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True North Networks Blog

How Teams Can Stay Connected and Productive When Working Remotely


It’s important to keep in mind the principles behind good teamwork. Agility is based on not only the capabilities of our processes and delivery pipelines, but also lives in Datto's Engineering cultural mindset and communication practices within our teams.

For example, Datto is in a good position to support the needs of fully distributed Agile teams and we’ve been around the block with this setup for a while. 

Whether you’ve worked on a team with members across different geographic locations, or if you have full remote employees on your team already, we have ways to work within the confines of temporary team member isolation.

Here are some tips and suggestions for how your company can stay productive and communicative during your time working from home:

  1. Communication tools need to be your go-to solution
    • Zoom will be your best friend. Ask yourself “is this conversation better-suited face-to-face?” If so, book 15 minutes with someone over Zoom instead of managing these communications over a tool like Slack. It will go the distance for keeping you and your teammates in sync.
    • Slack is a great way to continue moving through our processes and asking necessary questions to team members. This is a rapid way to get answers and to communicate small needs or changes with the group.
    • Jira should be treated as a log for all progress and impediments for your work. Please keep your tickets hygienic and utilize the commenting + user tagging features to keep your team members in sync on sprint items. If you’re struggling with managing tickets, please reach out to your Scrum Master for guidance and assistance.
    • Don’t be afraid to just pick up the phone and call someone. Share your cell number or a Google Voice number with your colleagues when you need to have a quick conversation.
  2. Block off “Do Not Disturb” time on your calendar each day
    • Slack and other communication tools, especially when remote, can become your entire day if you don’t manage your time appropriately. Establishing blocks of time where you request to not be interrupted so you can concentrate on your work are crucial.
    • Utilize the Slack “Do Not Disturb” feature to limit your notification overload. Getting constantly pinged can be overwhelming for anyone; do your best to reduce distractions when you need to go heads down on problem-solving for an hour.
  3. When you’re in a Zoom meeting, turn on your camera and pay attention
    • It’s easy to get distracted by Slack or other inquiries you’re receiving when you’re on a Zoom meeting, especially when you can’t just close your laptop like when you’re in a conference room with team members. The only way to avoid this is to turn off notifications and focus on the content in the session.
    • Turning on your camera allows people to read your expressions and interact with you more effectively. Additionally, it gives you the incentive to be present in the meeting instead of handling other issues during the call. No one wants to be called out for not paying attention.

Working from home is about balance. Make sure you take frequent breaks and monitor your working hours as you would if you were commuting. It’s easy to burnout when you work from home, so talk with your manager if you feel that you are struggling to be productive. Use the tools you have at your disposal to continue being effective contributors and collaborators with your remote team members.



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