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How to Be a High Performing Distributed Agile Team



Lisette Sutherland explores how digital nomads, virtual entrepreneurs, and global organizations are reaching through the screens to collaborate seamlessly at a distance. She shares new ideas for what it means to be “present” at work and how to create that sense of camaraderie even when people are virtual.


Lisette Sutherland is a remote-working German-born American living in the Netherlands who is totally jazzed by the fact that it’s possible to work from anywhere. She is the author of Work Together Anywhere - a handbook on working remotely - successfully - for individuals, teams, and managers.

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Sutherland: I've changed the name of the talk. It is still going to be the same content about how to be a high-performing, distributed agile team, but what I found is the remote practices are actually good whether you're agile or not. They're kind of the same for all teams, whether you're agile or not. I will address that. The other thing to note is I am not related to Jeff Sutherland. It is a total coincidence. Everybody always asks. No relation, we've never met yet.

I know that distributed teams is becoming more and more the norms. Now with the virus, Judy [Rees] and I are both getting contacted every day by people who are saying, "My team has quarantined, and we need to work from home or we need to work remotely. Help." That's been really fun. I'm assuming that you're here because you're here to collect tips, and best practices, and some tools, maybe, for how to work remotely successfully. That's what I'm hoping to do today, is just to instill some good tips and some tools along the way. I'm a total tool junkie. I don't make any money from any of the tools I'm going to show. I'm not an affiliate or anything. I'm just a slavish fan girl.

All of the things that I'm going to be showing you today are from the interviews that I've done on the podcast over the last five years. I've interviewed hundreds of teams on how they're working remotely. If you're interested in that, all the videos and the podcasts are available online for free. I just published my book last year, "Work Together Anywhere." That's available on Amazon. I'd like to show it. It's a real book. Sometimes people will put up a graphic, and then you get a little pamphlet in the mail. It is a real book. If you're interested in that, you can get that on Amazon.

The thing that I've learned from all the interviews that I've done is that there is no one right way to work remotely. What works for one team is not going to necessarily work for the other team, even within the same company. I wish there were a silver bullet because Judy [Rees] and I would make $1 million selling everybody a silver bullet for how to do it well, but the name of the game is experimentation and taking things that work for you. What I'm hoping to do today is give you a whole bunch of ideas, and that you will take from those ideas what you think might work for your team.

When we get it right, great things happen, we as individuals get a lot of freedom. We get the freedom to work where we're most productive, to avoid the commute, to spend more time with our families, train for marathons, all kinds of things like that, and companies get a stronger and more connected workforce, which is really what companies are going for. It can be a win-win situation when we get it right.

My agenda for today is I want to actually dive into two aspects of remote work. One is how to perfect your own game. Then, the other aspect is how do we work together online with people as if they were in the office with us. We'll go over that. We'll start with perfecting your own game and how to tend to your own needs. These are things that are going to sound very simple, but there's a catch, and I'll tell you the catch at the end.

Perfecting Your Own Game

The first, of course, is to find why are you working distributed. Is it because you have to, you are forced into it? You're working with teams all over the world just by nature because software development works that way? Or maybe you want to be a digital nomad and travel the world? Or maybe you just want to spend time with your family or avoid the commute? It is actually really important to figure it out, why you're doing it, because then you can design the lifestyle around your why. Just giving that some thought.

The next is you have to find where you're most productive. For me, it's in my home office. I like to be totally alone. I don't have the isolation, the loneliness that many remote workers have. My husband tried working from home, hated it, went back to the office within six months. Other people really like co-working spaces. You can see here, this is somebody who's actually rented a mobile van and they travel around in this van. They're actually from the U.K., they travel around in the van and go to Southern Europe during the winters so that they can stay warm. Everybody has a different style. It's really important to figure out what is your style, where are you most productive.

