Building Trust in Remote Agile Teams: Best Practices from Opreto

4 minute read

The heartbeat of an Agile team is its people, and trust is the rhythm that binds them. It isn’t just about believing in each other’s capabilities but about fostering a shared vision and mutual respect. At Opreto, we’ve recognized that trust is the bedrock of every successful Agile team. Whether our teams work in person or are separated by thousands of kilometers, this trust remains pivotal. Through our journey, we’ve discovered practices that nurture this bond, ensuring cohesion and drive, regardless of distance. We’re excited to share the methods that have solidified trust within our teams, leading to consistent excellence.

Trust isn’t merely a byproduct in the Agile framework—it’s foundational. The very principles and values that underpin Agile emphasize transparency, respect, and collaboration. Trust is the channel that brings these principles to life, influencing every interaction, decision, and outcome. When trust is present, teams are empowered to perform at their peak, leading to projects that often exceed expectations. Conversely, lacking trust can stifle communication, hinder innovation, and ultimately jeopardize project outcomes. This profound impact of trust underscores its significance in the Agile landscape.

Operating as a fully remote shop at Opreto presents unique challenges in building and maintaining this trust. The absence of face-to-face interactions can sometimes create a sense of detachment, making it harder to gauge emotions or intentions. There’s a heightened risk of misunderstandings without the nuances of non-verbal cues. Recognizing these challenges is the first step, and devising strategies to navigate them is essential to our success.

To address these challenges and ensure our teams remain cohesive and practical, we’ve instituted a set of best practices at Opreto:

Regular Check-ins and Updates

Our commitment to regular check-ins and updates has been a cornerstone in maintaining team cohesion. Daily stand-ups, especially in a remote setting, ensure everyone is aligned and aware of the day’s priorities. Additionally, 1:1 meetings with the team architect provide an avenue for more in-depth discussions, guidance, and mentorship. But how do we strike the right balance between connection and comfort when it comes to camera usage? Dive into our philosophy on being “on” when it counts to discover the Opreto approach to adaptable camera use.

Standard Operating Hours

Consistency is always crucial, but that’s especially true when working remotely. We define standard operating hours, aiming for a 6-hour window that aligns with when the client is available, where the whole team needs to be available. This dedicated window ensures we’re open for internal collaboration and readily accessible to our clients. It streamlines work processes, fosters timely communication, and ensures team members can bond, discuss issues, schedule meetings, and collaborate effectively.

Clear Communication Protocols

Our dynamic communication ecosystem blends various tools tailored to the task at hand. Video chat is invaluable for team meetings and client interactions. For more intensive, hands-on tasks, pairing sessions with audio becomes the focal point, allowing team members to dive deep into code and collaborate in real time. Meanwhile, Slack is our digital hallway, facilitating quick exchanges, updates, and casual conversations. By leveraging this mix, we ensure that every conversation, whether a brainstorming session or a quick check-in, is effective, transparent, and aligned with our objectives.

Fostering a Culture of Feedback

Our team retrospectives are more than just a formality; they’re a platform where issues are addressed, successes are celebrated, and collective growth is prioritized. We’ve cultivated an environment where open dialogue and constructive criticism are celebrated. All of the feedback we receive is viewed as a stepping stone leading towards refinement and enhancement.

Investing in Team Building Activities

Work is essential, but so is relaxation and bonding. Beyond our professional commitments, we invest time in virtual team-building exercises and games. One of our teams even has a tradition of hosting a video game day, underscoring our belief in the importance of relaxation and camaraderie for a balanced work environment. Even though our foundation is deeply rooted in remote collaboration, we value the unique depth of in-person interactions. With this appreciation, we’re in the (very) early stages of planning a yearly or bi-yearly gathering, envisioning an event that brings our team members face-to-face, allowing deeper connection, collaboration, and bonding, further solidifying the ties that bind us.

Our practices of fostering feedback and investing in team-building activities are not just standalone initiatives; they are reflections of the leadership’s commitment to building trust. Leading by example, the transparency and openness from the top set the tone for the entire organization. It’s about providing the necessary support and resources ensuring every team member feels valued and empowered. Recognizing and addressing potential trust issues proactively is a testament to leadership’s dedication to maintaining a harmonious and productive environment. At Opreto, leadership is pivotal in building trust and continuously nurturing and strengthening.

At the heart of Opreto’s success lies a blend of trust, collaboration, and leadership. Each effort, whether it’s championing open feedback or investing in team-building, highlights our dedication to shaping a united and empowered team. Leadership’s role in this journey is paramount, setting the tone through transparency, support, and proactive engagement. As we navigate the evolving landscape of remote work, these foundational principles guide us, ensuring that we meet our professional goals and cultivate an environment where every team member thrives.