Whilst I’ve been enjoying the last few years of remote work due to COVID, I’ve recently been doing some work in person again. I noticed a number of things that I hadn’t realised were missing because we were required to work remotely for quite some time. I’m based in Melbourne Australia, which has been one the cities subject to some of the most lockdowns around the world – so we are quite used to remote work being “the new normal”. However, after spending some time in person again, I have noticed a few things that I hadn’t realised were missing.
I’ve found it much easier to forge personal relationships whilst being in person again. Little things like being able to lock a 3D person in the eye (rather than pictures under glass) – make it easier to establish trust. Also, other things like the handshake or a little pat on the back or high five just aren’t the same when things are remote. Those “hallway conversations” just don’t happen when things are remote – I know you can quickly call someone up on Zoom or Teams, ping them on Slack, but again nothing helps build trust like seeing the real person and having the conversation. You make all kinds of new connections to both people and the work in a more organic way that just isn’t possible remotely. I think there is something inherently more human about building relationships in that way – it’s not all pre-planned are scheduled.
Physical Kanban Boards
Another great advantage is that we can use physical Kanban boards once again. There are a number of advantages to using physical boards:
- It engages people emotionally
- You have a great deal of freedom in terms of board and card design
- The physical space is helpful in reducing WiP
Although you still do have to make those data points manually rather than through the convenience of a tool. However, for those teams that are at a Maturity level 0-2 the physical board can be a great advantage. It also becomes a place where people can congregate a have a number of those more organic conversations.
There are a couple of other things that I’ve once again noticed. For those teams who are around the Kanban board or sitting together, there is a certain “hum” that goes with them. In years gone by, if I didn’t hear that “hum” it was a concern – its the sound of collaboration taking place. As we know collaboration is a key part to enabling teams to make that difference. You can’t get that sense when you’re running virtually.
Although I have really enjoyed working from home – with advantages like spending more time with family and less time in transit, there should be something said for working in person for at least some of the week. Although there have been some wonderful innovations for working remotely with agile teams such as the Remote Agility Framework, there still should be something said for work in person. We’ve been working remotely for some time now, perhaps it’s time to think not just about what we’ve gained, but perhaps about what we’ve lost along the way.