The 4PM stand-up

I’m not a morning person. I never have been and I doubt it’ll suddenly become one of my defining characteristics. In light of this I’ve always had a dislike of the daily stand-up happening first thing in the morning, instead over the years I’ve become to much prefer having it at about 4PM.

A late afternoon stand-up isn’t a common thing. Some people absolutely hate the idea and with no scientific studies to back me up I’m essentially just stating an opinion but I do have a few reasons.

People are sometimes late in the mornings. Having the stand-up at the very start of the day means that anyone having issues getting to work, dropping the kids off at school or dealing with tube delays for example, will probably miss it. When things are slightly off having the added pressure of your team all standing there with trello up as you stumble in, soaked and stressed, doesn’t exactly give the best of openings for the day.

My second main point is the lack of situational awareness. A lot of my day will change based on the rest of the departments. To understand what impact that will have it’s helpful to have some time for other people to start disseminating information. Did we have a small on-call issue last night? Is anyone off sick on my team or the ones they deal with? Is there a security alert for Nginx?

By having my stand-ups at a much later point, such as 4PM, all the urgent issues have normally been raised at the start of the day, and hopefully dealt with. People know about unusual circumstances and who’s not in. At the stand-up itself people are less aspirational and actually get to talk about what they’ve done, not what they intended to, and I’ve still got some time to try and get anything blocked sorted before the next day. Later sessions can also work better if you’re dealing with Americans. It’s not too early to have to deal with them, and the time zones sync up more. But then you can rightly say, “They are having their stand-ups first thing in the morning!” and you’d be right, but they have bear claws available (thanks ckolos!), so it all balances out in the end.

There are downsides to a later time. Team wide issues might lay hidden for longer in the morning. People might leave early to pick the kids up and some people will find the later slot more disruptive to their afternoon flow. It’s not going to be for everyone but if a morning slot isn’t working for the team then maybe it’s time to shake things up a little and try a later time. Maybe 4PM.