Then, of course, finding your daily rhythm. My husband is a total morning person, 7:00 a.m., the alarm goes off, and somehow he is out the door by 7:30, having showered, and eaten, and everything, and I'm still barely getting my eyes open. I'm a total night owl. It's really important. Are you a morning person? Are you an evening person? Do you have a forced schedule? Which means that you have a time box in which you have to work, because the kids come home from school at 3:00 p.m., and so if it's not done by then, you don't have a chance later in the day to get that done. You really have to figure out what is your own daily rhythm. It's a lot harder than you might think.

Of course, finding your boundaries – if you're working from home or if you're working from a co-working space. I should say a lot of managers don't like letting people work remotely or go flexible because they're worried that the work won't get done. Actually, what we're finding is the opposite is true, because we're able to blend work and life so seamlessly, that people tend to overwork and not turn off, and burnout is a far bigger issue than laziness. That is actually really the issue and the name of the game.

It's really important to figure out what are your boundaries. For me, I turn the phone off at 9:00 p.m. at night and I don't turn it on again until 9:00 a.m. the next day. That is my boundary. What works for me, it doesn't work for other people. Some people have to set specific working hours, some people use separate devices. Whatever it is that you use to find your own boundaries, you have to set them for yourself.

Of course, I mentioned the loneliness thing. That's the number one thing that remote workers tend to complain of, and that is, "I'm in my house all the time. I'm all by myself." The thing is, you really have to figure out what are your social needs. For me, I could be a hermit, I could stay in my room for a month, probably, not talk to anybody, and I'd be A-ok with that. Probably not healthy, but I could do it and wouldn't be a problem. Other people would go crazy. You need to figure out, do you need to go out and talk to people? You have to build your own social life. When we go to the office, we're kind of given a social life there. When we leave the office, we have to build it for ourselves, and that can be really difficult.

Luckily, there's some fun options out there besides just going to your local coffee shop. That is, you can do virtual co-working now. I ran a virtual co-working space for years. This right here is a friend of mine, Gretchen. We worked together eight years ago writing a different book. She's in California, I'm in the Netherlands. We just would get together every evening for a few hours and write together. When the project ended, we liked working together so much that we have continued to this day, eight years later. I met her for the first time in December after eight years. She's really short, which I didn't realize, of course, when you're working online because you see everybody in the same size. That was the only weird thing that came from that.

There's also many tools. This one is Focusmate. You could actually get together with somebody random from around the world, log in. You begin by telling each other what you want to accomplish in the next hour. Then, you check in with each other at the end of the hour, "What did you get done? What did you do?" Another form of virtual co-working. Sounds a little bit strange, but something may be worth trying.

Of course, there are virtual offices. If you're working with a team, these are some of my favorite things, what you're looking at is a floor plan of an office. These are two different styles. This one is Remo, and this one is Walkabout Workplace. What you can see is you're looking down into a floor plan. Each one of these squares represents a separate room, and you can see that there's people in the rooms. You can only see and hear the people that are in the same room with you, but you simply double click to go to another room to be with another group of people. I love these things. In terms of offices, this can be a great way. Instead of saying, "Are you available next week at 2:00 p.m.?" you can actually now virtually knock on people's doors. This can also give you a sense of presence and a sense that there is a team around you, even if you're working alone in your own space.

I said before, a lot of these things sound really simple and that there was a catch, and there is a catch. I love this. If you haven't seen the cartoon from The Oatmeal, this one is awesome. It says, "Why working from home is both awesome and horrible," and I put, "Why working from anywhere is both awesome and horrible." It's awesome because we have so much freedom, and it's horrible because we have so much freedom.

I'd like to make the analogy between this and weight loss. We know the formula for weight loss. It's eat less and exercise more, but it is really hard to do. For anybody that's tried losing weight, it is really hard to do. All of these things of, "Find your why," and, "Figure out your boundaries," and, "Implement your own social needs," it sounds really simple, and it is surprisingly difficult for people to do. Don't underestimate some of these things in terms of if you're going out and doing these things on your own, don't underestimate maybe the difficulty there.

