Remote working is more the norm than the exception for many people these days. The benefits and challenges that remote working brings are, not surprisingly, widely discussed. But agile teams, following a unique work model, face a unique set of challenges while working remotely. Let’s look at those challenges and also the solutions.

Adapting methodologies to the virtual world

Agile methodologies were developed to work in a world where the primary mode of work is in-person. Now, in the changing scenario in a post-pandemic world, teams often find it hard to adopt those in-person methodologies into a remote setup. One example is regarding the scrum board. The scrum board is a crucial tool in the efficient functioning of an agile team. But the original scrum board was envisioned as a physical tool.

So, how would you solve this issue? One way is to revise the rules and eschew what’s not completely necessary. The managers and the team members should be in tacit agreement that they would be working under a ‘best-possible-manner’ scenario, for this to work. If a methodology is found to be critical, on the other hand, every effort should be made to adapt that to the remote working setup. Once you have identified the crucial methods, you should find the best possible way to adopt those methods in the changing world. The team members should ideally be a part of the discussion in deciding the adoption methods.

Another way to mitigate the real-world to virtual world adaption problem in agility is by outsourcing certain processes that are hard to be performed in a virtual environment. There could be external service providers located in another part of the world where they could work in person and so help you out with some of the processes. Of course, this solution may not be practical in all cases, especially for companies that are working with a limited budget.


Teamwork and collaboration are important for the success of any project. This is particularly true in the case of agile projects which often rely on teams to be responsive to ad hoc requirements during the project run. But collaboration is typically harder when team members are working apart from each other. Agile teams have to finish their tasks within often short time periods called sprints. But when collaboration is disrupted, teams find it hard to make the final delivery for a sprint within the prescribed time.

But that’s not to say that collaboration needs to remain weak when working in a remote environment. As many agile teams around the world have found by now, software tools have proven more than efficient in helping them collaborate efficiently. Especially useful in this regard are project management tools which come with collaboration features that make it easy for team members to discuss, share crucial information and gather feedback among themselves.

If your company has an in-house communication tool, you could also encourage your team members to use it more often.

Balancing flexibility and productivity

Remote working, by definition, means that you wouldn’t be able to completely control the environment in which your team members function in. Team members may need to take care of multiple things aside from working, even during work hours. Instead of seeing this as a negative scenario, the smarter managers provide team members with the necessary flexibility they require to manage all their affairs- both professional and personal.

Often, the mandate is set that a team member accomplishes so much work within a given unit of time. On top of that, an additional measure prescribing the time of the day during which the employee should be working is also put in place. But more often than not, this latter measure is irrelevant. What’s important is for the team members to deliver work in a pre-determined time period. At which hours during the day they do this could be their own prerogative.

Managers tend to over-prescribe such stringent measures, especially during remote working scenarios. Given how they cannot physically monitor the team members, they tend to ask for detailed reports for work that has been done within the hours of the day the team members are supposed to work in.

These types of practices only result in hurting the team’s morale. The better option is to insist only on the work to be delivered on time, while leaving how they accomplish that- and in what hours of the day they do the work-to themselves.

However, that is not to say that you shouldn’t hold the team members accountable at all. Periodic meetings to review the work process should be conducted. Thanks to the various communication and collaboration tools that are available these days, this shouldn’t be technically challenging to perform. If any team members raise issues they face with work during these meetings, you should try to solve the problems for them.

Monitoring work

While monitoring the progress of work is important for managers, too stringent measures in that direction would also dampen the spirits of the team members, as such measures could give the impression that the manager doesn’t trust them well enough. While working in person, the matter of monitoring tasks is usually woven into the fabric of everyday work. The manager could probably just hop down to the team and have a quick discussion about it. It may even be a quasi-casual discussion, and so it wouldn’t even be registered as a monitoring effort.

But in remote working scenarios, that is obviously not possible. Managers understandably get jittery as they don’t necessarily have ready access to their team to learn about work status updates. Even if they call someone up, they may not respond immediately. Also, the managers couldn’t be sure if they are disrupting work by calling them up in the first place.

One way to overcome this problem is by using a dedicated project management tool like I’m Productive, which could help give you a real-time status update of work progress. You could also have periodic meetings at pre-arranged times. These meetings could be short in nature, and instead of using these to get progress reports from team members, the objective should be to learn if team members are facing any issues with their tasks. If all is going well with their tasks, you need just let them continue performing their work. Otherwise, you could help them solve whatever stumbling block they may be facing.

