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Working from Home in Coronavirus Days

The coronavirus has sent many people that on regular days are working from the office to work from home. This is a big change for many teams that need to establish new ways of working.

Here are some tips for managers that are relevant for these days (which are relevant for regular times as well):

Video calls are highly recommended: they keep people engaged and focused on the meeting, reducing multi-tasking and keeping meetings short and fluent. There should be a very good reason not to have a video call.

* If there are expected network issues, management needs to provide direction and solutions. Don’t have meetings longer than 1 hour without a break. recommended 10 mins break every 1 hour.

managers should pay extra attention to keeping team spirit and togetherness feeling.

* Decide with the team on an agreed hour when the day starts (9:30? or 10:00?). By this time people are expected to “come to the office” (= connect).
* Open Teams/Zoom/any other tool you use/ meetings all day, recommended with video, to let people connect and stay connected just as they would have come to the office. After good morning greetings, some small talk, etc. the team can mute themselves until they need someone, but this platform will
allow them to see and communicate faster and more intuitively than only chat/emails.
* Have virtual coffee breaks with the team – every 1/1.5 hours. Suggest that everyone will go grab a drink and/or snack and join back together for a video chat just like you were in the office kitchenette.
* Towards the end of a day (let’s say 15:30/16:00), have a daily recap and closure meeting. See if there are special needs or any changes towards tomorrow, and check how is the team’s spirit. Treat it like saying goodbye at the end of the day with a dash of retrospective.

How to conduct remote meetings.

* Meeting organizer to join the meeting 2 mins before the meeting starts in order to make sure start on time.
* When the meeting starts, everyone goes on Mute (reduces background noise that prevents people from following the meeting).
* No more than 1 person speaking at a given time.
* Meeting organizer should make sure all participants are engaged and involved in the meeting: actively ask less vocal people questions, and make sure
no one takes over the talk.
* Ask people that are distracted/need to leave for a few mins to inform them before leaving so that people will not talk to or wait for them.

Daily meetings

* Review team progress by using the team’s Virtual Board (Jira/Rally/Azure/VersionOne/etc) and burndown chart, to keep everyone aligned on the progress.
* Make sure people understand the importance of keeping the board updated.
* Keep the meeting as focused and as short as possible.

Adjust the capacity of your sprint

* Take into consideration the impact of working from home on capacity: people WFH with family around them (and maybe other distractions) are working with lower capacity than usual.
* Discuss this at the beginning of sprint planning and identify who has full capacity and whose capacity is impacted due to WFH.

No need to wait for the end of the sprint in order to change something in the way the team works. Have non-official retrospective(s) during the sprint and
agree on adjustments as needed.

Respect lunchtime – don’t set meetings between 12-13 (unless agreed otherwise in advance!).

And last but not least: you are the leaders of your groups. people look up to you. Keep setting a positive example, be flexible, and remember to be empathic
and supportive of others.

And who knows, these challenging days may turn out to be empowering days that will grow your teams and bring them to new heights…

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