I had the honour of doing my first ever distributed work. So far, I had managed to avoid it. That was mainly by accident, or luck, depending on how you look at it. My first experience with distributed working was a deep dive, because instead of a simple meeting I had to give a workshop on Exploratory Testing. Most of the participants were in another country, somewhere at the other side of Europe, while I was in Amsterdam with 2 other people present.
Did it work?
First off, it took me awhile to get comfortable. I’m very much used to making eye contact with people to check if they’re still listening or falling asleep (heh) so I can adjust my approach. That was not really possible. We did have an Eyecatcher in the room, but because I also had to share my presentation there was no room to also keep the people on the other side in screen. It felt like I was talking to no one in particular sometimes.
The people on the other side were also more silent. Maybe it’s because they’re not loud people by nature, I didn’t know them that well. I really had to probe them to speak up though, so that was something to take note off.
The hardest part was doing the exercises. I’m so used to being able to see what the participant is doing and giving them tips and I was pretty much blind now. Yes, I’m aware that there is technology to share screens and even control of the screen, but for now the participants were working individually on their exercises. It would take too much time for me to individually set up a connection with them to help them out one by one. One on one coaching on Skype seems better suited for testing sessions, maybe.
Other exercises were faring better. I also had them make a Product Coverage Outline of their own product, and one by one they shared an example after completing the exercise. Because everyone had a turn, I had the feeling that the overall the purpose of the PCO and how you can use it became clear.
Because the testing wasn’t really going well, I’m going to do a distributed mob test session with them next time. That will give me more insight in how they test.
Overall, I still had fun giving this workshop. The best part of it was that the scrum master was also present and she told me that I completely changed her view on testing and what testers do. That to me is worth a lot and gives me faith in my mission: change how people view testing and testers!