What Are Working Agreements

Gitlab, the open source development tooling company, has instilled in its distributed team culture a working agreement that outlines how remote work should be done. They call it “The Remote Manifesto,” which is also part of onboarding new employees. Steve starts asking for proposed deals in his first area of interest: the daily Scrum start time. After all possible working arrangements, it uses the Decision-Maker Protocol[2] to quickly seek consensus. If there is no immediate consensus, the person who said “no” to an idea suggests what they think is a better idea. When several people have a problem, everyone is supposed to offer a better idea. If too many people say no, the applicant should consider withdrawing the proposal. Every few sprints, Steve asks in a retrospective: “Is this still our working arrangement? Is there anything you want to change?┬áThe list evolves as team members find other areas where they see benefits. After six months, they are much more able to cope with tense problems within the team or when the pressure from the outside increases on them.

Work modalities are often used in the context of agility, but can be used by any team. Through the work agreement process, teams are made more aware of the interaction between individuals. Finally, review and iterate on the effectiveness of your work arrangements to improve your team`s knowledge. Keeping a work agreement fresh and respected is really where the magic happens.


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