Have Effective Stand-Up Meetings as a Remote Team

Published on 07 Jun 2018 - Updated on 26 Apr 2021

At ExaVault, we’ve been working remotely for over a decade. We keep ourselves sane with annual in-person meetings in far-flung locations – but during the day-in, day-out slog of software development, we’re all just sitting in our own little offices, talking to a computer.

So, how do we manage to hold effective daily Stand Up meetings, given the remote work culture that we’ve built?

Person working on laptop having video meeting with coworker.

What is a Stand-Up meeting, anyway?

Before we dive into how we conduct stand-up at ExaVault, let’s establish what we mean first. 

The Daily Stand-Up is a ceremony in the Scrum framework of Agile development. It should be short, focused, and energetic. Its purpose is to bring all team members up to speed quickly, typically at the start of each day.

What do we say during Stand-Up?

Each team member answers three questions during the Stand-Up ceremony:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you going to do today? 
  3. Are you blocked, and if so, by what?

Interestingly enough, in 2017, these questions were made optional in the Scrum Guide. And in 2020, they were removed from the Scrum Guide altogether to make the entire meeting less prescriptive.

Here at ExaVault, we still answer these questions during Stand-Up, just like many teams do throughout the world!

So how do we conduct our Stand-Up meetings? Read on to learn about Stand-Up at ExaVault!

We DO use Zoom with video turned on.

We get that video calls can be exhausting, especially for introverts (and we’ve got more than our fair share of them on our team). But it’s important to get the non-verbal context when you’re moving quickly through each team member’s updates.

So we try and always use Zoom with our cameras turned on. The rule at ExaVault is that you’ve got your camera turned on 4 out of 5 times. (Everybody is allowed to have bad hair days.)

Stand-up meeting on Zoom with cameras on and people dressed up for holiday.

We DON’T talk about blocks during Stand Up.

In order to keep our Stand-Up meetings short and to the point, we swarm follow-up meetings in smaller groups after everyone answers the three standard Stand-Up questions that are listed above.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. At Stand-Up, a coworker mentions that they’re blocked and need help.
  2. Another coworker volunteers to act as a “rubber duck” to solve the problem.
  3. Follow-up conversations are tracked in an Asana project.
  4. Follow-ups are swarmed immediately after Stand-Up.

List of follow-up tasks which are done right after stand-up.

This process is unique to ExaVault, and honestly, we love it. Coupled with the typical Stand-Up meetings, this practice gets everyone up to speed without wasting anyone’s precious time.

We DO share our calendars via screen share.

The Scrum Master shares their screen during Stand-Up in order to show each person’s Asana calendar while they answer the three Stand-Up questions.

This practice not only helps keep everyone focused on what’s being discussed but also helps jog everyone’s memory as to what’s been accomplished! After all, when you’re very busy, sometimes it’s hard to remember what you’ve actually accomplished.

We also like that only one person shares their screen during Stand-Up. This keeps the meeting shorter because it eliminates the need for screen share handoffs.

We DON’T have too many people in the meeting.

Here at ExaVault, every single employee participates in Stand-Up – not just the developers. Until recently, we were a pretty small team – so everyone attended the same Stand-Up meeting.

That format got too unwieldy, though, so we separated Stand-Up into three separate meetings: Operations, Development, and Marketing. 

Stand-up calendar event divided into three meetings.

Now, employees will jump into the Stand-Up meeting that most applies to their workday. If that involves frontend development for the marketing website, that might mean a developer attends the Marketing Stand-Up for a day.

This format keeps everyone up to speed without wasting anyone’s time.

ExaVault loves Stand-Up, and we hope you do too!

If you’re considering using a Stand-Up meeting to keep your team working efficiently, we highly recommend it.

This practice has helped keep everyone on our team up-to-speed without too much time investment. And after all, who wants more time spent in meetings? Not us, that’s for sure!

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