Inside Elements

5 min read

A Scrum Master toolbox to support team work from home

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Written by Caroline Erhart

Like many other companies, Elements has had to adapt to a new way of working together because of Covid-19.

Elements already had experience in remote work since working from home five days a month was implemented in July 2019. But a government imposed lock-down brought Elements to a new level: working from home 5 days a week for everybody! We therefore had to adapt our way of working together.

Here is my “Remote Scrum Master” toolbox and some practical tips for any agile team working remotely.

Agile ceremonies

Meeting tools

Tools: Microsoft Teams, Google Meet

As an agile company, we are used to agile ceremonies. For daily standup meetings or casual team calls, the Covid-19 lock-down didn’t require a lot of changes since we were used to having one or two team members working from home. The only difference was the number of remote colleagues.

Our main meeting tool is Microsoft Teams, but when we want every members’ webcam to be displayed at the same time (that is the case for Retrospective meetings) we prefer to use Google Meet with the Grid View extension.

Retrospective meetings

Introduction: Sprint numbers quiz

Tool: Microsoft Power Point
At the beginning of each retro, we begin by checking sprint indicators and last actions progress.
For this first part, I like to turn it into a quiz for each member to compare their sprint vision with reality.

Powerpoint of sprint number to for retrospective
Powerpoint transitions for Sprint number quiz

Set the stage: Team Mood

Tool: Google Slides (with edit rights shared among company members)
Regarding the “set the stage” part of the retro, we use collaborative activities like this “Team Mood” board done with a shared Google Slides document.

Animated set the stage activity for retrospective
Team Mood activity

Gather Data / Generate Insights / Decide what to do

Tool: TeamRetro

For the next retro steps, we tested several tools but the one which fits our needs the best is TeamRetro. We found it useful because we were able to

  • show our “post-its” all at the same time
  • easily generate insights, group ideas and find follow-up actions for all steps of the retrospective
Teamretro virtual post-its
Our retrospective virtual post-its with TeamRetro

Poker planning

Tool: Planning poker online

A simple and efficient tool to play poker planning like in real life!

Poker planning game during refinement meeting
Poker planning game during refinement meeting

White board

Tool: Google Slides (with edit rights shared among company members)

When we were all at the office, we used to display all sorts of information on our white boards. It was the occasion to share information with all Elements colleagues.

For instance, one of our regular displays is our “Sprint objectives poster”: for each sprint we define sprint objectives during Sprint planning. Then we create a fun poster with the name of the sprint and its objectives, and display it on a white board.

Since we didn’t have a real white board, we created a virtual one with a shared Google Slide document on which everybody can find and add information.

Sprint objective posters
Some of our sprint objectives posters

Newcomer integration

Integrating newcomers remotely sounded complicated, but we found tools and an organization to welcome and make new people progress and feel included as though we were together in the office.

Onboarding

Tool: Trello

We already had a solid onboarding process with a 3 week program for all newcomers. In order to facilitate it while remote, each newcomer now has his/her own Onboarding Trello.

He/She will easily find on this board:

  • onboarding task checklist
  • links to important wiki pages
  • pictures and information on his/her new colleagues
Onboarding Trello
Onboarding Trello

Integration follow-up

Tool: Google Slides (with edit rights shared among company members)

On our virtual white board, we included onboarding details of our recent newcomers.

He/she can share his/her integration progress to everybody in the company by ticking of steps with colored virtual stickers.

Virtual board developer integration follow-up
Developer integration follow-up

Creating new habits for our team working from home

Some events were already in place before the Covid lock-down, and were particularly important while we were physically separated.

This is the case of our Elements Vox & Talks, which is a weekly event where all Elements members can share news, tips, or interesting subjects (read more about Vox here and Talks here).

But lock-down made us think of new ideas to bring spice to Elements’ life and to help keep links between colleagues.

Elements Confinement Painting

Tool: AWWapp

Lock-down gave us idea to begin our weekly “Elements Confinement paintings” (confinement was the official term in France for the lock-down): each Friday, everybody could express that week’s feelings on a shared drawing board.

Weekly paintings we kept on our Virtual White Board
Weekly paintings we kept on our Virtual White Board

AperoVox

Another event which appeared during lock-down is the “AperoVox” which occurred each time a newcomer arrived.

After an Elements Vox event, we organized a game for Elements team members to get to know each other.

Collaborative personal map

Tool: AWWapp

One time we did a collaborative personal map of all Elements team members.

In 20 minutes, everybody added information they knew on other Elements members (family, hobbies, fun facts, …).

Then we reviewed it together and learned a lot of interesting things!

Elements collaborative personal map
Elements collaborative personal map

Elements members quiz

Tool: Kahoot!

Another time, we used Kahoot! to create a quiz with questions to check our knowledge of our colleagues (“how many Elements members are native from a country other than France?”, “who is an arm wrestling champion?”).

Katoot quiz question
an Elements members quiz question

Life after lock-down: transitioning from an all remote agile team to a partial remote team

Now that the lock-down is over (for the moment!) and some colleagues have begun to come back to office, it’s very pleasant to meet our colleagues the old way!

But that also bring new concerns: how to manage a mixed local/remote team? what are habits we can keep from this total-remote phase? There certainly are challenges in managing a remote agile team and now a partial remote team. We’re always trying new ideas and trying to implement best practices for working from home to continuously improve.

Sound like a team you’d like to join? Check out our careers page to learn more.