Some Pairing and Mobbing takeaways
As you could already read in one of our previous posts, we started working in pairs some time ago. Now there's also some Mob Programming being done from time to time, and we started automatically doing some things to make our own lives easier. Some examples:
🛋 📺 Make yourself comfortable
Make sure everyone has a good chair and good visibility of the screen you're working on. If you're pairing, this means that you should work on an external screen of some kind, instead of on a laptop. Make sure there's enough light, not too much noise, and that everyone has drinks and food if they need it.
You can work best if you're not focussing on something else. Taking away small distractions like restlessness or poor visibility of the screen can do wonders!
⌨️💻 Set your machine up for everyone
Make sure the machine you're working on is set up so that you can switch drivers often and so that every driver is working comfortably on it. Of course, it's mostly impossible to all agree on the same set of shortcuts and keyboard setups, but we found a great compromise:
- On macOS you can make the keyboard settings available from the top bar so that you can really quickly switch keyboard layouts
- In PhpStorm or other editors, there are options to export your settings and import other ones. I just created a backup of my settings by exporting them and I ask everyone at the beginning of the session to send me their configs. When they start, they can select their own config from my desktop! After the session I can easily restore my own settings.
- On macOS it's also possible to connect multiple Bluetooth keyboards, mice, etc. We have an AZERTY and a QUERTY keyboard available, as well as a trackpad and a mouse. They are easily passed on and ready to use by the next driver!
These three small changes come a long way to make you feel as if you're working on your own machine!
⛔️📱 Only allow one screen
Being distracted already came up in the previous tip, but here we go again! Ask everyone in the room to put their phones on silent and put them in their pockets. Ask them to close their laptops, they're not going to need them. If you need to look something up, or if you're unsure about what a given piece of code does, ask the driver to put it on the big screen.
This way, nobody dives off into their own cocoon and let their minds escape the group's focus.
🎨◻️ To the drawing board
Try to find a way to make things visible. If you have a whiteboard available, great! Do you have a wall? Use stickies or put up big pieces of paper. As a last resort, there's still just pieces of paper that you can draw on. Just make sure that you can make something visible so that you have something to talk about when a discussion is in order.
😰 ➡ 😁 Keeping everyone engaged
- Switch drivers often
- Take breaks often
We use this simple app to notify us when to switch and when to take breaks. If the app doesn't tell you to take a break but you feel like it anyway, just do it. You'll be more productive after the break.
💻🏡 Remote work and mobbing
- Make sure both parties have a perfect internet connection
- Make sure the setup for audio is working properly. We use a Jabra kit that picks up less ambient noise and makes everything clear to understand
- Use e.g. Slack screen sharing features to your advantage: you can draw on the screen and you can switch drivers easily!
Hope these takeaways can help you as well! Happy Mobbing!