Staying Productive As An All Remote Team
Is it actually possible?
Stacey Marks, Engineer
Mar. 05, 2020
If you work remotely, can you really be part of a productive team with decent cohesion?
With the right tools in place and proper time management, it's less complicated than most people may think.
Our team effectively manages this on a daily basis with a few simple rules and a few simple tools.
In terms of general communication, our team is constantly connected over Slack. Whether it’s through messaging or voice calls, planned meetings or impromptu coding sessions, it’s never too difficult to get a hold of anyone. Screen sharing is also commonly utilized, which makes coding and problem solving as a pair or a group much easier. Even when working on different schedules and in different time zones, we’ve never encountered any serious issues.
Having a variety of channels to help keep us organized makes being on top of work pretty effortless. I never think twice about what work I am forgetting to complete and who I might clash with on tasks. I am, personally, on autopilot using the following tools every day:
Slack + Standup
Our team has a stand-up slack channel, which is exactly what you'd expect it to be. Each morning we post our plan for the day, as well as what we’ve accomplished on the previous workday.
Daily standup allows for transparency on what we're all setting out to achieve. This makes it not only much easier to avoid conflicts but also encourages us to assist each other if we have any pieces of advice to offer.
If we anticipate we’ll need help with certain tasks that day, or have any schedule irregularities, we also make notes in our standups to increase general clarity of where everyone is.
Jira + Agile
Jira allows us to keep track of everyone’s individual upcoming, current, and past tasks. We can comment on each task as needed regarding any questions or concerns, as well as tag other team members to get them in the loop.
We mainly run on a 2-week Agile system with at least biweekly meetings, where we go over the progress we've made in the previous sprint and the expectations for the upcoming sprint.
Timely is time tracking software that easily allows users to keep track of what they did and when. You can add a personalized description to each entry, allowing employees to get as granular as they like with their weekly time spent on various projects.
FOSTERING CULTURE AS A REMOTE TEAM
According to The Harvard Business Review, a positive work culture leads to higher productivity. Even though growing a positive culture at a remote company may be a little harder compared to businesses with office spaces, it is still an achievable goal.
Communication over slack isn’t all business all the time. We have a random channel for anything non-work related: informative infographics, jokes, memes, etc. Most of the time content is coding-related, but it doesn’t have to be. Additionally, we try to organize dinner meetups and co-working days if we’re in the same city. It’s not quite the weekly happy hour, but it is nice to connect in person when time and location allow. All of this helps to establish personalities and offers an opportunity to view our co-workers as people we can relate to instead of just a stranger behind a screen.
PROBLEM SOLVING SESSIONS
A recent addition to our work flow we've found incredibly valuable has been regularly scheduled calls between our engineers and a senior engineer. This time is dedicated to problem-solving, which is great for several reasons:
Pausing on issues where we may be blocked and avoid deep and potentially unproductive trips down the rabbit hole
Continuing to complete other tasks in the meantime
Getting help from a senior engineer when providing help is their focus, rather than pulling them away from other work
With the aforementioned in place, working as a cohesive unit isn't as hard as people may think. You can take a look at everything the Future Foundry team has accomplished as an all remote team here on our website!
Are there any helpful tools your company uses? Let us know!