I'm going to do Slido because I want to take the pulse of the room. I hate to get everybody out on their phone because, all of a sudden "Oh, Twitter." What I'd like to do is just go to Slido, and I'd like to answer, "How would you perfect your own game?" Would you first find your why? Do you need to find where you're most productive? What would you do? Let's all put the results on the screen. Let's see what we got. We've got two people. You could already be perfect, that's also an option. I haven't had a room full of perfection yet, though. We've got a few perfect people. It sounds like finding the daily rhythm of what do you need in order to get your day going is a really big one. I found that I struggle with that also.

For me, my daily rhythm is I wake up and I do coffee and Twitter to read the news, to make sure everything's still ok-ish. Then, with my pajamas on, I go up into my office and I work for a few hours. Then, around noon, I like to go running, or go do errands, or yoga, or something like that. Then, I come back in the afternoon. It took me a while to find that, but it ended up being what I like. Great. You can continue to vote. I can send out the results, but we can get an idea of the room.

Create Alignment

Now that we've found our own needs, how do we work together with a team online? I want to start by creating alignment, which I've heard a lot of talking about this. I didn't see Mark's [Kilby] talk because I had an Ask Me Anything session, but I'm sure Mark [Kilby] talked about this in his talk. That is, I tell every team, whether you're new or not, to start by creating an agreement together on how you're going to work. What tools are you going to use? Where are you going to store the information? How are you going to communicate with each other? How will you know what each other are doing? Are there expected response times? All of these kind of things that are implicit when we go to the office, we need to make them explicit when we go online because we can't see each other.

We really need to define how are we going to work together as a team, what is normal for us. When somebody joins a team, it's really nice when you have a team agreement in place because they can automatically slip into that way of working. Then, when you review the team agreement, which should be done very regularly, because teams evolve and tools evolve, that then they have input into the next version of it.

I interviewed Beat Bühlmann, who is the head of EMEA for Evernote, and they have some pretty intense processes at Evernote for what they do. They actually have etiquettes for how they run their meetings, for how they write their emails, for what's required in their home office. How are they going to do their tasks, and what are some of their Slack etiquettes. They just go through and they just define this with their team to get rid of the basic misunderstandings that are going to happen, because they're always going to happen. Then, you're going to have bigger misunderstandings, of course. Just get rid of the basics so that you can become aligned in how you're working.

If you'd like, I've got some templates on the website, if you want to download a team agreement template. There's many different forms. There is one that just defines information, communication, and collaboration. There's also this team canvas. This is not mine, it's Creative Commons. You can download that as well. It doesn't matter what you use for your team agreement in terms of templates or types, it just matters that you have the conversation with your team. Definitely check that out.

Create Presence

Now, I want to talk about presence because going to work in the modern-day workplace looks very different than it did just 10, 20 years ago. How do we create presence in this new way of working? Of course, the number one, which you've heard all day, is we've got to turn the cameras on. A lot of people don't like it. I can already see, "I hate turning the cameras on," or, "My team doesn't do it," or, "We don't have enough bandwidth," or, "The tool that we use doesn't do it."

Really, what Judy [Rees] said this morning, the time has come. There's no excuses anymore unless you have really bad bandwidth. Then, you really need to get good bandwidth. It is the cornerstone of remote working, like the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Wi-Fi is at the bottom. That is a critical component of remote working. If you don't have that, you are doomed. It's really there. You need Wi-Fi, and then turning the cameras on.

That brings us to our next Slido question, which is, "If you don't already turn your camera on, why not?" I need to set the next poll. Let's just see, what are some of the reasons why people don't turn their cameras on. If you do turn your camera on, that's also an option. It's getting more and more common now for people to do that, but many people just don't like it. They don't like seeing themselves on camera. That's a valid excuse. Most tools now have the ability to hide yourself from your own view, but you're still present to other people's view. They are working through some of these things.

