The impact of agile collaboration in a hybrid workplace is a boon for businesses that want to get ahead. It allows you to hire the best talent from all over the world while supercharging your workflows to get the edge on your competition.
However, big changes don’t happen overnight. That’s why at Bitrix24, we’ve put together seven keys to succeed as you adopt agile methodologies and make the transition to a hybrid office.
Before going into our seven keys, we must first define what agile collaboration is and how it applies to a hybrid workplace.
One of the critical concepts behind agile methods is continuous improvement. Collaboration in agile methodology isn’t just a one-off event but a continuous process. It involves regular meetings, usually in the form of daily standups, and an iterative mindset whereby small adjustments are made at regular intervals to improve a product.
Contradictorily, agile working is based on a rigid structure. Perhaps the most famous example of agile working is scrum methodology, which is divided into five key phases:
Planning and estimates
Review and retrospective
This strict, predictable structure allows teams to set most processes onto autopilot, freeing up headspace for creativity.
As a final point on agile collaboration, we’re going to look at the philosophy of openness, transparency, and communication. To streamline the creative process, agile methodology aims to remove any blockers to collaboration, such as siloing, unclear goals, and confusing instructions. Most teams will adopt agile collaboration tools to promote a more productive environment, such as:
Video conferencing software to bring virtual teams together
Powerful task management tools to lay out clear and consistent instructions
Collaborative documents to facilitate simultaneous working and keep clear records
Applying agile methods in an office space is relatively straightforward. You have everyone around you for standup meetings and can easily bring people together to review and enhance your workflows.
However, it’s quite a different question for remote work, and combining the two can be even more challenging. So now we will delve into our seven keys for making agile collaboration succeed in a hybrid workplace.
For a system to work efficiently, you need everybody to be on the same page from the outset. This is even more important in the context of a hybrid workplace where the dynamics of team interaction and collaboration can change significantly.
Switching from office-based work to a blend of office and remote work creates a unique set of challenges and opportunities, and a hybrid agile collaboration policy is the first step in navigating this new landscape.
Your policy should outline the behavior, processes, and agile methods needed for seamless teamwork. From guides on how to use agile collaboration tools such as project management platforms, communication apps, and shared documents to meeting and communication schedules, your policy is an all-encompassing roadmap for your employees to adapt to a hybrid format.
As an example, agile work policies should set clear expectations such as:
An introduction to the benefits of hybrid agile workflows
Rules on how and when your team should communicate
How to structure an agile meeting
Guides for how to use cloud-based tools
Work hours and availability
Respect for said work hours and personal time
How to provide feedback on the policy
Switching to a hybrid workplace doesn’t mean throwing out all your workflows and starting again from zero. With a bit of creative thinking, you will be able to translate your best in-office workflows into an efficient online format.
Transitioning to the cloud begins with identifying the right tools for your team. These tools should align with your team's workflows and should be easy to use to ensure quick adoption. Once you’ve selected your tools, the next step is to migrate your existing workflows to these platforms. This might involve launching projects on a project management platform, moving files to a cloud-based document-sharing tool, or opening communication channels on a messaging app.
The best project management tools will allow you to set up clear, structured workflows and save them as templates on the cloud. When it comes to launching repetitive projects, you can retrieve your template, make any modifications necessary, then get down to business.
For effective team collaboration, it’s not good enough to simply introduce new tools for your workflows and expect your team to learn on the job. As you might expect, training is a crucial part of this transition. Work on providing engaging sessions that help your team members buy into the new tools. Highlight key features and how they will make people’s life easier, and work on a cheat sheet for how to troubleshoot basic issues.
Striking the balance between comprehensive and engaging training is vital if you want to succeed in the transition to a hybrid office. Nobody wants to feel overwhelmed by new tools, so stick to the most relevant areas. Practical tasks in the safe environment of a training session allow you to check that your team has fully understood a specific concept, at which point you can move on to the next stage. Another way to avoid teams feeling overwhelmed is to demonstrate how to manage notifications to avoid overflowing inboxes.
An especially effective approach to training is the “train-the-trainer” model, which involves training a few team members in the new tools and giving them the task of training the rest of the team. This has the secondary advantages of saving yourself time and providing an environment for team members to get to know each other.
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Your hybrid agile collaboration policy will cover many areas, but one of the most important sections for virtual teams will be on how to balance live and asynchronous collaboration. Remote teams can often be in different time zones, so a healthy blend of live and asynchronous work is paramount.
