The gap intelligence Product Development department has always valued having a (mostly) co-located software engineering team. It strengthens our collaboration and work is fun when we are together. However, we also have four remote workers and our San Diego team sometimes works from home, so becoming more remote-friendly has consistently been one of our goals.
We decided to turn this unfortunate time into the perfect opportunity to work on that goal. Like many other companies, gap intelligence transitioned to working fully remote a few weeks ago in order to do our part to flatten the COVID-19 curve. In a short time frame (though it FEELS like an eternity), three changes have already made a noticeable impact on our team and will continue to do so when we return to seeing each other IRL(In real life).
Improved Written Communication
Our asynchronous communication has improved significantly. Gone are the days of side conversations and quick verbal clarifications. Clear, detailed, and timely comments in our Pivotal Tracker tickets have become essential to minimizing in-progress work and move stories forward to ‘done’.
Process documentation has increased. Taking the time to reduce tribal knowledge, document complicated processes, or complex logic has given the team more independence and confidence in their work.
We are also more responsive and mindful about communicating our availability in Slack, so no one feels ignored. We have more written group discussions instead of just verbally chatting with the developers in the same room. Continuing this behavior will give our remote workers the opportunity to be more involved and informed.
Better Scrum Ceremonies
Our meeting etiquette has improved. It’s become harder to rely upon post-meeting chats, so we’ve become better at taking advantage of the time we have together virtually. Our daily scrums have become more valuable, detailed, and collaborative.
Attendance, though optional, at our Sprint Demos has increased two-fold. Our first quarantined demo was the most well attended we’ve ever had. Higher attendance remotely will likely translate into higher attendance physically, once our office opens again. The better attended our demos are, the more gapper feedback we get.
The quality of our retrospectives has also improved. Our first 100% virtual retro felt more efficient and effective. Cross talk was limited, which improved everyone’s ability to share and be heard. Also, since everyone had their own camera, it gave each individual the spotlight when sharing their post sprint experience.
Remote Inclusive Culture
Culture is very important to gappers, as a whole, and the Product Development team is no different. We have had to find creative ways to spend time together virtually. Our bi-weekly morning meditation sessions and gappy hours have now become virtual. Even though we have been physically apart, we are now closer than ever after supporting each other through this challenging time. By continuing to offer virtual access to team activities, it will help our offsite employees feel less isolated and more connected to the onsite crew.
gap intelligence’s Product Development team has little attrition. Together we have worked a combination of 76 years at gap intelligence and have an average tenure of five years. Some of us have been working together for over a decade. Distance certainly makes the heart grow fonder. While we are looking forward to being back together in the same room, we will make the best of this experience and focus on making our team stronger overall. We will carry what we have learned during this time into the future and commit to better supporting our permanently remote employees.
Do you have what it take to be a gapper? We’re hiring. Head to our culture section to learn more about open positions. We’re conducting phone interviews as we work towards flattening the curve. Stay safe and healthy. We’re all in this together.