Daily standup meetings have become a staple in the modern workplace, especially for agile teams who work in the ever-changing world of software development.
The same type of meeting can have more than one name and format; sometimes it's referred to as a "daily scrum" by your development team, or other groups or team members might refer to it as a "status update meeting" or "roll-call."
Despite the change in name or format, the goal behind these meetings is the same — a quick progress update to the rest of the team and/or to get support on blockers. These standup meetings put into focus which work items are immediate priorities and how team members can help overcome impediments.
This article will dive into the purpose of running daily standup meetings and share some tips and tools to help you get the most out of your daily huddle.
What is the purpose of daily standup meetings?
The purpose of a daily standup is connected to project management. The daily status meeting ensures that the whole team is available to answer the questions:
- What needs our immediate focus?
- What is the rest of the team working on?
- Do all stakeholders understand the goals?
At its best, the daily standup meeting helps keep everyone on track with strategic goals. The consistency helps to align team members on key tasks and fosters collaboration across the entire team.
When a meeting is mismanaged, daily standups can seem like a waste of time, pulling the team from competing priorities. After too many unproductive meetings, the risk can lead to disengagement and ultimately employee turnover. To learn how you can avoid this, keep reading.
What’s the best standup agenda format?
Since the optimal daily standup should not exceed 15 minutes in length, it’s crucial to set and stick to an agenda.
In most-every standup, the three questions to answer are:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What are you doing today?
- Are you blocked on anything?
These questions will reveal to the group what their coworkers are working on and potentially where they can lend a hand, and then it's on to the next person.
The standup meeting is not the place for problem-solving since the goal is to keep the meeting short and sweet. The facilitator will pay attention to the time to ensure that the group stays on topic. If needed, team members will meet separately via other channels to brainstorm once they've decided to collaborate.
Is running daily standup meetings the same for distributed teams?
The goals of a daily scrum, standup, or similar type of meeting are the same whether you're in-person or managing remotely.
That said, if you opt for a traditional daily standup format it can pose some additional challenges for your remote team for a few reasons:
- Lining up a meeting among different time zones can mean some members may have to be available outside their regular working day hours.
- Even if the meeting time is within work hours, it might be disruptive to some of the team members' workflow. Failing to recognize that people have different peak focus periods in the day is a common mistake that can be counterproductive.
- When daily standups fail to remain relevant to the whole team, it might push people to disengage. According to our research, 90% of attendees are multitasking in meetings. They’re not all looking for new jobs on LinkedIn either; 75% reported completing work-related tasks during virtual meetings.
These logistical challenges make a compelling case for an asynchronous meeting format for remote teams since it provides more flexible response times. Using apps like Polly for daily standups also means that you have a system of record that allows you to meaningfully keep track of team goals.
Synchronous vs. asynchronous: What's the difference?
As we mentioned earlier, daily standup meetings have the same goals but may differ in how they’re carried out. Let’s talk about format since there are a few key differences in how synchronous and asynchronous sessions benefit teams.
When we say daily standup, most people default to thinking of synchronous meetings; here are some of the key traits of this format:
- Everyone meets together at a specific time of day, whether in-person (as usual pre-pandemic or in hybrid workplaces), or over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
- The entire team takes turns to answer the three questions mentioned above in sequence.
- There is face-to-face engagement and an expectation of immediacy.
This has evolved to a newer format for daily standups as workplaces have adapted to remote or hybrid models. Here are some key qualities:
- Generally refers to a meeting that happens not in sequence.
- It still occurs within a set timeframe, but it spans over a more extended period that provides flexibility to participants.
- Team members can answer the questions at their own pace.
With synchronous meetings, much time goes into determining the appropriate length of the session, which time of day the meeting should occur, and how frequently it should happen. It can be challenging to reach a consensus when members are sprawled out in different timezones or have mismatched peak productivity hours within their day.
Asynchronous meetings alleviate that struggle by providing a reasonable window of time that allows your remote team members to answer at a time that is best for them.
Polly provides tools for effective standup meetings specifically for remote teams
Using Polly for asynchronous meetings is a flexible way to help a distributed team be more efficient.
Since the app integrates well with tools your team is already using, it’s an effortless way to keep everyone up-to-date with tasks and projects. It’s all referenced and accessible in-app, so team members can attend to business priorities without ever feeling that they’re “missing out” on valuable information.
If you're interested in testing an asynchronous daily standup format within your team, Polly has the right features to make it a seamless experience.
A safe way to get started is to replace one or two synced daily meetings with an asynchronous format. This balance helps reduce meeting fatigue while still keeping some of that human connection while working remotely.
In general, Polly offers more convenience, efficiency, and focus for your entire team.
- ⚡️Templates: Our library features a template in-app that you can use to create your daily standup in minutes. Use the template as-is with Quick Create, or modify the template with questions that suit your goals.
- 💡Richer insights: You'll be able to keep track of standup results from the web app. You can then export the data to Google Sheets for further analysis.
- 🔗 Easy integration: Polly works well with the tools you're already using, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, so there's a minimal learning curve to getting the team onboard.
Pro tips: Ensure team buy-in by explaining the purpose for the format change (more flexibility) and empower them to provide meeting feedback. Change can be uncomfortable for some, so it can be helpful to provide this context.
Use Polly to run a better daily standup
Polly customers who have switched to asynchronous daily standup meetings love the results they see when they can achieve the same caliber of updates in one-quarter of the time.
Platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have become like our virtual conference rooms, and there's a smart way to work with them that saves everyone time.
Try Polly for free to see how it seamlessly integrates with the tools you're already using to enhance meetings and the quality of team feedback. When standups run smoothly, it allows the team to stay updated, connected, and supported without disrupting their workflow, and that's something your team will continue to appreciate and benefit from all day long.
Try Polly for free to instantly improve your employee engagement.
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Written by Briana Biancolin
As a nomadic freelance writer, story lover, and professional snacker from Toronto, Canada, Briana's love of writing (and entrepreneurship) started as a kid when she would take the proceeds from her lemonade stand to buy notebooks and pens. After 5 years in creative recruitment, she took the plunge into freelance life, moved to Europe, and began writing full-time on topics like start-ups, wellness, design, travel, and tech.