When I opened Twitter today I stumbled on this post by a developer:

“Working in an office is a thing in the past. Why are you still commuting to a physical building?”

Sort of a coincidence: The company I am currently working for has a 90%-remote policy and only hours ago I had asked my direct reports to make sure that their teams get together at least once every two weeks in one of our three headquarters (travelling expenses covered). So why did I take this decision? Thinking stuck in past? No.

I have been working with remote teams for nearly five years now, long before the pandemia started. In this time I have learned that working together can be very productive in a remote setting once you have the necessary tooling set up. With chat tools like Slack or Teams, collaborative IDEs, distributed version control and development, test and production environments in the cloud teams can perform as good as if “in one room”. Or can’t they?

Well, at least I think they have the potential to do better if they meet from time to time, because working together and creating solutions together is not only a technical thing but also a social one. And while we all think that it is sufficient to see our teammates regularly in online meetings and we might even see ourselves as a part of a global community with lots of friends on Twitter (#techtwitter) or other social networks we miss one thing: Nothing creates more bonds between people than actually being together physically. It’s not only work if you meet in your office again. It’s also the game of table tennis during a break, a pizza or salad for lunch together, a chat at the coffee machine in the kitchen, you name it. People with a stronger bond have more trust in each other, they have better abilities to come up with creative solutions and quick decisions. I could tell dozens of anecdotes about short-curcuit-agreements between me and other project team members or stakeholders that we made while we were just sitting on a couch with a cup of coffee (without having a planned meeting) or just playing tablesoccer. But also stories about decision and planning meetings that did not take hours, but merely a few minutes. Just because all people in the meeting knew each other well and everybody felt by heart: “We are one team and we want to achieve a common goal.”