Taking live collaboration first, team members can communicate using video calls, regular phone calls, and instant messaging. Try to reserve essential tasks that need immediate feedback for when your team is active simultaneously for maximum productivity. Brainstorming tasks and meetings for key decisions are the kinds of tasks that work best for live collaboration.
On the other hand, asynchronous collaboration is ideal for tasks where people need to work independently at their own pace, then communicate updates when it is convenient. For example, a social media manager creating a content calendar usually won’t need immediate feedback, so it is a great task for asynchronous collaboration.
Emails may come to mind as a good communication tool for asynchronous work. However, we’d recommend keeping all updates on the relevant task card in your project management software. That way, all participants can access a clear progress timeline without needing a time-consuming call to fully understand an email chain.
One of the dangers of remote work is that people can feel isolated and detached from their team. This can lead to demotivation and, ultimately, high turnover. And while it’s difficult to prioritize in high-pressure environments, social cohesion is an essential part of team collaboration. Without the coffee breaks and lunch hours ingrained in office settings, managers need to facilitate online interactions aside from task-based conversations.
A simple way of boosting connections between team members is to create channels for social chat. For example, a thread for people who love gaming can bond a segment of your team and even create cross-departmental links. Similarly, you could create internal efforts to connect people around a good cause, such as an ESG committee. Alternatively, you could create online events such as Friday afternoon quizzes, Thursday morning coffee breaks, and celebrations for hitting milestones.
With closer bonds between your remote workers, you achieve one of the key tenets of agile methodology: fluid communication. You’ll break down the insecurity of reaching out to an unknown team member and create an environment where all your team members have each other’s backs.
When working in a hybrid office, you have a unique set of challenges that neither fully remote teams nor fully in-office teams experience. As an example, we’ll focus here on how to get equal participation from both teams.
Effective collaboration in agile methodology requires equal participation from all team players, and it’s much better to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to guaranteeing that. Therefore, before launching your hybrid format, run a risk management exercise to identify where collaboration could break down between teams and create plans to mitigate them.
For example, it’s very easy for in-office teams to run a quick face-to-face meeting and make decisions without communicating them to your remote workers. Therefore, refer to your hybrid agile collaboration policy and insist that all meetings take place on a cloud-based platform to avoid inconsistent communication and feelings of alienation.
Other issues to look out for include burnout among your remote workers. Rather than dealing with a problem once it has already arisen, schedule recurring meetings to check in on your remote workers and offer help. Potential solutions could include more social interactions or paying for a coworking space to help remote workers to make a distinction between their home and their office.
Closely linked to our previous point is being open to feedback. Agile collaboration involves changing your strategy when it isn’t working, so allow your policy to be a living document. Even with the best planning in the world, you can’t understand your employees’ experience unless you give them a safe space to sound out their ideas.
Aside from the practical changes you can make to accommodate suggestions, your open-door policy reassures your team that their opinion matters, which will help them feel more aligned with your company goals.
In the spirit of agile work, you can experiment with different feedback channels. One-on-one video meetings are an ideal option for that personal touch, but not everybody wants to open up in front of their boss. For more sensitive suggestions, you can create anonymous feedback forms to get a deeper insight into difficulties.
These channels aren’t just for resolving issues, however. Agile collaboration is fertile ground for innovative improvements to your workflow. Team members can provide unique insights and ideas which can be invaluable in improving your efficiency and bottom line.
Agile collaboration and hybrid workplaces aren’t just trends and buzzwords, they’re a necessity in today's work environment. But to successfully implement agile methodologies and transition to a hybrid workplace, you need powerful tools that work both in the office and on the cloud.
Bitrix24 is an all-in-one platform where you can get all the apps you need in one place:
Project management tools with agile visualizations like Kanban boards
A full suite of communication channels for both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration
A document management system so your in-house and remote workers are all on the same page
So if you want to get a jump on the competition with agile working, sign up for Bitrix24 today.
Agile collaboration is a flexible, iterative approach to teamwork that emphasizes open communication, adaptability, and the delivery of value in small, manageable increments. It's a key component of agile methodologies.
Agile teams collaborate through regular communication, iterative planning, and continuous feedback. They make good use of agile collaboration tools such as:
Agile principles enhance collaboration in a hybrid workplace by promoting adaptability, continuous improvement, and effective communication. They encourage teams to embrace change, learn from feedback, and leverage collaboration tools to work effectively, regardless of location.
Successful collaboration in a hybrid work environment involves: