Our practices revolve around keeping the team engaged. My goal is to give everyone enough space to think and opportunities to collaborate. The practices are similar to what you might see on an Agile team, the difference with remote work is they need to be more deliberate. You don’t overhear other peoples conversation and step in to suggest an idea, you need to be invited. These practices are driven by the principles.
We do them everyday. I stand or sit at my desk, we use Lync, or GotoMeeting, it doesn’t matter. We share a screen showing our Kanbanery board. We join 5 minutes early and chat about our evening/night. We work through the board or around the people. We sometime use cameras, often not. We often invite other people in. We demo. We try to keep it to 15mins but often break off into other discussions. People come and go. We decide what to do next. Most importantly we spend some time together as a complete team. I struggle to imagine the day without them.
When we start a story, we get everyone who’s interested together. People love being involved from the start. We’ll talk on Skype for perhaps 30 minutes. We might add comments and acceptance criteria to the story as we go. We’ll meet again as we start to learn more, the path often twists and turns.
Unless the story is very simple, or someone wants some space we usually do it in pairs. We share a screen and talk on Skype of Lync. We remind each other of the cost of shortcuts or meanderings or fads. We sometimes ask another pair to join us when things get sticky. We often laugh, scream and metaphorically cry together (I wouldn’t do that in an office).
Testing and User Acceptance
We share responsibility for quality and testing. It often goes off team too, the support team and the technical consultants all help out by checking the nightly builds from their own unique viewpoint. I nag actively invite and encourage people to take part. We discuss each story and bug, there is no simple rule, each story has its own needs.
Sometimes we actually meet up for planning, face-to-face, but I often regret it. Ideally we plan little and often, discussing new stories and perhaps a cheeky estimate, but it often drags on. If it’s going to drag, give me a comfy chair or a garden and good coffee over a meeting room.
Now this is one practice I like to do face to face. We use it as an excuse to come together every few weeks and lubricate our minds with a good pint from the pub around the corner. Everyone vents their concerns and we thrash out the next steps to resolving them. I try to keep it fresh and encourage the team to look from different viewpoints. I’ve done a few remotely and they’ve been fine, but it’s great to get face-face occasionally if we can.