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Adapting to Telework

Faced with the challenge of the transition to teleworking, we have discussed several strategies that will allow us to better adapt to this reality.

May 14, 2020

Faced with the challenge of the transition to teleworking, we have discussed several strategies that will allow us to adapt on a personal level and ensure our physical and mental health. In this second part, we will deal with issues related to the effectiveness of teams and individuals. 

The office environment offers several elements that can make our work more efficient. For instance, the whiteboard, post-it notes that we can share, and the physical spaces we can use for workshops. The work environment offers a proximity that promotes team dynamics, collaboration and more effective communication. 

A few reminders about communication 

First of all, comprehension of our communication comes from the non-verbal. For example, non-verbal communication comes from our gestures and posture. Para-verbal communication allows us to detect what is not said thanks to the tone of voice, flow, and silence. Some studies even suggest that only 7% of the message is transmitted according to what we say. 

Furthermore, 60% of us are visual and understand with our eyes. Nearly 35% of the population is auditory and learns with hearing or reading words. Finally, there are 5% of us who are kinesthetic and understand through physical sensations. In short, we exist in different sensory universes! 

Faced with these facts, it seems obvious that the adjustment in our practices should be made at the level of the modes of communication, to allow everyone to have a common understanding of the message. This is the basis, and yet it is what we lose the most in the context of telework. 

Let's take a few examples from the Agile Methodology to illustrate some issues and propose solutions. These are of course adaptable to all work situations. 

The Daily Scrum 

The scrum is a game plan that is adjusted throughout the day, based on the interactions between team members. 

The context of the sprint (number of days left or burndown) is an essential element allowing the team to make good decisions. We often find this information on the team's whiteboard, which is easily visible to all. Decisions and adjustments are often based on non-verbal information. We can take the example of a visible discomfort. Just discuss it and adjust! 

Sprint Planning  

The creation of user stories and tasks must be dynamic, fast and efficient. Post-it notes are a valuable tool for this activity. Commitment to the sprint goal is based on the comfort level of the team members, and this is usually very visible in the non-verbal of the players. 

The Sprint Retrospective

When it comes to improving team dynamics, non-verbal communication is essential. 


Faced with these challenges, several adjustments can have a significant impact on team effectiveness. 

  1. Favor video conferences in which all participants are always visible and audible. Generally speaking, most teams adjust quickly, and the dynamics are similar to those found in the office. Be aware that it is easy to disengage from a meeting if we are not visible or audible. 
  2. Use visual aids to engage all players:
    1. visually share the sprint status and management tool
    2. take notes on the fly, visible to all
    3. allow participants to interact directly with the content 
  3. Split the groups into sub-meetings as needed with as many facilitators as groups.
  4. Our nonverbal is very neutral in front of a computer, offering few cues to other participants. Use hand signals or cards to signal your moods or to interact silently.
  5. Add team meetings throughout the day to ensure synchronization. At worst, if everything lines up, turn this meeting into a virtual coffee break!
  6. Be sure to communicate the conclusions and action plans of the meetings to the participants to avoid any misunderstanding. 

It is essential to reflect on each of these elements, make a game plan, test them, and allocate extra preparation time for our activities.  

We are here 

Levio is fully engaged in this transformation with its partners, both on a human level and on a more practical level. 

Check back soon for the release of the third and final part – Tools and Resources. 

David Veilleux, 

Agile Transformation and DevOps Leader at Levio