Working from home in Agile mode: best practices

Fri 20 Nov 2020

General rules

Working with agile teams remotely is not just about the digital tools used. It requires an understanding of the essence of agile practices and techniques in order to choose the most productive way and manner of proceeding.

As a facilitator, I recommend applying the Cynefin framework to measure the impact of working from home on everyday issues, by analyzing the causes and effects of each practice.

  • Prefer short sprints (from 1 week to 2 weeks max): A short sprint will limit Mudas (waste according to Lean methodology), enabling the team to focus on a small number of functionalities with very short ceremonies.
  • Very short ceremonies: Human beings cannot remain focused and productive on a phone, Zoom, confcall, etc., during 3- or 4-hour (or even day-long) meetings. Set a maximum time limit with your team from one hour to 2 hours max.
  • Be the first to log in to the “conference” or event: As Scrum Master and facilitator of the event, it is essential to be ready 5 to 10 minutes in advance to check that all the tools and working materials are available, so that the meeting can start at the scheduled time.
  • Definition of Ready: As for the US, specific rules must be set for each team during meetings: Person responsible for drafting the meeting report, background noise, do not mute microphones, etc. (This will depend on each working group)
  • Avoid meta-communication: Choose your words carefully, as they are the only way to share your ideas. Remain focused on the objective of the meeting.

Communicate effectively

When working in the office, we are used to discussing and sharing our daily lives informally throughout the day: why we are late, anecdotes, having lunch together, etc., in addition to professional topics. This strengthens the human connection between team members.

With the current situation forcing people to work from home, the distance between team members means that needs, knowledge and expertise are very often poorly shared. This difference deepens over time if nothing is done, with the indirect consequence of favoring the escalation of issues by waterfall methods: Miscommunication, Result ≠ Need, dissociation of the team, etc.

In order to avoid these issues, I recommend focusing on the following practices (non-exhaustive list):

  • Try to adopt a +/+ life position.
  • Avoid bombarding people with emails.
  • Make team members aware of the proper use of collaborative tools.
  • Encourage informal virtual exchanges to strengthen/maintain links between team members.

If these rules are respected, clearly communication will be more effective, making it possible to make much faster progress, with great agility!


Anas Lachheb

Agile Coach and Provocator Agent