The Rise of Virtual Agile Teams: Delivering Quality Solutions to Users Around the World

March 30, 2021 by Stefanini

Virtual agile teams are helping businesses deliver projects faster and with more creative solutions. Get tips on working effectively in a virtual agile team!

One thing COVID-19 has taught us? Teamwork – especially the work done by virtual agile teams – doesn’t need to be face-to-face to be effective.

If you’re new to the world of IT, you might be unfamiliar with the agile approach to working. While “agile” first was created as a software development approach, today, industries outside of IT are starting to embrace working in an agile way. Indeed, the method’s emphasis on creativity, collaboration, and transparency that draws from a range of technical, professional, and business skills offers advantages that most organizations could benefit from.

With virtual agile teams, working remotely no longer needs to be a barrier – it simply requires open communication. Read on for adjusting your agile work processes for the work-from-home age!

The Virtual Agile Mindset

Due to the amount of teamwork that comes with working in virtual agile squads, some have expressed doubts in terms of how well teams can collaborate online. Yet, there are many benefits inherent within a globally-distributed, virtual team.

To start, businesses are no longer limited to hiring employees based on geographic proximity and are free to work with the best minds from all over the world. Further, projects can reach deadlines much more quickly as team members working in different time zones can hand off assignments to each other at the end of their work day, allowing for near 24/7 progress.

What do successful virtual agile cultures have in common? Gartner outlines the following values:

  • Focus – each team member is equally focused on the team’s goals.
  • Courage – at times, team members work through tough problems.
  • Openness – team members and stakeholders are open about challenges they’re facing, are willing to learn from one another, and feel empowered to express their opinions.
  • Commitment – achieving the team’s goals is a personal commitment for each member.
  • Respect – team members respect each other as competent, knowledgeable individuals.

Optimizing Virtual Agile Teams for Remote Work

Obviously, working virtually can present issues with communication, transparency, and alignment. As teams around the world continue to sign on remotely, Gartner recommends they adopt the following practices:

1.      Review the situation

Most employees are used to videoconferencing by now. Yet, some teams are missing the opportunity to hold a meeting that strictly addresses work processes. Gartner suggests the following approaches:

a.      Schedule an hour-long meeting to discuss how to effectively communicate and collaborate while working remotely. If there have been breakdowns in work processes, address them. Work together as a team to brainstorm the most effective way to adapt to remote working.

b.      In a thirty-minute meeting, touch base with your team lead to align the squad on the project, vision, and strategy.

Remember, every problem is a people problem. Regularly address communication barriers to turn people problems into people solutions. 

2.      Engage as a team

It takes time to learn how to effectively contribute to remote teams. And while virtual tools like video conferencing offer a suitable replacement for in-person meetings, unfortunately, they also allow attendees more opportunities for disengagement. When attending a videoconference, remind your team of the following stipulations:

a.      During meeting time, be present; turn your camera on, pay attention, and ask for clarification when needed. Don’t give into temptation to check your email or work on something else. Further, if the meeting does not have value for you, decline the invite to avoid Zoom fatigue!

b.      Remember that you’re human. Everyone working from home has faced similar challenges, whether it’s a child jumping onto your lap during a meeting or a pet barking when you’re not muted.

c.      You’re part of a team and as such, your team relies on your feedback. Further, if you typically had lunch together in the office, there’s no reason you can’t replicate that same bonding time at home. Simply leave your camera on, unmute yourself, and enjoy the banter!

Further, remember to revisit your remote work culture. Understand why your company does the things it does, the rules it follows, its identity, how team members should help each other succeed, and its values. Then, reinforce these guidelines to your organization. Always lead by example!

3.      Maintain momentum

Even though your team members may be working a part, it’s still crucial to reinforce how you work. For instance, to be inclusive, build trust, and ensure everyone is heard, a scrum team should still follow a process that includes sprint planning, the daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.

Further, always remember to be customer-obsessed. Get closer to your customers by understanding what they want to accomplish, and how you can help them achieve it. With journey mapping, you can understand how your solution is used in the real world and how to prioritize your work to maximize the value produced. Don’t forget to bolster your approach with market research!

4.      Foster openness

Times are stressful. It is crucial that your team members are empathetic toward one another, admit mistakes, and improve together. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate – in fact, use reply-all on team emails and raise questions in your collaboration tools (typically chat tools like instant messaging) so everyone can contribute.

Further, make sure to leverage customer feedback to allow your team to make quick decisions and focus on the right customer pain points.

5.      Leverage technology

If you haven’t already shifted to the cloud, it’s time to get onboard. Increase your team’s agility and resilience with flexible, shared, and always-available virtual environments. Work with your infrastructure team to understand which services can be moved to the public, hybrid or private cloud. Most importantly, evaluate how this change will alter how your teams work.

6.      Evolve team practices

The agile process works when it enables transparency, inspection, and adaption. Don’t just assume all team members are comfortable working remotely – check in on them and always keep communication lines open.

Stefanini’s Virtual Agile Teams

Virtual agile squads deliver on a people, process and technology front by promoting strategic thinking, problem-solving, and design skills. At Stefanini, we can deploy six different types of virtual squads to help your business meet defined KPIs. From design to sales performance to digital analytics, we can deploy the right team you need for every project.

Interested in learning more? Connect with us today to get started!

At Stefanini, we can deploy 6 different types of virtual squads to help your business meet defined KPIs. Interested in learning more?