Voices of Remote Work
4 min

The Framework That Makes Every Stand-up Meeting Successful | Lucas da Costa

For Walking Meetings & Remote Work

Stand-up meetings are a great way for teams to stay updated on projects and identify any roadblocks. In a remote environment, it can be challenging to keep these meetings efficient and on topic. We went on a walk with  Lucas da Costa to learn about his experience with stand-up meetings and the framework he uses to keep his meetings focused and on track. 

Spot: You are remote and very passionate about ensuring your remote meetings stay productive. Could you tell me about that?

Lucas: Yea. I’ve been working remotely for a long time. I've worked with people in the US, worked with people in Norway, I’ve worked with people from all over the place and to be honest, I quite like the freedom of just being anywhere, so that’s really important to me. There is some serendipity that you lose by not being in the same office, so you need to compensate for that in a way. And that's why I was so interested in trying to make my stand-ups work when everyone is not in the same room. If you make meetings more efficient, you have more time to connect with folks and other opportunities to not only talk about work. If you can do more in less time, you get more time to actually connect with your coworkers which is really important for the team’s overall productivity and well-being.

S: 100%! How do you conduct your stand-up meetings? 

L: At my previous company I was leading a team of about 6 people. At the time we used to do stand-ups in a more conventional format and followed the rules by the book, but we felt like there were significant improvements to be made - especially in this remote environment. And that's what got me thinking about how, “Ok, so what can I do to make these more productive?”

  1. Stop focusing on people and start focusing on tasks that need to get done. Stand-ups are not made for individuals to prove they've been productive, they are for teams to identify blockers, and get tasks done sooner.
  1. Always go through a Kanban board during your stand-up. Using a Kanban board helps people remain focused on what they must deliver, not on random story-telling. Start from what is in process then move on to what has been completed. 
  1. Focus on blocked pieces of work and their age. When people say a task is blocked, talk about what must be done to unblock it. The longer a piece of work has been open, the more likely it will be for it to remain open.
  1. Include designers and product managers in your stand-ups. More often than not, tasks will be blocked because of unclear requirements, missing designs, and other general product and design-related questions.
  1. Any discussion that takes more than two minutes and does not involve unblocking a task should be dealt with in a separate meeting. By pushing discussions to separate meetings you will ensure everyone remains focused.

S: So has that structure been successful in helping your team get more done? 

L: When you have a structure and you have a place to get to, you avoid rambling. So if you do some previous prep, then that avoids going on tangents and allows people to say, “hey this is not what this meeting is about, let’s talk about that in another opportunity,” and keep things focused. 

S: Do you do any of your meetings, stand-ups or others, while walking as we are doing now? 

L: It depends a lot on the meeting. There are some meetings when you need to dig deep into the code, or if you are programming with someone, I think that would be quite difficult to do. But there are other opportunities where you can easily do it while walking, like if you're having a meeting between a lot of people and a single person is presenting. I don't see why you couldn't do that walking.

S: Do you think having an option like walking meetings on Spot is something you can see yourself using?

L: I can see many people using that. I know plenty of people who actually do that when they have large meetings with many folks and only a single person is presenting. It is a good opportunity to go for a walk while you are paying attention. You can have other meetings where you don't need to have a visual resource and you can have that just blend into your life as you are walking to grab coffee or you have some errands to run.

Are you a leader in the remote work space with a perspective on productivity and process for remote teams? Then we want to hear from you! Book time with a Walking Coach here.

Men walking with Spot's mascot


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