Is your work-from-home team really being a team?

It’s been two years since everyone started working from home. How has that affected your team?

Most people I talk to tell me their teams are fine, but are they missing something?

On the surface, teams may indeed seem fine. Many people now have their cameras on and feel comfortable with online interaction tools. Some teams have social events online. In general, teams continue to deliver products and features.

And yet, I wonder how much they experience real, effective teamwork. Agile is predicated on teamwork because of the belief that getting work done is not enough; you’re going for something greater. When people truly act as a team — not merely as a group of individuals with the same objective or leader — you get these effects:

  • Higher value results (through collaboration, feedback, and challenging)
  • Faster results (by experiencing less thrashing and struggling)
  • Greater care for customer and business outcomes (through an expanded sense of ownership and belonging)
  • Mental support through the tough times (no shortage of such times recently!)


Just as you can’t get these effects solely by co-locating people, you won’t get them with video, Slack, and Miro/Mural. Several other conditions are necessary for a group to act as a real team. I’m worried that with the forced move online and the popularity of remote-first, many leaders have been focusing on preserving individual output levels, while not sufficiently facilitating teamwork.

Agile is a great choice for ambiguous and volatile situations, but it’s difficult to maintain when there’s little stability in the team itself. Difficult, but possible — if you always go back to the basic Agile premise of people before process.

Need some help with your team? Reach out to Gil.


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