Scrum Agile Project Management

Distributed Retrospectives: A Guide to Remote Team Reflection

Retrospectives are a crucial part of agile software development. They provide the basis for self-improvement in Scrum teams. This article explores the benefits and challenges of distributed retrospectives and provide tips for conducting effective remote team reflection.

Author: Edo Williams, RetroTeam,

Retrospectives are a crucial part of agile development. They provide teams with the opportunity to reflect on their work, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary changes to their processes. However, with the rise of remote work, distributed retrospectives have become more common. In this guide, we will explore the benefits and challenges of distributed retrospectives and provide tips for conducting effective remote team reflection.

Distributed Retrospectives: Guide to Remote Team Reflection

Benefits of Distributed Retrospectives

Distributed retrospectives offer several benefits over traditional in-person retrospectives. First, they allow teams to work together regardless of location. This is particularly beneficial for teams with members in different time zones or countries. Second, they can be more efficient since they eliminate the need for travel time and expenses. Finally, they can be more inclusive since they allow team members who may not be able to attend in-person meetings to participate.

Challenges of Distributed Retrospectives

While distributed retrospectives offer many benefits, they also present some challenges. One of the biggest challenges is communication. Remote teams may struggle to communicate effectively, particularly if they are using different tools or platforms. Additionally, remote teams may struggle to build trust and rapport, which can make it difficult to have open and honest discussions.

Tips for Conducting Effective Distributed Retrospectives

Despite the challenges, there are several tips that can help teams conduct effective distributed retrospectives. First, it is important to establish clear communication protocols. This includes using the same tools or platforms for communication, setting expectations for response times, and establishing guidelines for how feedback will be provided.

Second, it is important to build trust and rapport among team members. This can be done through team building activities, regular check-ins, and creating opportunities for informal conversations.

Third, it is important to establish a clear agenda for the retrospective. This includes setting goals for the meeting, identifying topics for discussion, and assigning roles and responsibilities to team members.

Finally, it is important to follow up on action items and ensure that changes are implemented. This can be done through regular check-ins and progress reports.

Tools for Conducting Distributed Retrospectives

There are several tools available that can help teams conduct effective distributed retrospectives. These include video conferencing tools like Zoom, collaboration tools like Trello or Asana, and feedback tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.

It is important to choose tools that are easy to use, accessible to all team members, and facilitate effective communication and collaboration.


Distributed retrospectives are a valuable tool for remote teams. They offer several benefits over traditional in-person retrospectives, including increased efficiency, inclusivity, and flexibility. However, they also present some challenges, particularly around communication and trust building. By following the tips outlined and using the right tools, teams can conduct effective distributed retrospectives and continue to improve their processes and outcomes.

Use these online tools to Share

Retrospectives generate a lot of information. Capturing it and ensuring that everyone can see it is easy when all participants are physically present. When participants are facing different ways or are in different locations makes this trickier. There are different mechanisms to share the information as it’s happening.

Some of these include:

  • Real-time document-collaboration tools, such as Google Docs where multiple people can edit the same document in real-time and see various contributions. This is great as you can see people capturing information in real-time. Names and highlighting can help too if you need to run Dot Voting,
  • Mindmeister is a real-time tool for collaboration. Consider using branches to group stickies into groups or to represent the different arms of ‘Went Well’, ‘Less Well’ and ‘Puzzles’.
  • Shared online boards, such as Lino itedistorm,, and Padlet.
  • IdeaBoardzRetroTeam, and Parabol are online tools specifically for distributed retrospectives.
  • Instant Messaging Tools are useful for capturing input in a single location.

About the Author

Edo Williams is the creator of RetroTeam – a platform that aims to help teams using Agile project management conduct a vital part of their working method, the retrospective, whether they’re in the same building, or distributed across the globe. RetroTeam’s primary objective is to make remote Agile meetings more productive and collaborative. It does this through a pared-down interface that makes setting up a retro board and running the retrospective quick and simple.