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Pattern: Remote Teams

If teams must be distributed, whether across a city or a continent, build in regular in person retreats/work sessions as well as robust channels for close and free-flowing communication

A company is solving complex and relatively difficult business problems, and many team members are working remotely from one another.

In This Context

In many organizations remote team members may rarely, or even never, meet face to face. That works as long as the problems being solved by those teams are reasonably well-defined and not very complex. In the complex world of cloud native,however, problems are often messy and difficult, and require a more open-ended and collaborative approach.Without a strong aim for collaborative co-creation, the team’s ability to generate innovative solutions is typically limited to the creative abilities of individual team members working separately.
• Distributed workforces are increasingly common, and a team can have members scattered across a country, a continent, or the entire globe.
• The cloud native approach rests upon teams being given goals to achieve alongwith the freedom to decide how to execute them.
• In a predictable environment, little communication is required for executing stableworkloads.
• Problem-solving without talking to anyone else means you are solving the problem separately, not collaboratively.

Therefore

Put programs in place to connect remote teams and bring them together in every way possible, both physically and virtually.In the complex world of cloud native, problems are often messy and difficult, andrequire a more open-ended and collaborative approach. Working well this way requires in-person relationships, honest feedback, and close communication. If teams must be scattered, then regular face-to-face meeting times and other ways to connect the individual members need to be prioritized in order for them to be an effective cloud native workforce.
• Hold regularly scheduled in-person team retreats/gatherings/offsite work sessions.
• Open multiple channels of communication using tools like Slack to keep teams inconstant and fluent contact.
• Make use of other tools like video conferencing, remote whiteboarding, and virtual fika sessions (see below) to keep members connected and working closely.
• In the end, there is no real substitute for personal interaction, sharing a meal, etc.
• If possible, don’t distribute a team until it is already mature and has created strong internal connections.

Consequently

Teams see each other regularly in person and in between stay engaged via multiple channels and practices that promote fluent communication. Ideas are created, validated, and implemented in groups instead of coming from individuals.
+ Increased productivity and innovation are a natural outcome of closer ties with co-collaborators.
+ Regularly scheduled events—both daily hangout sessions and quarterly meetups—are easy to plan around so work is not disrupted.
- Offsite retreats, though important, are an additional operating expense.