With the world shifting to a work from home environment almost overnight, many businesses and business leaders found themselves unequipped to deal with the sudden shift in dynamic. The world is running an experiment in home working at a scale we would never consider at any other time.

In the first week of April 2020, Michael Page Middle East hosted a webinar featuring guest speaker Mark Gray, AGILE Coach and Practitioner (former Emirates Airline Agile Coach with over 30 years’ experience). Mark covered topics such as self organisation, process improvement, clear communication, productivity measurement and defining value in a work from home environment. We summarize the takeaways from the session below.

How to Adapt

Business change on this scale is normally undertaken after extensive investigation and thorough planning. Time and planning areluxuries we unfortunately can no longer afford. In today’s environment the following practices now need to be urgently considered and re-evaluated:

  • How do we support the well-being and ensure the productivity of the workforce?

  • What are the best ways to stay connected to our teams and engaged as employees?

  • Are commitments given to our customers, and by our suppliers, still feasible?

  • What do performance reviews and appraisals look like now?

  • How do we rapidly adapt to constantly changing situations?

Step in Agile

Teams built on Agile principles create a workforce that is better enabled to deal with distributed team members, periods of uncertainty and shifting parameters. Adopting Agile principles now will offer short term improvements and build the basis for longer term business change and transformation.

Opportunities in Times of Crisis

Periods of great change and uncertainty present new business opportunities and markets that can be exploited. Trying to maintain the current (old) way of working and approaching problems in most cases will not be sustainable in this new environment. Agile teams are:

  • Great at remote working

  • Require minimal management intervention

  • More productive

  • Enablers of employee empowerment

  • Adaptable to change

Implementing Agile Practices from Home

Structure and Setting

  • Maintain a schedule to give structure to your day

  • Even working at home, you should have a start and end time

  • Agree core working hours when all the team will be available, this should cover at least 75% of the working day

  • You should be as contactable as you would be in the office

  • During breaks you usually have a chat around the water cooler, try to maintain this habit with other home working colleges

Agile Principles

  • Have daily virtual stand-up for the whole team at the start of core working hours to plan and check in with colleagues

  • Break work down into small meaningful pieces that can be completed in a few days at most

  • Always work in at least a pair and maintain an open communication channel at all times

  • Strict scheduling of interactions involving a large number of people is essential combined with good conference discipline

  • Managers have to take a passive role and trust the team to deliver

Virtual Meeting Best Practice

  • Prior to a meeting ensure that an outcome and timebox are assigned and understood

  • If possible, issue an agenda along with expected timing

  • Ensure everyone has the video enabled for the human element and connection

  • Follow up conversations between subsets of the group should happen immediately

  • Nominate a chair for the meeting and have them start by reminding people of the ground rules, this role should rotate around the team

Technology Enablers

  • Reliable internet connection and phone line are essential

  • Check microphone and camera are working prior to any meeting

  • Allow the team to choose their preferred collaboration tools

  • Effective collaboration needs multiple active communication channels

  • Creating a dedicated work environment

To learn more about how you can quickly and easily adopt some basic principles of Agile into your organisation we highly recommend watching the full recording of the webinar.

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