How to Make Agile Work Work for Your Team
Agile work, flexible schedule, hybrid office—these terms have become all too common in the past year. When previously they were simply ideas being considered by organizations, many of them reluctant about its efficiency as a work setup, the pandemic has forced us into this setup all too sudden and without warning. And voila, it works!
We have discovered that agile work has real benefits, for both employers and employees. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics President Kate Lister told Recode that about 70% of the workforce is likely to work remotely by 2025. On the other hand, a survey recently conducted by Hackajob showed that about 86% of the workforce want to continue working from home.
Now this question:
How do you make agile work effective for your team?
One thing to remember is that agile work is not simply a change in schedule and not simply a transfer of workplace from within the office to outside the office. It requires several adjustments in processes, in team dynamics, and in management style.
Strengthen a culture of connection
With agile work, gone are the casual conversations that happen by the water cooler or the small talk at the office during break, all of which strengthen connection and friendship among co-workers. As a leader, you need to find a way to foster relationship and create space for connecting. This can be done with regular virtual check-ins, both group and one-on-one.
This can help members feel connected to each other and prevent the feeling of isolation that seems to prevail among workers who are forced to stay home because of the pandemic.
Create a monitoring system in place
On one hand, you want to ensure that everyone is doing the job they are supposed to do. On the other hand, you want to give your team autonomy over the work they’re doing and do not want to make them feel that they are being micromanaged or that you don’t trust them.
The first thing you can do is to establish your expectations from each member of the team. Do you have deadlines for certain work? Or perhaps shared monitoring files that keep everyone on track about running projects and where each member is at during any given moment? What’s important is that members know they are accountable.
Determine which part of the setup is flexible and which is not
In relation to the previous point, it is important to set boundaries between what can be adjusted and what must happen on a regular basis.
For instance, if you need a weekly check-in, establish that on a recurring day and time that everyone can easily remember. Or, if all work must be turned in every Friday regardless of status, then stick to the schedule as much as possible. With monitoring already a challenge with remote and agile work, it is important to create routines that can serve as anchor for your team so that you retain a semblance of regularity even if you’re all working from different locations.
Get to know your team
Do you have team members who are parents with kids that also do remote studies? Or perhaps members who are taking care of their parents at home? Or, do your team members have small and limited spaces for their work area, with not enough space for a proper office desk and workspace, or perhaps live in a noisy environment? These are things you need to know about your team members.
When managing remote teams, it will help to know the situation of your members at home so that you can create the arrangement that work for both of you best. It’s important to adjust expectations from your members and to tailor fit your approach. This doesn’t mean giving less work to those who are handling more responsibilities at home, but only creating adjustments that will work for the person so that he can deliver the tasks expected from him while he is still able to work on his family responsibilities.
This applies not only in remote work environments but even in the physical office, perhaps even more so in agile work when team members are now juggling more things on their plate on a day-to-day basis.
The goal is to create shortcut for processes, revisit the workflow to check which are redundant and can be eliminated, and see which parts of the overall process can be simplified. For instance, which of your meetings can create the same desired result (come up with a decision, disseminate information) via a group email? Now that virtual meeting fatigue has become all too real, it will help everyone if you can minimize these meetings to those with very important and specific agenda. Less stress for you, less stress for your team members.
Agile work can work, if done properly. And as much as its success is in the hands of everyone involved, much of the responsibility is on the shoulders of the leader. We hope the tips above can help you and your team in creating a successful and healthy remote work setup.
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