Not surprisingly, the multitasking one comes up. That's the number one reason that people don't turn their cameras on, is because they're multitasking and they don't want anybody to know it. Then, you have to question, "Why are they in that meeting to begin with?" Ok, distracting things in the background. In your casual clothes. Now, I can say, if you're in your casual clothes, just put on a normal shirt, or scarves work really well. Then, you're only visible from here on up. Just put on a real shirt and turn the cameras on.

Participant 1: I'd like to look at a document. If I'm just with a laptop, I'd like to look at a document or an email we're referring to in the conversation.

Sutherland: Two monitors. An external monitor. Absolutely. One for the people and one for your document. A hundred percent. Yes. I know some people don't like external monitors. I have four of them. I have like a hub of operations. Really, it's the key.

Participant 2: On the background, a thing or two. [inaudible 00:17:13] background these days so that's not behind.

Sutherland: Exactly, virtual backgrounds now. I used to have my bed. I had a really small apartment for a long time, and my bed was right behind my workstation. I just got one of those room dividers. That was pre-virtual backgrounds. You just put up the room divider and professional. I give workshops online for a living, and the last thing I want is for people to see my bed in the background. That's not the most professional look. You're not going to sell workshops to KLM with a bed in the background, I'll tell you that.

Some other ways that people are using the camera, I think, are pretty interesting. This is a team in Germany that has teams in two cities. Each team is working in one room. They have teams of six in one room. What they've done is they've just connected with the camera. They have video and sound on at each place. What they've done is simulated what it's like to work in the same room together. On this other board over here, they've got their task board. It's like the sticky notes on the wall. Then, when a task gets done, they just use their virtual sticky note board to move tasks along. I think they're just using some sort of a KanbanFlow. Even a virtual tool would be fine there. This is what they've done. They basically are just connected with sound and video for the entire day. That's how they work together.

This is a team in Australia that is working with teams in China. They have hundreds of people in their office when I went to visit them. What they've done is that they've just put up these giant monitors throughout the office. They might have 50 of them throughout the office with the sound and video on, and that connects them to their Chinese colleagues throughout the day. They do their stand-ups here, they hang out. You can see that this is their hangout area, they're playing video games together. This is how they've used video to connect both offices. It's not that expensive anymore to get these nice, big monitors, and some good webcams, and some good speakerphones, and it really does keep the team connected. It's not just about video on, there's some creative things that we can do.

Participant 3: How would you deal with people concerned about privacy?

Sutherland: That is a very good issue. If you're working in a bank, for example, then this might not be the setup that you would want for yourself. Yes, privacy, especially with video, is going to be an issue, and you just have to set up rules for your company around what's acceptable and what's not. For sure. I'm not saying, "Do all of these things," I'm saying, "Pick and choose what do you think might work for you." I would really highly encourage experimentation because sometimes the thing that you think will work totally doesn't work, and there's a random reason why, it's not rational all the time, which is very frustrating.

I'd like to just poke a little bit into a world of weird. I'm going to show you some weird things that are happening, but I want to let you know where the market's going and what the potential is. The first thing is the telepresence robots, of course. This is the BeamPro that's made by Suitable Technologies. You've probably seen it on the "Big Bang Theory." That's where it became really popular and everybody knew what it was. They're basically drivable robots, person height, and you can drive them using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Now, at the Suitable Technologies office, 50% of their workforce beam in via robot and 50% are there in the flesh, and this is how they work every day. Of course, it changes the etiquettes and the culture of the office. You can't shake hands with people, of course. Instead, you fist bump, because that's a much more 2D version. There's all these new etiquettes that start to come up. I want to just show a quick video of what this looks like so you get a little bit of a feel. It's about a minute and a half. This robot I don't like as much because it's belly button height, which is a very awkward height for talking with somebody. It's not ideal, but you get a bit of a sense of how it works.

