How to improve collaboration for distributed agile teams

How to improve collaboration for distributed agile teams

Hollis Kool


Being on a remote team can be disruptive when the tech we rely on isn’t designed to fill the collaboration gap that forms when teams become remote or distributed. Agile teams are facing this challenge as the center-point to rituals — the whiteboard — is harder to use while remote. That’s why we decided to tackle this pain point head-on last week in our webinar with Miro’s Customer Education Manager Matt Mulholland.

Shared challenges
for agile teams

Remote work tends to mean that collaboration becomes asynchronous. It also means that anything visual that’s relying on shared input needs a new home. To keep chugging along, remote agile teams need to be nimble in the way that they transform their collaborative habits to jump that gap. Unsurprisingly,


of webinar participants identified collaboration and fighting isolation as the top challenges for those on remote agile teams.

“It’s tough to tack remote employees onto processes built in the same room,” says Mulholland. “When you talk about enabling people from other offices, I would approach it as though everyone in the room is remote.”

Watch the 
on-demand video

Questions you should be asking about your agile collaboration  practices

In order to successfully adjust as a team to digitally-based communication, it’s important to ask core questions about your team’s infrastructure — remote or not. How are you all aligning on key project tasks and timelines? Through what method are cross-functional teams linking up? What are the consistent rituals built into you daily routine to communicate with your team? How are you balancing micro and macro aspects of a project?

Collaborative platforms like Miro can help replicate processes you were doing before on your agile team, and help constructively address barriers to effective team collaboration that exist in person, too. In the webinar, using frameworks like sprint planning, user story maps and kanban online require a base level intentional planning to prep and collaborate successfully with remote cross-functional teams. This very deliberate process allows teams to be transparent in their thinking, consistent in the structures of workflows, and strike the right balance between organized and free-flow thinking with teams.

What your rituals look like when they move online

Using retrospectives as the first ritual example to transform, Mulholland demonstrated the synergy of an online timer, a voting tool and sticky notes as three simple, transformative ways to run a team review. With tools moving online, it’s important that agile teams tap into crucial aspects of the real-world that must be replicated in a digital environment like feedback flow, transparency of information, and the cadence of projects. This need to move online can even improve your team’s productivity and collaboration habits because of the upkeep and intentionality of remote collaboration.

“When you run something like a retrospective you want participation from as many people as possible,” Mulholland says. “When you have someone that’s quieter on your team, having people be able to add content on their own might increase the likelihood that they’ll say something.”

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Advantages to remote, digital collaboration for agile teams:


Remote work encourages pre-work as collaborative spaces have to be built and contributed to asynchronously


Non-verbal, online tools can encourage more democratic contributions to quieter members on a team


You can cater to a diverse set of learning and working styles by having more communication formats (video, audio, visual, text)


Transparency of information: bringing tools and thinking online can enable team members to quickly and easily access the work methods of coworkers and teams.

For further strategies and demos on ways your teams can bring your agile ceremonies online, you can tune in below for the rest of the on-demand webinar. Beyond integrating your tools together, the webinar covers how to best conduct user story maps, sprint planning, and announces a new Miro tool currently in beta that could be transformational for your Agile process.

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