Editor’s note: This interview of James Shore was recorded for Coding Over Cocktails - a podcast by TORO Cloud.
In a bid to make communication between remote working teams easier during this pandemic, organizations are seen investing in more collaboration tools and technologies.
According to James Shore, author of The Art of Agile Development, this investment is exactly what teams would need, as communicating and collaborating effectively are essential in making Agile work during these challenging times.
Shore explains in an episode of ‘Coding Over Cocktails’ the way team rooms (i.e. spaces that allow team members to work and collaborate with each other) in remote work environments today are much different from back then. This change is reflected in the upcoming second edition of his book, The Art of Agile Development, which is currently in open review.
"The first edition of the book was really clear. It said, ‘[Collaboration] is something that we know how to do when you're in person, and we don't know how to do it when you're remote.’ — but that was 13 years ago."
Today, creating and working in virtual team rooms for more Agility is much easier, thanks to tools that make remote collaboration possible. "The same ideas of having a collaborative workspace where you can move cards and stickies around as if you were in person is now found in tools like Mural and in Miro," Shore says.
Shore puts emphasis on the importance of communication techniques when collaborating remotely. One of the indicators of a successful team room includes fast and effective communication among team members.
He shares his findings among people who worked in great physical collaboration environments, and some of the suggestions to improve remote collaboration include socializing with team members and making time connecting with them through "virtual coffee breaks" and having chat channels for greetings. Another is ensuring safety in the virtual environment, as anything can be recorded. Work on clear guidelines on when it is appropriate to record conversations, or create private channels exclusively accessible to the team.
It’s also important that team members respect their differences in access, which includes internet bandwidth and differences in countries, and talking about what everyone in the team needs to ensure effective communication.
"When your team establishes their working agreements, make a point of discussing how you’ll collaborate," Shore says.
Is remote working a challenge towards Agility? Although Shore admits that collaboration is easier when people work together in the same location, he explains that remote collaboration can be just as Agile when carefully designed.
"Remember that the goal is to maximize the performance of the team, not the individual. As work progresses, be sure to evaluate and improve your communication techniques frequently."
Listen to our discussion with James Shore on Agile development and its application in remote working environments in this episode of Coding Over Cocktails - a podcast by TORO Cloud.