By 2025, 32.6 million Americans will work remotely. As the global remote landscape continues to expand, Agile ways of working remain top of mind for many enterprises and with good reason. 

According to 89% of workers, high-performing Agile teams have people-centric values, a clear culture, and leadership empowerment. Now, 71% of U.S.-based companies have turned to people-first Agile methodology to build morale, promote personal interactions across time zones and developmental cultures, accelerate time to market, and track productivity. 

If Agile methodology is done right, you can set your team and your bottom line up for success in 2024. Let’s explore how to manage, streamline, and build culture with distributed agile teams today.

What is the Agile development methodology?

The Agile approach, originally also known as Agile Software Development, was created as an umbrella term for a set of practices rooted in the principles of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Agile development was initially imagined for clustered teams within the same office, and early Agile remote teams were designed to work together in close proximity. Traditional Agile development prioritizes team building within a specific location, while distributed Agile teams work remotely across the world. 

Today, businesses aren’t solely adopting Agile methodology in software development. According to the 2022 State of Agile Report, 49% of companies apply remote Agile framework principles through their comprehensive application delivery process to raise revenue and lower costs. 

Infographic with the 5 steps of Agile Methodology

What are the benefits of Agile methodology for remote teams, and how can you make it work for your distributed team? This method’s remote structure can improve your output rate, lower overhead administrative costs, increase productivity, and improve agility in an ever-evolving market. A recent study demonstrated that 70% of companies that have implemented Agile approaches have experienced an enhanced ability to manage changing priorities. 

What is a distributed Agile team?

Although the meaning of “distributed” and “agile” teams is clear when used separately, the term “distributed Agile teams” may be a new concept for many. 

A distributed Agile team is a geographically distributed group of individuals working to create the best possible product through multiple feedback cycles. A group of designers, project managers, and software developers all collaborate to build software using the Agile approach. Distributed teams can seamlessly collaborate on projects around the clock, and top talent can be sourced in less competitive markets. 

Remote, distributed agile teams

What are the benefits of a distributed Agile team? A “follow-the-sun” approach across sub-teams significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to create each interaction within projects. Plus, opting to build a geographically distributed team allows you to recruit top-quality talent from a diverse pool of experts around the world. Working from home, a coffee shop, or wherever an employee feels most productive can significantly increase a project team’s efficiency. 

How to manage distributed teams in Agile environments

Who manages an Agile team, and how can you leverage Agile processes to improve team collaboration? Some might argue that Agile and distributed teams don’t coexist well. Distributed Agile teams often face key challenges, including low morale among team members, communication gaps, time zone mismatches, and lack of adequate visibility on project progress. 

While the traditional Agile approach dictates development teams should collaborate in-person across the software development process, that is not always possible in a distributed environment. After all, the Agile approach prioritizes in-person meetings for sprint planning and kanban board building, while distributed team members may never meet each other virtually or in person. 

But the benefits outweigh the risks of an Agile approach. Just ask the 32% of business leaders and executives leading the charge to an Agile transformation, followed closely by 31% of individual technical teams

From adopting Agile team management software to delegating responsibilities, let’s explore how to make Agile distributed teams work in 2024. 

1. Use Agile project management tools to ensure project status visibility.

It can be challenging to track team members’ progress on assignments remotely, and a lack of transparency during the planning process can result in lower productivity and lower quality of work for some. That’s why 2 out of 3 survey respondents are using Atlassian Jira to manage Agile projects, and Kanban use among Agile teams has exploded from 7% in 2020 to 56% in 2022. Improve visibility for your scrum teams by leveraging cloud-based productivity tools like Toggl Plan, Asana, Kanban, and Jira to quickly and accurately monitor project progress visibility across time zones. 

Remember: A strong project manager of any distributed Agile team should ensure all project status reports are updated and clearly visible to the entire team throughout each project. 

2. Establish a shared vision. 

It’s essential for company leaders to paint the big picture for everyone involved. Strong company culture and good coworker relationships can make employees feel comfortable in their environment and encourage growth over the long term. 

