introduced to the new joiner to make things clear. In the same time they are also looking into his expectations and asking what would be important to know about him to work better together. Collaboration in a remote team is what makes a team better or worse, so building a close relationship and platform for fruitful discussions is a key to success.
3. Taming of the tools
Co-located teams have precious moments together: kitchen coffee time, lunch together at canteen, evening bier and brezels.
Remote teams can have instead a camera turned on all the time, the microphone on, Sococo tool for the team's virtual workspace, Slack channels for internal communication, wiki space for single source documentation, Zoom for meetings and break out rooms for group focus...Tools today help us more that we had yesterday. They make remote work possible. I have attended remote open space conferences, remote summits, remote retrospectives.
4. Work out loud
Agile KPIs are today measuring the Outcomes, rather than inputs. We start with the 'Why', understand our goal and we struggle to achieve it during our work. Once achieved to go to the next one. In this way we are focused on meaningful work that makes a difference, which makes everybody happy.
For remote teams communicating the steps towards Outcomes involves working out loud. This is not a status, but a relevant synchronization statement that helps people understand what progress/achievements have you made so far, as well as failures/bottlenecks/help signals to prevent possible pitfalls. My messages helps my team to organize its work better and make smart & fast decisions.
Working in a distributed team is a strange experience for someone who until than only worked with people co-located. It opens room for questions, feelings, but if you approach it correctly, this may be the best way of working ever, supporting you to be flexible, work from anywhere, doing your dream job for your dream company without changing your life and your family's.