Simonite: While sat on my desk in San Francisco, I can roam corridors in Cambridge, Massachusetts, seeking out people in their offices, attending meetings, and joining in with gossip in the kitchen. Replacing a person with a machine is not always straightforward. In our January issue, I take a look at the social side of becoming and working with a robot. Controlling one of these telepresence robots is like using a video chat program with a few extra controls to steer yourself around. You can do most of the things that you would do in person. For example, stopping to talk with people you meet.

Co-worker: The Dominican Republic was a great time. Though, trying to get a two-year-old baby down to the Dominican Republic was difficult.

Simonite: I'm sure he liked it when he got there.

Co-worker: Yes.

Simonite: Or having a conversation as you walk down a corridor alongside someone. Because you can get a feel for the space around you and watch people's body language, those conversations are much like those you would have face-to-face. I got much more out of our morning meeting as a robot than I would dialing in on the phone as usual, and the people there could talk to the machine as if it was me.

Sutherland: You get the idea. It sounds a bit silly, but these type of telepresence robots really create presence in a room with the team. It's a little bit weird at first until you get used to it. Then, it's not weird anymore. Just like any new technology.

This one right here, we're going to take another step further into the weird. This is virtual reality. This one particular is called rumii. It's virtual reality for remote teams. You put on your glasses, you walk into your virtual office, down your virtual corridor, into your virtual conference room to stand around your virtual whiteboard with your colleagues, have your stand-up meetings or just hang out together in this virtual space. I know it sounds weird, and it is, until you get used to it. Virtual reality has been around for over 20 years now, and it hasn't really caught on in the workforce, and it's because it's hard to learn how to use. It has been hard, but I think it is going to make a bigger splash as we continue.

If you thought that that was the last weird thing, it's not. I want to quickly talk about holograms because I think there's some really cool developments that have been happening in the space, and I'm a big "Star Wars" fan. I want to show you a couple of tools. This one is called Spatial. It is a hologram tool where you can actually beam into places. This is one of the first ones that I've seen on the market. There's some really cool things. Microsoft came out with the HoloLens last year.

Before the Microsoft one, back in 2012, at Coachella, Snoop Dogg performed in real life with Tupac as a hologram. I'm also a big Snoop Dogg fan. On the left here, Snoop Dogg, who was there in real life. That's Tupac, who died years ago before this and came back as a hologram. I want to show you about a minute of them performing together at the Coachella festival, just so you can see how realistic holograms can be. If you didn't know that Tupac wasn't there live, you probably wouldn't realize that this was a hologram. That cost millions to make. Of course, we're not going to be doing that on our teams anytime soon, but pretty realistic and pretty amazing to see that.

Last year, Microsoft came out with their HoloLens technology. This was just last year. I want to show you a video clip of the hologram technology that they've come up with.

White: First, let me introduce you to mini-me. There she is, my perfect hologram. Thanks to the power of HoloLens 2, she just floats right with me. I'm literally holding my hologram. So natural. Now, she's a little small to do a keynote. Let's get her up so she can do a full-sized Japanese keynote. Render keynote.

As you can see, this is mind-blowing technology. What you just saw was my life-sized hologram, my exact replica, rendered here in real-time, speaking Japanese with my unique voice signature. To do this, we used mixed reality technology to create my hologram and render it here live. Then, we used Azure's speech-to-text capability in English transcription to get my speech. Then, used Azure Translate to get the speech into Japanese. Finally, applied neural text-to-speech technology so it sounded exactly like me, just speaking Japanese. The most amazing part, all of these technologies exist today. The future is here.

Sutherland: Now, most of us are still struggling with Skype for Business, for God's sakes, and spider phones in the middle of the desk? We're way off with that. The holograms are not coming anytime soon. However, I think that the potential of what we can do now with technology is extremely exciting, and we can do a lot better than Skype for Business. Almost anything would be better than Skype for Business at this point. Get a real video conferencing tool. It doesn't have to be holograms, but I just like to show what's coming.

