San Francisco has just required that most business offer paid sick leave. According to Benefitnews.com 43% of all American workers have no paid sick leave benefit.
Our development team spends most of it’s time in a group room around pairing stations.
Per Alistair Cockburn, commons allow for highly efficient warm modes of communication. Unfortunately, commons spread disease like a daycare center. One cold can easily work through three or four team members. Plentiful supplies of tissue, wipes and hand sanitizer are standard operating procedure.
As is strong encouragement that sick team members stay home. Ironically enough, with a performing agile team this is a hard message to communicate because they simply don’t want to let their team down.
Modern technology to the rescue! Our office is in Manhattan and we have workers who live in New Jersey and Long Island. In a city that manages to be shut down at least once a year for tragic or trivial reasons, we are setup to telecommute. We equip our team with laptops, headsets, a secure tunnel, skype and vnc. We’ve found that the developers work so closely and interchangeably together when in the office, they know each other well enough to overcome many of the disadvantages of short-term separation and cold modes of communication.
It’s typical to have a team member e-mail “I’m not feeling well but I’ll sleep through the morning and try to pair up in the afternoon.”
How closely we work together facilitates the ease with which we can remote. This mitigates how easily colds spread because we work so closely together. A beautiful symmetry in offsetting, unintended consequences.