Daily stand-ups for remote teams

I recommend having daily stand-ups via video conference so the team can talk about what they’re working on, ask for help, and strengthen team bonds.

However, one of the advantages of running a remote working team is that you can hire people in different time zones.

My current team consists of people who live in the UK and New Zealand, and I’m aware that daily stand-ups imposes a burden on Alex, our UX lead from New Zealand, especially when for 6 months of the year there’s a 13 hour time difference.

It’s possible for Alex to get a complete understanding of what the team’s been working on from the kanban board and collaboration tools, but as a team we’ve come appreciate the connectedness of the daily video calls.

If daily stand-ups work for you, and like us your team spans multiple timezones, then it’s important to ensure there are suitable overlapping working hours.

Alex usually starts work after the school run, has some time off in the afternoon and then resumes work in the evening, just as we’re starting to work in the UK. This time shifting has enabled us to put aside some time, UK morning, when the whole team is able to work together.

However, If I need to speak to Alex about a piece of work and there’s no need to include anyone else from the team, I will call him in the evening UK time, his morning, to redress the balance.

When setting a time for your standup (regardless of the time zones your team are working in) it’s important to pick a time and stick to it. The earlier the better, so the team can get on with their work without being interrupted.

If someone can’t attend the standup for whatever reason then it’s important they provide a written status report which can be included in the team discussion.

How long should the stand-up be?

I’m asked this a lot.

The stand-up should be as long as necessary. We have calls that last anywhere from 10 mins to 1 hour, depending on what we need to discuss.

I rarely allow the call to break over the hour mark, but if it does then so be it. I’d sooner we spent longer on a call to create the clarity we need to complete a task then cut it short and have the team go off and do the wrong thing.

What do you talk about?

Depending on the day we discuss the following:

  • Monday – Weekly goal confirmation, and any issues that are unresolved from last week.
  • Tuesday – Thursday – Task focused discussion, blockers, and briefing in any new work.
  • Friday – Task focused discussion, blockers, and a retrospective of what we’ve achieved this week.

That said, our stand-ups are pretty informal, sometime we walk the kanban board. Sometimes we do a round-robin. Sometimes it’s a show-and-tell.

Remote work shouldn’t lead to isolation for the team. Our stand-ups helps to connect to team to each and ensure that we have all the clarity and transparency we need to get our work done.


When i originally published Daily stand-ups for a remote working team. I got the following article recommended to me on Medium:

Status meetings are the worst kinds of meetings. Eliminate them and you’ll actually know more, save a pile of money…

Jason Fried offers a persuasive case for ditching daily stand-ups and using digital (written) check ins.

I agree this is a worthy goal. Daily stand-ups as, i mentioned in my article, are a burden especially to people working in different timezones. They are also quite redundant, if all you’re doing is walking the task list and restating what you’ve already written down.

However, remote working, especially in the early days, can be quite isolating. and quite a few people tell me they worry about missing people, not getting out of the house etc.

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