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The Agile Way: Communication is Key

Whether it’s an eight-month leave or a month-long Summer vacation, returning to work after an extended period of absence can be stressful.

Last week, we spoke to Marta Káradóttir from Tempo’s Marketing team to share her experience on returning to work after an extended leave. This week, we caught up with another Templing*, Hlynur Johnsen, on his experience of juggling between partial paternity leave and work.

While going agile facilitates a speedy reintegration process, it still boils down to the key element of every successful team - Communication.

*Templing = a person who works at Tempo

Hlynur Johnsen


[callout="tip"]Hlynur is one of the Product Owners for Tempo Timesheets and joined Tempo in 2015. He graduated with an M.Sc. in Computer Games Programming from University of Westminster in 2005 and has worked as a programmer for the mobile games studio Ideaworks3D (now Marmalade) in London. He was involved with creating mobile versions of known titles, such as The Sims, Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasy. He also worked for Betware (Now Novomatic Lottery Solutions) for six years, first as programmer and then as a product owner. Hlynur has been using JIRA for the past seven years and is therefore a huge JIRA fan. In his spare time, he loves having a pint with friends (he also brews his own), catching fish with flies, cooking, and baking bread.[/callout]

How easy/difficult did you find it to ease back into work after an extended leave?

It was relatively easy for me as I was on 50% paternity leave. I would be at work for half the week during the first two months before going on a full paternity leave during the entire July. It was slightly difficult to return to work, but it was similar to coming back from a long vacation.

Did you find it difficult to juggle paternity leave and work?

I did spend a little time working while I was on paternity leave, even though I tried not to. That’s the downside of being on a 50-50 paternity leave - you’re still following everything at work. It’s always easier to follow up or answer emails on the day itself rather than having them pile up. As I wasn’t at work everyday, I would sometimes work outside of working hours.

How has your work life changed since having a young child?

Work life has been more stressful than usual during the time when I was in the office, since I was only coming in half the time that I normally would. There was pressure to complete the tasks that I needed to finish by the end of the day, even though the projects remained the same.

With a preference to a shorter timescale with project delivery, did you find it easy to get back into the workflow and still be on top of everything?

Yes, it was. But, it was also due to the fact that we had two Product Owners on the team, which allowed us to share the responsibilities. Kristin, the other product owner, caught a lot of things on the fly for me, which made things easier. It would have been more difficult if I were the sole product owner. But I’m sure someone else would have taken part of my responsibilities.

Since going agile also means that a lot of changes are happening all the time, did you notice a huge difference in process and operations between now and prior to going on-leave?

I think it’s still easy to catch up on. No doubt, a lot of things have changed after a month. Some were quite unexpected. Being away, however, didn’t make it more difficult to catch up on those changes since there are other things that needed catching up on anyway.

Do you think going agile is for everyone? Why?

Yes, I think so. Agile is for everybody. My view of agile is that the main benefit lies in the communication with the team and other stakeholders. Based on my experience, that’s the most important thing you want to get out of going agile. Because you can do it in such a flexible manner and in so many different ways - Scrum, Kanban, etc. Going agile helps and allows everyone to be fully involved. Therefore, for that reason alone, it could be helpful and useful for everyone.

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