Importance of Colocation in Collaboration

August 24, 2017

For many of the Scrum practices, high-bandwidth communication is required. To enable this, it is preferred that team members are colocated. Colocation allows both formal and informal interaction between team members. This provides the advantage of having team members always at hand for coordination, problem-solving, and learning. Some of the benefits of colocation are the following:

  • Questions get answered quickly.
  • Problems are fixed on the spot.
  • Less friction occurs between interactions.
  • Trust is gained and awarded much more quickly.

Collaboration tools that can be used for colocated or distributed teams are as follows:

  1. Colocated Teams (i.e., teams working in the same office)—In Scrum, it is preferable to have colocated teams. If colocated, preferred modes of communication include face-to-face interactions, Decision Rooms or War Rooms, Scrumboards, wall displays, shared tables, and so on.
  2. Distributed Teams (i.e., teams working in different physical locations)—Although colocated teams are preferred, at times the Scrum Team may be distributed due to outsourcing, offshoring, different physical locations, work-from-home options, etc. Some tools that could be used for effective collaboration with distributed teams include video conferencing, instant messaging, chats, social media, shared screens, and software tools which simulate the functionality of Scrumboards, wall displays, and so on.

If colocation is not possible and there are distributed teams, additional resources will have to be devoted to facilitate communications, understand cultural differences, synchronize work, and foster knowledge sharing.


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