I said I was a tool junkie. I've got a list of hundreds of tools on my website, if you want to check that out. However, it's not about the tools, it's about the behavior that the tools enable us to have. Creating presence by using various video technologies tools is pretty cool, but you can also create presence in other ways.

That is with a concept called Working Out Loud. I got this from John Stepper who wrote the book called "Working Out Loud." He wrote it because he was working for Deutsche Bank, and he was the only person in his department that was doing his particular function and nobody else knew what he was doing. His department was being downsized, and he was in danger of losing his job because nobody knew what he was doing. I thought, "That is exactly what's happening with remote work. We're out of sight, out of mind. People don't know what we're doing. We need to figure out ways of working out loud."

Whether we do that by video technology, or holograms, or just by keeping each other updated in daily stand-ups, one of the ways that we work better remotely is by doing our work out loud with our teammates. It's not about the tool, it's about the behavior, but the tools are really cool.

Create Camaraderie

Now, we've got alignment, we've got presence. How do we create comradery? How do we create that sense of team and that sense of fun that we have when we're working together in the office? There's different ways to do this. One is you can build it into your regular day, which is a fun way to do it. I'll show some ways of doing that. One is icebreaker questions for all of your meetings: favorite food, why are you here, what will you contribute to this meeting, favorite color. The real reason for icebreakers in meetings is, one, to get everybody talking before the meeting starts, because science shows that once everybody has spoken, they're more likely to speak up again.

The second reason is because, over time, we start to learn things about each other. It's not just Bob from engineering, it's Bob from engineering that takes his kids canoeing on the weekends, and he loves the color green, and he goes to Hawaii on vacation. Suddenly, through these simple questions, we've now learned a lot about people. Icebreakers are an easy way to build comradery into your day. This picture is, "Take a picture of your shoes, or take a picture of your feet, and show us what's on your feet right now," something really simple, part of a holiday party we had.

Then, of course, there's group chat channels. This is your natural virtual water cooler, of course. Everybody's got this. This one's on Slack. You can have a books channel, a pets channel. Some people have a humble brag channel, because sometimes you want to be like, "I just did something really cool." Or a goal channel. It doesn't matter what it is, but use it as your virtual water cooler. Of course, instead of just building things into the day, we have to schedule our serendipity, because unless you're working in a virtual office, you're not going to accidentally bump into people online, so we actually have to schedule it. Many teams are doing virtual coffees. You just get together, every Wednesday at noon, there's a virtual coffee. Whoever wants to show up, shows up, and you hang out, you have coffee, 15 minutes, and then you go back to work.

A lot of teams are experimenting with things like this. There's virtual lunches. It's weird to eat on screen, that's the only thing, but you get used to it over time. There's quiz nights, of course. There's video games, which people don't think of, but video games are a great way of connecting across borders, just hang out and play some games together online. We forget that there's a lot of different ways that we can have fun and build serendipity into our teams.

I've got a huge list of virtual team-building activities. I just gave a few of the more common ones. If you want to check out the list, there's a huge list of lots of different team-building activities. What it takes is a bit of creativity and a champion to make it happen, because if you leave these things to chance, chances are they're not going to happen. You really need somebody to take the lead, and to be the spirit, and champion these activities on the team.

In terms of team-building, our last Slido poll for the day, "What team-building activities appealed to you?" Let me go set the next question. I'll get a sense of what people liked. Lots of icebreaker questions, of course. Those are super easy. You can build them into any meeting, any function, any thing. Virtual coffees and lunch are also fun.

Learn How To Host Great Online Meetings

We've tended to our own needs, we've created alignment, we've created presence, we've got some comradery and fun going on in our team. The next thing that I really put in here was we've got to learn how to host great online meetings, because right now, online meetings are like a level of Dante's Hell. The more online meetings we go into, the worse it gets. Everybody just hates them. I think that they can be changed. I think that online meetings need to be good because that's the way that, as teams, we're communicating and hanging out together, so it's worth spending some time learning how to design and facilitate online meetings.

