This is a great question that many Global companies are struggling with. I haven't come across any particular whitepapers about remote teams, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
One of the most important things I have found is to ensure distributed team members have plenty of bandwidth so they can have video chats on a moment's notice and be able to participate with other online collaboration tools. There are plenty of tools out there to help facilitate teamwork- such as GoogleDocs, Trello, Boardthing, Scrumblr, and Sococo- ranging from free to use to some cost associated with advanced features. It's 2017 - we have the technology to break down the barriers of distance, the challenge is finding the right fit for you and your teams.
I have read dozens of articles regarding remote team collaboration, and I always come away with the impression that much, if not most, of the best practices being described are not revolutionary, but commonsensical - in the sense that we all generally know what is critical. Top 5, based on my research, and not in any particular order: 1) impeccable AV tools (in fact, many of the articles I have read were sales pitches written by technology firms promoting their own AV or collaboration tools as their solution), 2) flawless collaboration tools - nor necessarily AV - think white-boarding, trello, spark/slack, etc... 3) shared goals, shared involvement by all team members and evenly distributed interesting work, 4) cross cultural understanding and respect for time differences, 5) face to face meetings whenever possible. I have come to the conclusion that there is no "silver bullet". In my experience cross-geographical distributed teams work when there is real commitment to making it work - team members really, really need to want it to work. And discipline. It takes time and energy to manage the (irksome, routine and logistical) details consistently - every day - by everyone - so that the basic infrastructure just works. No silver bullet - just 3 hard realities: Desire / Commitment / Discipline.
Posted: 5 years ago
Posted: 30 Aug 2017 14:49 EDT
Brian Albere (ALBEB)
Pega Technology Scrum Master
A tactic that a couple of my teams use having a constant Skype call going all day long that everyone is on. Then, you can always ask someone a question like they're right there in the room.
Like Alex said, I don't think there is any silver bullet. However, one tactic you can implement is what one of my teams did a few years ago. We had a few remote members, and we committed to making the first topic of every retrospective be "Are we communicating enough? Do our remote members feel included enough? Despite the difference in time zone, are we consistently on the same page day-to-day". We tried tons of different tools and approaches over the course of 6 months, and we eventually settled on using Slack for written communication (the remote members felt much more included when people started consistently using Slack), and having a continuous Skype call running throughout the day. Overall, however, I don't think it was the tools or processes that actually made the difference. Committing to having the conversation every retrospective reinforced the importance of communication (sometimes even over-communicating to ensure a lack of communication wasn't happening), and it helped build the habit of continuously thinking about what needs to communicated to everyone throughout the day. It was the change in mindset, thoughts, and behavior that actually made the difference, and those only happened by having the conversation every 2 weeks.