Future of Work is Now: High Performing Agile Teams

The workplaces of the future are fluid. What do we mean? Well, your employees may not actually be your employees, but instead are a combination of freelancers, longer-term contracts, and employment per project. With the gig-economy expected to become the new standard, the big questions are, “how do you maintain high quality output?" and "how do you create high performing agile teams?"

Build Culture over Structure

Culture is the most important ingredient when it comes to retention, output, and building healthy, motivated teams. In order to thrive in the burgeoning workplace you need to be able to build effective culture in remote environments. Don’t let this scare you, the foundation for this is simple:

  1. Make sure you have good communication pathways

Whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Slack, or another platform - make sure you’ve clearly established your communications for file sharing, messaging, team calls, and outbound communications.

  1. Make sure you have a way of measuring productivity/accountability

You don’t need to be a helicopter boss tracking every keystroke, but you do need to be able to keep track of project progress and hold your teams accountable - especially if you are subcontracting to specialists that charge by the hour.

  1. Be really clear about your company mission and messaging

This is the biggest supporter of culture building- make sure everyone that works with you knows what your company stands for, and what your mission-goals are. A great way to do this is through company message houses that provide context and purpose to your products, and give everyone a central document to pull from to create other content and communications.

  1. Build a social environment

The key to creating an effective social environment is to build it into the hours that your team is already contracted to work. Social work events should not get in the habit of conflicting with personal lives. The goal is work/life balance. This could be accomplished as simply as enforcing video on all team calls, and opening with regular ice breakers - to setting up a monthly morning coffee call, and allowing team members to create their own internal interest groups.

  1. Have clear designations for leadership

Regardless of if you are working with 100% full-time teams, 100% contracted teams, or agile hybrid teams - knowing who to go to, and who is leading initiatives is essential for directing workflow and mitigating conflicts.

Collaborate not cooperate

A strong team is a team that builds and creates together - not one that’s forced to get along. Agile teams are naturally successful at collaborating since each member is selected for the skills they can contribute. The other component to successful collaboration is scope. Setting clear project expectations and then allowing your team to strategize the best way to achieve is infinitely more effective than micro-managing initiatives. Think of collaboration as an organic result of working together towards a common goal, and cooperation as a shared ownership towards a goal. Why is shared ownership inferior to collaboration? Collaborating offers the opportunity for individual successes and achievements within the project, while cooperation can mean that some individuals are performing much higher than others but there is no recognition or delineation among team members.

Have hard conversations

The best results lie on the other side of tough conversations. In any type of team - but especially when dealing with agile teams - having direct conversations helps to set and keep expectations while also creating a sense of responsibility. Just because you are remote and employing contracted workers does not mean that your company should give up control. This topic is probably one of the scariest for companies newly working with agile teams. How do you maintain authority if they are not your full-time employee relying solely on you for their full salary? The answer is to give up the idea of income as the end-all-be-all of motivating employees. The gig economy and hybrid work culture is passion-driven - people who have left full-time positions to pursue their own interests. So oddly, the gig economy is managed more by reputation than by dollars and cents.

Take ownership

This brings us to ownership; particularly the ownership of processes. When working with remote and agile teams - processes become the most critical kink to iron out. Where and when are deliverables submitted? Who is reviewing? What is the QA process? How are timelines tracked and goals met? Who is responsible for what? We’ll let you in on a secret. Ownership is easy to manage if the company culture is collaborative and the expectations are clear, and there are many tools around to help.We’ve talked about culture but when it comes to ownership there are a few key takeaways:Vetting is importantSince you are expecting to work in an environment that is either fully or partially remote, with teams that are a hybrid of agile talent and full-time contributors - who you add to the team has a huge impact on productivity. It can be hard to navigate through recruiters and resumes so partnering with a platform that evaluates and pairs technical experts with companies eliminates a lot of the stress of hiring, as well as instantly enforces accountability and project requirements through management and clear objectives.Shared WorkspacesThis one is so simple it can sometimes get missed but a shared workspace encourages collaboration while also supporting accountability. Working from team docs, keeping folders clear and shared, and having collaborative project spaces not only consolidates your efforts making them easy to track - but brings visibility to individuals - not just for leadership but for fellow team members.Partnerships MatterThe undeniable truth of the future of work is that third-party services, integrations, and agile teams will be at the core of successful ventures. Why? The tech landscape is growing exponentially and no single company can successfully build and manage all facets and all tools. As we like to say, in the future of work every company is a tech company, let us help you build yours today.