Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Distributed Agile and Work-Life Balance

Posted on: 07 February '12

Agile impacts work-life balance!” This is what I heard from a project team during the initial days of 2010. The team was struggling to cope up with their commitment to deliver after repeated iterations. For them, ‘Agile’ meant not just overtime, but a lot of overtime. One of the team members commented that the team was going through a never-ending fast pace running. For this team, iterative and incremental development was becoming a tense journey.

When you are into a never-ending fast pace running, it is highly possible that you are going to drain yourself out and collapse. This can happen in distributed Agile projects.If you don’t reflect as a team, learn lessons and implement continuous improvement action plans, you are not following ‘Agile’. This can impact your work-life balance.

The way we do Agile projects needs to be aligned with the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Agile Principles. The eighth principle states that “The sponsors, developers and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” This obviously does not imply consistent extended overtime hours!  With this thought, I wanted to discuss this with a larger group and collect inputs.

It happened during November 2010.I had a speaking session at Agile Tour 2010 which was a one-day event and it included lightening talks and group discussions. I initiated a group discussion on ‘Agile and work-life balance’. That was an opportunity to understand the views of practitioners from various companies on this topic. We had participants both from India and abroad.

Agile Tour

We had an intense discussion. We shared project experiences on work-life balance issues. Before we ended the discussion, we agreed that issues related to work-life balance are not specific to ‘Agile’, and we encounter these in agile projects because of

  1. Lack of effective planning and time management
  2. Poor or erroneous estimation
  3. Not having self-organized teams
  4. Ineffective tools
  5. Weak engineering practices

Maintaining work-life balance is one of the challenges during the 21st century. If project teams have to work over time during special occasions or product releases, it is necessary to take it as a challenge and support the customer.If project teams have to work overtime throughout the project and do not get to reflect on what is causing the work-life imbalance, then the team members will get stressed out.

If you are going through work-life balance issues, conduct a retrospective with your team and try to answer the following questions:

  1. Are all team members aligned to start productive work at a mutually agreed upon start time every day?
  2. Are there any issues that prohibit the team from managing their time effectively?
  3. Do team members participate in iteration planning and estimation meetings? Is the team able to come up with better estimates as they progress from iteration to iteration?
  4. Do team members work as self-organized teams in order to improve efficiency?
  5. Is the team wasting time because of slow or ineffective tools?
  6. Are the engineering processes so weak that the team spends lot of time in reactive quality management?
  7. Is the customer giving your team enough support and listening to their feedback and concerns related to work-life balance?

It is easier said than done. What has been your experience? Let us discuss.

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  • Shreedhar Aranganathan

    Dear Raja,

    I am an orthopaedic doctor in UK. I have been researching on efforts by various sectors to address the issues of work-life balance.

    I found your article and work very interesting. I hope your efforts succeed in making your team share the vision and passion you have, at the same time, they are able to enlighten the most important part of their work(their life)


    Shreedhar Aranganathan

  • abhilash

    This is fascinating. Because of Agile my team has a better work life balance !!!

    One of my teams in my division also faced the same problem. I had a 1-1 meeting with the team members & scrum master of that team.

    Few of the biggest problems identified were:

    Lack of domain/application knowledge.

    Improper slicing of stories. Big stories were committed in sprint. It had lot of risks which were hidden. A small story would have shown the risks/issues involved.

    Non allocation of buffers in sprint planninig. A normal person cannot work 8 hours a day.There will be lot of interruptions. A sprint planning should account for these and reduce the capacity accordingly.

  • Raja Bavani

    Thanks Dr.Shreedhar for reading and commenting on this blog! Good to know that you are doing research in this area. My best wishes to you!

  • Raja Bavani

    Dear Abhilash,

    Thanks for sharing the top three problem areas along with your experience.

    Our ability to say ‘No’, and our positive attitude in accomodating changes or new requests is yet another reason that creates work-life balance issues. Have you come across this symptom? Any thoughts?