The art of being productive remotely

Published December 22 2020
Emmanuel Raux, Product Owner
Emmanuel Raux
Product Owner
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How can Product Owners (PO) continue to successfully bring value and lead teams in this new remote working era?

I’ve asked myself this question when I first arrived at Alithya as a PO and had to join my team remotely.

With the right tools and processes, remote teams can be as productive as co-located teams. Here are the strategies I use:

  • Define clear working methods
  • Communicate more
  • Make informed decisions
  • Celebrate

Define your working methods

  1. Establish some baselines
  2. Set a work schedule (main time zone, work hours, on-call hours)
  3. Define the tools, framework and appropriate formalities

Create processes that will allow you to remain agile while working. Members of your team are facing unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. Accordingly, as a PO, you must rethink how your team works together. This represents a worthwhile investment. It is important to find an approach suited to your team’s specific circumstances where everyone is given an equal opportunity to contribute.

Rely on the tools of your choice. I like to use:

  • Zoom to discuss
  • JIRA to manage tasks
  • Confluence to document
  • Miro to create diagrams and wireframes or facilitate ceremonies and workshops

Communicate more

Overcommunicate information! I found it useful to include the same information over different tools, allowing team members to access it on every platform.

Don’t stop using visual communication. You don’t need a white board to explain your ideas. Draw objects, then take a picture that you can send to your teammates. Use tools like Miro or create digital sketches. When in doubt, share your screen, then save or annotate it.

Make informed decisions

It is critical for the sprint to go as planned to prevent bottlenecks from forming within the team. Avoiding rash decisions is a great way to achieve this. Hasty decisions are never great and, as a result, you are encouraged to pursue these actions:

  • Take a step back
  • Identify the participants best positioned to confirm the decision (UX or UI for design matters, a manager for work-related questions, Scrum Master for team-related issues, etc.) and always emphasize the collective dimension and stakeholder empowerment.
  • Confirm the decision made collectively
  • Document the decision

In a remote work environment, communication is vital and making decisions in isolation doesn’t foster fluid and trustworthy communication.

Don’t forget to celebrate!

When you are in the office, social interactions happen organically over the course of the day, the week and the project. No one forgets to greet the person sitting at the desk beside theirs and gatherings are easy to organize. In the current situation, it is important to intentionally provide opportunities for casual personal interactions and celebrate small victories.

Despite the pandemic, product management remains vital and POs must tackle the challenges of remote working.

To succeed, you will have to juggle more tasks, such as managing the team and promoting the culture and vision of the product. Don’t aim for perfection, but rather try to get a little better each day (#kaizen).