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Effective remote and the process of change

This is the first post in a blog serie about keeping the work efficient while working remote.

Most digital organisations already had established ways of working remote. With COVID-19, this becomes something else as established collaboration and culture often relies on many things, and ‘Enabling remote’, is not the same as ‘Effective remote’. Established teams tend to have a number of culture carriers and ways of spreading knowledge, as well as general wellbeing. This should not be overlooked. Also, some teams focus heavily on Pair/Mob programming to ensure continuous knowledge transfer as well as quality, and it is essential that these activities are not discarded or to heavily impacted.

Acknowledge the change

I think that it's a fair assumption that most teams have ways of doing online meetings, stand-ups, refinement, etc., but I feel that it is important to acknowledge the change of going from 'Local with online', to 'Online only' for all activities in your teams. Something as trivial as a quick talk by the coffee machine becomes replaced by channels and private messages, and there is a risk that people only ask the essential questions to avoid clogging the channels, or being unsure when and if they should bother team members at all.

Encourage creativity

I feel that it is just as important is to identify and address the culture carrying activities and ways of working, that enable your teams to become effective. Try to identify what activities are missing in working remotely, and encourage your teams to try new things and ‘find their way’. For example, promote Online one-on-one lunches in a round-robin approach. My opinion is that you should include the whole organisation in this type of change, and get feedback on what parts would make your teams feel more effective. For example, look at how you can embrace Asynchronous communication and Public sharing of information in a way that works for you.

Steal with pride

Working remotely and achieving effective remote teams is nothing new, and is actually something of a trademark for many top tier tech organisations. However, it can be a bit daunting to copy-paste the concept at a high level and make it work for your organization, and given the current situation many organisations have not had the time to plan and prepare.

Need some inspiration though? Take a look at 'GitLab's Guide to All-Remote'. It is often good to get inspiration from very concrete examples, and I find that this enables you to get inspired and incorporate this change in steps. Some things feel right from the start, while other things may not make sense for your organisation (at least for now).

Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss or 'rubber duck' ideas on this topic!

Erik Bleckhorns

Chief Technology Officer at Digitalent

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