Given how agility is all about getting work done through collaboration, the ideal approach is not to function as a taskmaster for the team members, but as an additional resource which they could help team members get their work done.

Lack of knowledge sharing due to inadequate personal communication

Working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean that team members are completely cut off from each other. The presence of online communication tools ensures that it needn’t be so. It is nonetheless a fact that in most remote work scenarios, the communication amongst team members is limited to the functional. The messages that team members share with each other mostly pertain to the tasks they are currently involved in.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with this scenario, it is also true that communication other than the strictly functional also promotes fruitful knowledge sharing. For example, team members may discuss some new technological trend in their work sector which is not directly relevant to the current project. Such discussions could in turn result in team members exploring and learning more about the technology. In remote working, such interactions rarely happen.

This has rightfully become a cause for worry for managers in the post-pandemic world where remote work is often the norm than the exception. Also, the absence of group interactions that happen during lunch hours and coffee breaks while working in an office, could adversely affect team morale.

As a solution, you could organize more planned meetings which are of a social nature. These meetings wouldn’t have the spontaneity of in-person coffee breaks and the like, but that’s not to say that they lack meaningful intimacy. Not if the team members are game for it.

As for knowledge sharing, you could create a digital space online- something as simple as a shared workspace or folder- where team members could share any resources that they think would be useful to others in the team, whether these resources are relevant to the current project or not. The Managers could take the initiative in sharing such resources with the team so that the team members would follow their lead.

Issues with design in product delivery

While remote working poses issues for teams of all forms and shapes, the challenges for design teams are particularly high given how it’s hard to verbalize the design aspects of a product. This in turn makes it hard to share design strategies with team members in a remote setting. One solution for this issue is to share all design requirements with relevant team members as a storyboard. As you probably know, a storyboard format is ideal for sharing visual information, as you could sketch in visual details and also give the narrative outline in a storyboard. However, this may not be a workable solution in all scenarios. For instance, storyboarding is usually a time-consuming process, so if a quick design change is required, you may not have the required time to come up with a storyboard to explain the requirement to the design team.

As we have seen, the challenges that agile teams face while working remotely are many. We have also seen the solutions that could help you overcome these challenges. However, one thing that could help make instituting these and other solutions is to use good product management software.

Not all project management tools are well equipped to support agile projects. Agile teams require a certain set of features in these tools if they are to carry out their functions well.

I’m Productive is one project management tool that agile tools should consider for their purposes. There are multiple ways in which the project management system supports agile projects.

A great example is how easy it is to manage the workflow using the system- something that is extremely useful in a remote work setting. Not only could a manager see the progress of tasks in a workflow in real-time, but at the end of a task, it also gets automatically shifted to the review phase. Once the review is performed and if it is found that new additions are to be made to the task requirements, you can re-assign the task to a team member who can then perform it in the new iteration. This is particularly relevant in the case of tasks getting reinvented for the next sprint, as sometimes happens in agile projects.

You could assign a particular task to one or more users as per requirements, with just a few clicks using I’m Productive. To foster better communication amongst team members, the platform brings a number of tools which helps team member share documents and messages with each other. There are also provisions for managers and other relevant team members to comment on a task so that the person who is performing the task could get meaningful feedback even as the task is in progress.

A common worrying factor for managers in a remote working environment is regarding the ease with which their team members could adapt to a virtual collaborative tool like a project management system. With I’m Productive, you can put your mind at ease since the project management tool brings an easy-to-use, highly accessible and intuitive interface. Even team members who are not particularly technically adept could learn how to use the system quite easily, with very minimal external guidance.

In a remote work setting, this is extremely important as individual users may not be able to gain help for accessing some features as and when they require from others. By making the tool utterly simple to use, I’m Productive removes the need for seeking any such help, to begin with.

These are but just a small sample of the features in the platform which help agile teams with their projects.

Aside from these, the project management tool also incorporates artificial intelligence which helps you accurately calculate the project delivery time based on metrics including the number of hours that a team member spends on a task. The system is sophisticated enough to exclude irrelevant data like the break time someone takes during the course of finishing a task, for performing this calculation.

Best of all, you could get an accurate prediction of the project delivery time with a single click of a button.

To learn more about how I’m Productive can help you with your agile projects while working remotely, please visit the website.


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