If you were at Judy's [Rees] talk this morning, you got a lot of good tips, but here are a few more. This was one of my favorite quotes from the interviews that I did, which was, "People think that they want to be co-located, but what we really want is high-bandwidth communication. We want to be able to talk to our teammates as if they're in the same room with us." I'm also a huge "Star Trek" fan, so I make this analogy with "Star Trek."

That's what we want on our team. We don't want to have the coffee shop sounds. It's not, "Lisette to Bridge," and then there's barking dogs, and coffee shops, and car sounds. No. It's, "Lisette to Bridge." Bridge reports. Crystal clear communication. It is worth investing in good equipment. I always say that great online meetings are, as Judy [Rees] quoted me this morning – that was fun – that it's a combination of good infrastructure and good facilitation. If you're using Skype for Business, really, chuck it into the river, recycle it responsibly, and get a real video tool. Invest in a nice headset. If you're working in an open office, Logitech has great certified open-office headsets now that will cancel out the background noise. There's tools like Crisp that will also take background noise out.

Really, invest in good infrastructure. If you're having these horrible hybrid meetings where some people are in the room and some people are remote, get a Meeting Owl, one of the 360-degree microphone and cameras that autofocuses. These kind of things. There's a lot that we can do to improve the quality of our online meetings simply through infrastructure.

Then, the other is facilitation skills. We need to design our meetings differently. I think one of the reasons that online meetings are so bad is because we took the in-person meeting, and we translated it directly online, and it didn't translate well, it turns out. In terms of meeting design, what I mean by that is there's a lot of preparation that we can do before the meeting starts. For example, if you come to an online meeting and somebody's going to give an online 20-minute presentation, why are we here? Why did we not record that presentation as a video before the meeting starts so that we can use our valuable online time together for decision making and discussions? You want to make sure that you're designing the meetings differently for maximum engagement.

This is, of course, the old-style meeting room. With the old conference, a spider phone in the middle, where it's like, "Bob, it's Lisette. Can you hear me?" Bob sort of answers. This is the old style. Now, we're moving to this more sophisticated style of meeting rooms if you're going to do hybrids. The remote participants are very present in this room, you can see them, you can hear them, everybody's able to see the materials being presented. This is key. Here's the Meeting Owl. It looks like a cute little owl. You can see it sits in the center of the table.

For the remote participants, this is what they can see on the top here. They see the whole scan of the room, and the Meeting Owl will automatically focus on the person who's speaking. Small changes like this can really improve the infrastructure of our meetings. Of course, facilitation skills, because remote is different. Because my enthusiasm for remote, people think remote is better all the time It's not, it depends on the situation. Some people work better in person, and it needs to be that way, and some people work better remote. It's just to recognize it's different.

A quick plug. Judy [Rees] and I have developed the Remote Meetings Masterclass last year, and it's been selling like hotcakes. It's crazy. I think people are really suffering in their online meetings. We're doing a course tomorrow, and we run them regularly online. If you ever want to join us, it's a really fun class, we have a good time together. If you use the QCon code, there's always a 20% discount.

Distributed is becoming more and more the norm. Now, with this virus, it's become imperative for people. I'm hoping that you got some good tips and tricks today. Just remember, there is no one right way. What works for one team is not going to work for the other. When we get it right, we get freedom for people to do what we want to do, and design our lives the way we want them designed, and companies get a stronger and more connected workforce. I think that's really good. The way that we do that is we perfect our own game as remote workers and we learn how to work together online as if we're in the office together. I think with the technology that exists today, the excuses are becoming less and less. It's more a matter of learning what the technology is and then implementing it.

I've got a super kit online, if you want to download. It's got icebreakers, and tips for time zones, and all kinds of things. You can just download that. It's a whole kit.


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Recorded at:

Mar 17, 2020