An Agile mindset thrives on the benefits of collaboration, cross-functional teams that work jointly, and everyone involved in the project. Collaboration breaks down silos, promotes face-to-face communication, and builds trust.

Feature teams get a better understanding of the business requirements and vision - the WHAT and WHY. The leadership and users get an insight into the evolving solution and planning - the HOW and WHEN.

A collaborative work environment is a better place!

That is unless you are a member of a service team, for example cloud, DevOps, infrastructure, security, or test as-a-service team. You will find yourself dealing with excessive context switching, which will stifle innovation and cripple productivity of any team or team member bombarded by interruptions.

There are ways to minimise context switching. Use asynchronous communication tools, such as slack or the infamous email. Teams can decide when to monitor and react to messages, or close all hatches when there is a need to focus without interruptions.  

Don’t send an asynchronous message and then walk over to the recipient to follow-up face-to-face – it promotes context switching and negates the value of asynchronous messaging.

There is typically a team member who is willing to monitor and respond to messages. If not, the team can introduce a rotating role who is on call.

To cut a long story short. Yes, collaboration and context switching can coexist if and only if interruptions are managed and tracked!

Remember to include interruptions and associated context switching as unplanned work. It impacts the team's velocity!

Watch for team members continuously blocking out their environment with headsets, hiding in other quiet areas, or decorating their monitors with sticky notes of things to remember.

They are telltale signs of team members suffering from excessive interruptions and context switching.

Tell us how deal with context switching.