Regular face-to-face updates (sync-ups, catch-up meetings, or whatever you call it) have become incredibly popular. However, at the same time, companies realize that having a regular sync-up meeting with the entire team involved also has some drawbacks. It's evident that these (e.g. daily) in-person updates take up too much time. And what's more, if you run a company with distributed teams working in different time zones, it's not that easy to keep in touch with them. Therefore some companies decided to rely on virtual updates. Let's have a look at both written and face-to-face updates and discuss what their pros and cons are.
Daily face-to-face updates call for mandatory synchronization, which means that all of the team members have to be available at the same time and the same place (or at least via video call). It might make sense for small teams, which work together in one place. However, it's almost impossible to arrange a regular meeting if your team consists of teammates located in multiple time zones. Imagine you have a remote teammate working from San Francisco, California, and a team member working from Prague, the Czech Republic. There's an eight hours difference. It wouldn't make sense to have a video catch-up asking a team member working in Prague about what he/she plans to do today if the his/her working day is almost at the end.
F2F Meetings Break Your Day
Apart from these apparent challenges listed above, there is also an additional drawback when having F2F update meetings. One of them is that regular meetings break your every working day. This breaking gets even more escalated when you have some other meetings arranged. And what happens then? Your day is totally broken. And you have only some short non-meetings blocks, where you can work. But the question is - what can you actually finish during these short blocks?
F2F Meetings Contribute to the Team's Spirit
On the other side, face to face meetings also have some significant advantages. The entire team regularly gathers, which contributes to the team spirit and bonding. Teammates are always in daily sync-up with others. During the updates, they listen to their colleagues about their work progress, and if something is blocking them, they can quickly suggest a help, solution or decide to elaborate on the problem later on. Sometimes during the updates, impediments can also be immediately solved or decisions made, which help act agilely.
As mentioned above, for remote teams, it makes sense to adopt an alternative to F2F update meetings. At this place, asynchronous virtual updates find their role. The most important advantage is that they don't require all team members to be available at the same place and time. Team members can write their updates when they have time (usually when they are about to finish their working day). If the updates are shared (and they should be to keep in sync the entire team), the team members have the opportunity to react to the updates of their colleagues whenever they want to. They don't have to respond immediately as compared to the F2F meetings. This is a massive advantage that so many companies don't realize. When you have some time to think, you can organize your thoughts and only after that, respond.
Virtual Stand-ups Are Written and hence Have Record
Furthermore, there is always a piece of written evidence about every team member's update. Everyone can go back and read the updates anytime. It helps keep the overall overview of the work done and transparency in the entire team. To achieve this goal, you need to use a suitable software tool such as Scrumie that offers you a simple overview of the work done that's visible to the team. And for sure, virtual stand-ups also have some cons. The most obvious is that if team members write their updates instead of discussing them F2F, they don't have that much regular F2F contact. This is obviously not good for the team relations. Furthermore, asynchronous updates might also slow down the process of making agile decisions.
To sum up, it's clear that virtual updates offer a great alternative to F2F meetings. Especially if you work remotely or have some teammates working from different world places, you will definitely benefit from the written updates. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings or virtual updates? Share your experience with us!