Nearly half of workers we surveyed stated that 40% or more of the time spent on video conference calls was unproductive and wasteful
We’ve seen that increasing the number of meetings does not lead to increased output. So the question is how can we maximize our sync time, and reassess how meetings are conducted so that they’re not a huge waste of time?
Let’s take a look at Daily Standups – a meeting format used around the world to ensure projects are continuing swimmingly, but often end up becoming a time suck for everyone involved.
This article explains why daily standups are an excellent way to improve output and productivity. We also tell you how to make the best of daily standups and things to avoid.
What is a daily standup?
Daily standups are essentially status update meetings, where the team comes together to sync, share progress, and troubleshoot quick issues. A daily standup follows some basic rules: provide only specific details (achievements, goals, and blockers) and disperse in under 15 minutes.
Regular meetings with team members are still essential to keep your team in sync, but they often run too long because of differing opinions and excessively detailed discussions.
What does a daily standup look like?
Effective daily standup meetings ensure everyone’s working towards the same goal. All daily standups have a simple meeting agenda: attendees are required to answer three questions––and if you’ve been part of a daily standup meeting, you may already be familiar with them:
What did you work on yesterday?
What will you work on today?
Are you facing or expecting any impediments?
Daily standups are an excellent way to ensure that all members are focusing on tasks that drive the team or company towards the bigger goal. Consistently sharing progress and discussing blockers helps the team center efforts towards current priorities without diluting focus.
Many team managers may also refer to daily standups as daily scrum meeting, retrospectives, daily huddle, status updates, and morning roll-call, but they’re essentially talking of the same format — short meetings for syncing the team.
How to run an effective and agile daily standup meeting
If you’ve never been a part of daily standup meetings before, you might wonder what you can do to maximize a daily standup’s effectiveness. The simple answer is to just follow some basic principles — here’s what you should be mindful of to ensure daily standups are effective:
Who should attend: All team members should participate in daily standup meetings.
How long should it last: Ideally, standup meetings should last no longer than 15 minutes.
When to hold it: Aim to hold meetings at the beginning of the work day at the same time.
Suppose that your team includes five members — you, Chinara, Pooja, Ahmed, and Jess.
Now, picture this: You’re in a development team status meeting with your team members and everyone is taking turns to share what work items they’re currently tackling. Ahmed is currently sharing his progress, and you’re next.
Are you really listening to Ahmed, or are you checking your slack messages or busy thinking about what you’ll say when it’s your turn? In most cases, it’s the latter and, while it’s pretty common for people to want to prepare before they speak to avoid saying anything they weren’t supposed to, it unfortunately defeats the purpose of daily standups.
A simple solution to the pressure of speaking in group meetings could be an asynchronous communication tool like Loom, which allows teams to record their responses so other teammates can view them at their own time and pace. If a member has a solution to a teammate's issue, they can easily add it to the comments of the Loom.
Additionally, if all team members are unable to huddle at the same time, it can disrupt the cadence of daily standups. Loom is an agile solution for the common issue of finding the right time to meet across multiple schedules, especially in distributed environments.
What to avoid when running a daily standup meeting
Just like you can do things to ensure the effectiveness of daily standups, there are some common mistakes you should try to avoid when running daily standup meetings to make sure they’re effective. Here’s what you should be mindful of:
Don’t break the “rules” of daily standup
Following the basic principles of daily standup meetings are essential for them to be effective. For example, you should keep these status updates within a 15 minute time frame. If it’s longer, you might be discussing things outside the scope of a daily standup meeting.
It’s best not to tackle any specific issues during a daily standup. Sure, you still want to mention impediments you’re facing, but save solutions for after the standup.
Don’t use this time for problem solving
Teams might have issues outside the scope of the three things (achievements, goals, and blockers) discussed in a daily standup. But stick to the meeting agenda.
For example, you may want to brainstorm a solution for a hurdle you’re facing on a sprint goal when an expert who might have a solution is also present in the room. While group meetings are perfect for discussing such issues, they aren’t a good match for daily standup meetings.
Keep the daily standup meeting lean — focus only on answering the three key questions, and disperse.
Don’t go into details
Summarize your goals for the day and save the details for afterward.
Your intention may be to give the team a better understanding of what you’re working on, but the details may not be relevant for all team members.
If you think details might be necessary for one or more members, discuss them after the daily standup meeting, or send a Loom to the relevant teams members and provide context-rich information.
Don’t provide feedback
For starters, daily standups are too short for helpful, constructive feedback. Moreover, some members might zone out when you get into the nitty-gritty of a task or project they’re not involved in.
The best way to share feedback is using an async communication tool like Loom. Providing feedback with a Loom video ensures that you and the recipient have enough time to view the feedback.
How video can improve your daily standup
Daily standups require all members to be present at the same time each day, but what about on distributed teams when the whole team isn’t in one place?
Time zone differences can make daily standup meetings unfair for some remote teams — if you have a team member in India, they’ll be getting ready for bed when you’re having your morning cup of Joe. Asking them to work late at night isn’t the best practice and may even be illegal in some places.
Using a video platform like Loom effectively addresses the timezone problem. You can have team members record their responses to the three daily standup questions each day, and members can view a teammate’s video at a time that works best for them.
In addition to flexibility, asynchronous meetings ensure you have a trail of communication for daily standups.
For example, say you need information about something that was discussed during the daily standup two days ago. You don’t remember it anymore and are reluctant to interrupt another member.
If you use Loom videos, you won’t have to.
You’ll always have links to previous videos and if you have further questions, you can add a text or inline comment. Teammates can answer the question at a time that best suits them.
Become Agile with Daily Standups
Daily standups help teams sync and become more agile by focusing on what’s important and allowing members to identify and address blockers before they become a problem. Daily standups are an excellent way to make workflows frictionless without investing significant time or resources. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the rest of the team is also finding value in a daily standup meeting!
Implementing daily standups may be tricky for remote or hybrid teams, though. If one of the members is absent, you can’t have a daily standup, but using an async tool like Loom for daily standups offers a great solution.
Are you about to start daily standups, or want to make them async? Try Loom for efficient async communication.