I work with a team who operate a flexible workday. Some team members habitually arrive in the office at 7:30am, while others usually get in around 9:45. When the team was first formed, they tried to carry over a practice from their previous teams, in which the daily stand-up meetings were held at a fixed time of 9:30 or 9:45. The new group quickly found that this didn’t quite work for them, as the arrival times of the later folks tended to be somewhat unpredictable.
The team discussed the situation at their next weekly retrospective. The suggestion to abandon flexi-time was soundly rejected by both early and late comers. So the team adopted a compromise: the daily stand-up would occur as soon as the last team member arrived.
After a few weeks a different problem became apparent, and one day a manager pointed it out: “I want to come to your stand-ups, but I can’t schedule them because I never know when they’ll happen.” Non-members of the team now couldn’t predict when the stand-up would occur, so they stopped coming. Communication with other groups in the organisation had reduced, without anyone really noticing. And the team itself now seemed just a little more aloof. The change had been imperceptible, but nonetheless a small barrier had erected itself around the team.
At this week’s retrospective, the team decided to fix the stand-up time at 10am (and all agreed to be in work by then).
One of the pillars of open communication is predictability.