Establishing a common goal and creating a sense of community is critical to maintaining a cohesive and motivated team. To build morale, be sure to:

  • Cultivate trust: Trust your employees to meet their deadlines with minimal intervention from you, and encourage them to ask questions.
  • Develop relationships: Establish a solid company culture by providing team members with opportunities to get to know each other on a more personal level. Some companies organize virtual happy hours on a weekly or biweekly basis to encourage team bonding.
  • Illustrate the company’s mission: Your team members should have a solid sense of your company’s goals. Why is the work you do important? What will this project achieve?
  • Validate team members: Understanding your role in a team can give a sense of purpose and inspire teams to do their best. Make sure everyone on the team knows they were hired for a reason.

3. Manage accountability.

To ensure high productivity from globally distributed teams, you need to keep everyone on the same page at all times. Project visibility across distributed teams can be low, yet it’s essential to regularly update team members on how each project is going. Well-documented processes and consistent communication enable employees to keep the productivity streak going. 

To keep your teams accountable:

  • Schedule regular check-ins with each employee individually. 
  • Create and maintain a timetable for every assignment. 
  • Work with employees to set measurable and achievable goals. 
  • Require team members to track their progress using collaboration apps. 

4. Schedule regular meetings and check-ins with your team.

About 52% of companies have increased their effectiveness in managing distributed teams through Agile methodology, and an active leader is the core of any Agile project management team structure. The head of the remote team should proactively schedule regular check-ins with individual team members and the wider team. Ideally, there will be some overlap between each sub-team’s workday. Take advantage of this period to schedule daily stand-ups with your full team to walk through project updates. Be sure to pay attention to time zones when working across all locations. 

You should also consider semi-regular check-ins with individual team members to further build community. Regular, informal one-to-one meetings can take place as often as you need them. 

5. Prioritize online tools that promote communication and collaboration.

Effective communication and collaboration are some of the most important distributed Agile principles, and 55% of companies surveyed listed high levels of cross-collaboration and communication as a best practice. The Agile development approach allows teams to adapt quickly to change, which is only possible through regular communication.

Luckily, there are plenty of virtual synchronized workspaces available to promote healthy communication across teamsand time zones. Invest in collaborative tools that allow you to check in with your employees’ progress while also offering integration with other software you may use, like Google Suite or Outlook. Jira and Basecamp are ideal for sprint planning, while Zoom, Skype, and Slack are built for video-conferencing. Plus, you can invest in courses that enable teams to communicate well, including courses on topics like sensitive and inclusive language. 

6. Measure your team’s productivity.

The Agile Manifesto reiterates that the release of software can be improved over time to address customer needs, which is a blueprint for how to optimize any Agile project. A total of 60% of companies that have implemented Agile practices have increased team productivity and 45% of companies increased process discipline. 

Since productivity is key to the success of any distributed Agile team, it should be easy to visualize who is assigned to what task, and what needs to change to drive efficiency.

Unsure how to manage remote teams? Partner with an EOR to help.

Working with global hiring and expansion experts like G-P makes managing distributed teams easier than ever. A global Employer of Record (EOR) allows you to compliantly build teams around the globe without setting up a legal entity, so you can hire and manage distributed teams seamlessly. 

What are the benefits of an EOR? An EOR is a valuable partner that helps you manage country-specific regulations, employment norms, and expectations around the world, enabling your company to build high-performing, highly skilled global teams, quickly and simply. 

With an EOR serving as the legal employer, you can easily manage distributed teams by:

  1. Hiring anyone in the world, starting in just minutes, not months. G-P’s SaaS-based platform can help you find, hire, onboard, and manage team members quickly and compliantly. Plus, you can access more talent from a highly diverse and top-quality global talent pool. 
  2. Putting all technology in one place. Streamline international hiring, onboarding, and the overarching HR administrative process with one easy-to-use dashboard. For example, you can generate locally compliant employment contracts with just a few clicks. 
  3. Mitigating risk. During expansion, companies need legal and financial experts to help them navigate local laws. When you work with an EOR, you’re free to focus on your day-to-day operations while the EOR handles the complexities around maintaining compliance with country-specific regulations. 
  4. Testing new markets: You can hire in multiple international markets simultaneously and drive value with an EOR so you can test new markets with less risk.

Build your distributed Agile team with G-P today.

A distributed team offers efficiency and resilience and improves your chances of business success. As the recognized leader of the EOR category, we continue to help industry leaders build remote teams and manage people around the world.

Our Global Growth Platform™ offers everything you need to plan, hire, and manage global teams in 180+ countries. Together, let’s grow seamlessly beyond borders with unmatched technology and an Agile approach. 

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