The daily standup is a powerful tool used by teams to move projects forward. Born out of the agile development process, standups are now used by all sorts of teams — not just engineering — as a way to check-in and tackle work together.
In theory, effective daily standups are short and sweet. Fifteen minutes to come together each morning to align, unblock, and set each other up for success that day.
In reality though, most tend to morph into something very different. They may become unwieldy and ineffective, distracting and draining, or simply a poor use of the whole team’s time. For today’s remote and hybrid teams, balancing timezones and schedules adds another layer of complexity to the mix.
No matter where you work, teams today operate much differently than they did a few years ago. It’s only natural that our standups should evolve along with us.
In this article, we’ll cover a new, asynchronous approach to the daily standup and how teams are using it to their advantage.
Standups are normally defined as a short, synchronous check-in where team members come together to review progress and triage new issues.
The scrum meeting agenda is designed to be fast and focused — with three cornerstone standup questions asked during the daily scrum meeting.
Quick and concise. Move to the next attendee.
Standups stray from their original purpose for a number of different reasons. Maybe your team grew in size or scope, or shifted from remote work to hybrid work, and what worked in the past now feels clunky or ineffective.
Here are some examples of what a well-intentioned meeting to empower your team can start to look like when it strays from its original purpose.
If any of these sound like your team’s standup, it’s a good signal that it’s time to rethink your approach.
Leadership Tip: If your team is experiencing challenges with standups and other forms of day-to-day communication, it's OK! Friction is an inevitable part of working on a fast-moving team.
Check out our interview with Dan Na, Senior Engineering Manager at Squarespace, to learn strategies for pushing through friction on your software development team.
Asynchronous standups are standups that happen without the need for a meeting or real-time conversation. Teammates participate in them by answering pre-set questions and reviewing each other’s responses in their own time.
Whether you manage a remote team or all work together in an office, async communication (and standups in particular) can unlock a lot of meaningful benefits. Flexibility and clarity of team communication are big ones — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
When you move your daily standups to an async format, you help your team reduce its meeting dependency and, as a result, get more done.
Having written updates and source of truth where they all live ensures everyone on the team has the same amount of context and alignment around in-flight work. That way, when you do come together to meet, meeting time can be used for group problem-solving and creative collaboration, rather than rote updates.
When you cover updates asynchronously, everything’s written down so it’s easy to find and reference information — even after the standup is over. It gives everyone on the team a clear picture of who’s working on what (with more context than a 30-second round-robin update allows for) and gives managers visibility into how projects are moving forward without having to hound folks for details.
Planning your day each morning is a powerful way to set yourself up for success — and async status updates help you do just that. Developing the habit of planning your day, deciding where you’re going to focus, and sharing updates asynchronously helps folks build autonomy, purpose, and a sense of accomplishment as they check things off their list.
Not everyone on your team may be comfortable speaking up in meetings. Async status updates give everyone an equal voice and allow individuals a way to prepare before coming together. When you give folks the ability to read and share status updates beforehand, they’re less likely to be caught off guard or feel singled out by questions that come up during a meeting.
Many modern teams defy boundaries, with team members working on opposite sides of the country — or opposite sides of the globe. In these situations, scheduling synchronous standups can be a headache. Running standups asynchronously solves this challenge beautifully since everyone can check in when it fits into their schedules.
Workplace flexibility is one of today’s most talked-about employer benefits — so much so that a recent study by the Harvard Business Review finds that 59% of workers cite flexibility as more important than salary or other benefits. Asynchronous standups are one great way to offer that flexibility, especially when people are working remotely. Rather than forcing everyone to rearrange their routines so that they can all make time for a meeting, they give your team the freedom to work and respond when it’s convenient for them to do so.Share an asynchronous daily standup in Range for free.
“I think managers can wield asynchronous work to drive productivity. Research suggests that most people don't actually contribute in meetings and that meetings interrupt their focus time — making it more difficult to complete tasks day-to-day. By defaulting to asynchronous work, you can reduce the number of meetings to eliminate those blockers to productivity.” — Marc Boscher, CEO of Unito
Getting async standups right can take some practice. Here are some common challenges teams might come up against — and tips for how to work through them.
One of the benefits of async communication — the flexibility — can also be a drawback. If you’re blocked on something and want to flag it to be resolved quickly, you have to wait until a teammate sees your async standup and responds.
Quick fix: Establish team channels and norms — like texts or Slack DMs — for the things that need immediate, urgent attention. In your daily async standup, use flags to callout areas where you need help unblocking work or want feedback.
“How's it going?” is both a remarkably simple question and a remarkably powerful act. During meetings, a lot of belonging cues happen behind the scenes to strengthen team bonds. When async standups replace regular facetime, teams can feel disconnected and, over time, trust can even take a hit.
Quick fix: There are lots of ways to invest in your team’s culture and connection that don’t sacrifice the sanctity of your daily standup. Try daily team-building questions to start. Pro move: When you run your async standup through Range, a team-building question is automatically built in every day.
In a typical back-and-forth conversation, the natural flow generally lets people offer ideas and request clarifications. With async standups, getting a question answered or more details on a certain project can be a waiting game.
Quick fix: Build guidelines and prompts for your team to follow when they share their async standup updates each morning. Not only does this make it easier for everyone to share, it’ll also ensure you’re collecting the same level of detail every single time.
Async standups help teams improve information flow, increase productivity, and (with fewer meetings) hopefully stay a bit more sane. If you’re like other effective teams out there, and looking to make the async move, Range Check-ins are your best bet.
With Range Check-Ins, you can:
And as you’re getting started, Range makes it easy to overcome any async communication challenges that might come up along the way too. Range Check-ins help today’s teams move quickly and effectively.Start with Range for free.