Remote Tips: Tools and tips

VMware Pivotal Labs

Agreeing on the tool stack

  • Try to minimize your tool stack!
  • Agree with your team on which tools you’ll use for certain tasks:
    • Conversations via video/audio
    • Collaborate/ideate/whiteboard
    • Messaging/chat
    • Pair programming
    • Scheduling and recording events
    • Retros
    • Sharing documents
    • Product backlog
    • Team TODOs
  • Check out the Best Tools for Remote Work for tooling ideas.
  • When working with other teams (e.g., clients, collaborators) understand their tooling limitations and find the best alternatives you can.
  • Ensure everyone knows how to use the chosen tools before the project.

Learning Miro

  • Work smarter, not harder (Miro blog).
  • Structure sections in the board from left to right.
  • Add running communications and updates at the top of the board.
  • Lock things that you don’t want to be moved before the session! Select immovable items and click the padlock icon in the context menu.
  • Use standard S / M / L sticky note sizes to keep sizing consistent; select a sticky note to see the size option alongside the color.
  • Voting can be done using emojis, colored circles, or with the Miro Vote feature.
  • Use large, brightly colored headings as waypoints to help people navigate the board.
  • Use the ‘Bring everyone to me’ feature to gather participants around your cursor - click your avatar in the top right.
  • Put content inside frames, and give frames useful names; use the frames tab to quickly overview and navigate the board by clicking the frames button in the bottom-left corner menu.
  • Low-fi visuals in Miro can encourage participation; if it’s too polished people can feel intimidated.

Using Miro templates

We can save each other time if we create templates on Miro and share them with everyone.

ℹ️ Creating your own Miro templates and sharing with others

  1. Create your template content on your own Miro board; this board must be created under the team you want to share it with.
  2. Click and drag over your content to select it.
  3. Click the 3-dot button on the right side of the tooltip context menu that appears, and select “Save as template”.
  4. Give your template a useful name that will be easy for others to search for.
  5. (Optional) Add a helpful description.
  6. (Optional) Click “Select the preview area” to set a thumbnail that others will see while searching for the template.
  7. The sharing option will be “Personal” by default; select “Shared with the team”.

ℹ️ Using Miro templates created by others

  1. Create a new Miro board in your team space (this is important).
  2. Click on the templates icon on the left side of the board.
  3. Search for the template you need. If you want to see the “Introduction to Miro” template, for example, type “Introduction to Miro” into the search bar and click on it to add it to your board.
  4. If you need to, you can customize the template that appears. This will not affect the original template for everyone else.
  5. To share the board with your team and other collaborators use the Share button in the top-right of the screen.

Learning Zoom

  • Create easy-to-remember bit.ly links for Zoom rooms.
  • In the participants window, you will see options to:
    • Raise hand
    • Reply “yes” or “no”
    • Request to go slower or faster
    • Thumbs up/down
    • Clap
    • Request a break
  • Practice features with other facilitators or close team members first.

Breakout Rooms

  • Make sure a facilitator is present in each breakout room to guide conversations, or otherwise leave time for a single facilitator to visit each break out room to guide and do time checks.
  • Spend the time to set up breakout rooms before or during the session; people may need to be manually assigned to rooms; a co-facilitator helps!
  • When the time is up, everyone will be automatically kicked back to the main room - this can be an abrupt and jarring experience; advise participants how long you will break out for, and for how long an extension could be, if needed (e.g., 10 minutes, with the possibility of an extra 2 minutes).
  • Zoom will automatically maintain breakout rooms with the same participants in a single session - it helps to break into the same groups to maintain the rapport.