The social standup

Reading about a new idea for remote standups in the Thoughtworks Tech Radar reminded me of a few similar experiences I've had.

The idea described in the Tech Radar is that when the whole team is remote they lose out on ad-hoc opportunities for discussions. So rather than having a short standup everyday, the team blocks off much more time (up to an hour) so that there is plenty of time blocked off for discussions after the standup is completed. It is also pointed out that it doesn't have to be work related discussions but socialization is important too.

That part reminded me of the remotes standups my team started to have in the beginning of the COVID pandemic when everybody had to work form home. I don't think it was the work related exchange that was the most important but rather that we made a habit of joining early, exchange some jokes or stories and then hang out after the standup when possible. And I think this social aspect of our standups brought the team closer together.

I also remember back in the days when I worked on Xbox and we had a fairly large team doing standups together despite the fact that most of us didn't actually have work that affected each other directly. Hence everybody would spend most time in the standup listening to things most of us didn't care much about. A question was raised if we should split the standup into smaller standups so that we wouldn't waste everybody's time so much. Much to my surprise the team decided to not split the standup since we felt that the minutes of jokes and socialization as we gathered for the standup was worth so much for the team morale compared to the perceived loss of efficiency when everybody had to attend a slightly longer standup (because of how many people we were).

So while the social component in a remote standup really resonates with me - I think we should not forget that it can have a lot of value also in-person.

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