How Meeting Face-to-face Improved A Remote Team’s Output

Bernard O'Flynn

CTO & CPO at Itsapark



"We had an onsite team of 80 people who were far more productive than an offsite team which also had around 80 engineers. They were equally skilled as engineers, but the offsite team wasn't producing the quality or output we were looking for. We needed to figure out why."

Actions taken

"We started out by trying to determine whether it was a training issue. To do this, we sent some of our onsite team's senior engineers to visit our offsite team. While it helped a little, it didn't have the big impact we were looking for. We also looked at changing some of the leaders in the teams around, bringing the team from offsite to onsite, and sending whole teams across to the other team. Ultimately, we found that sending whole teams across worked the best. We sent a team of around 10 people to the offsite team and spent a week to two weeks with them every six to eight weeks. This really helped our engineers to get up to speed, and to produce the output we were expecting. We also realized we needed to increase communication between the two teams. To do this, we set up Skype and had it on all the time, so the two teams could easily communicate with each other. We also tried blending teams, so they consisted of both onsite and offsite team members. This didn't work at all, but after experimenting with team configuration we found that what did work was if the teams were co-located in each location, but the teams moved back and forth from the two locations for a week or two."

Lessons learned

"Most people enjoyed traveling, and the developers who were going across from onsite to offsite were excited to share their knowledge and to train their colleagues. If people don't see each other face-to-face or hang out with each other, they lose trust for one another."

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Bernard O'Flynn

CTO & CPO at Itsapark

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