Teams Need to See Each Other—Eventually

We've all heard of big organizations where the top management said, “No need to ever be back in the office. Work from home, as long as you want.” And, the Wall Street Journal has this article, Business Travel Won’t Be Taking Off Soon Amid Coronavirus (you might need to subscribe to see the article). (I find the article rife with other meeting challenges.)

For some reason, these managers think we can work remotely and never see each other.

That's not my experience. And, it's not the experience of most of the remote-by-design organizations I've worked with.

In my experience, most teams need to reconnect with each other on a regular basis. My clients have mostly settled on a quarter's cadence to reconnect.

A couple of clients—and this seems to depend on their size—get subsets of people together more often. (No, they're not doing this right now.)

Most of the time, the teams can work remotely. And, every successful distributed team I've met needs some time together. When they do meet in-person, I've seen these benefits:

  • They (re)learn how to offer and receive feedback.
  • They address their working agreements.
  • They (re)build trust.

In-person meetings help people build and reinforce their interpersonal relationships. (See Lessons Learned from Leading Workshops About Geographically Distributed Agile Teams for data from some of my previous workshops.)

We don't need a ton of in-person meetings. Just as I didn't think all in-person work was reasonable, I don't think all-remote work is reasonable.

We'll need to find the right balance for remote and in-person work. And, that balance definitely depends on the work and the changes the work requires.

Teams—as long as we want them to remain teams—need to meet in person eventually.

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