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The Agile Way: Easing Back Into Work After An Extended Leave

Coming back to work after an extended period of time can be an overwhelming and daunting experience. While getting back into the rhythm may feel like a piece of cake for some, it is not always the case for all.

Looking at the way some people at Tempo (also known as 'Templings') danced their way back into their roles and were instantly back on top of everything, we wondered if going agile plays a role in facilitating the reintegration process.

Instead of pondering upon that question, we decided to find out more about it from Templings who were on an extended leave before resuming their full-time role at Tempo. 

Marta Káradóttir

Marta K

[callout="user"]Marta is from the tropical Faroe Islands and completed a B.A. (Hons) in International Business with Spanish and a Major in Marketing at EBS, London. After studying in Spain and Peru, she returned to the icy North to work in diplomacy at the Faroese Embassy. Now Marta holds an M.Sc. in International Business from Reykjavík University, while secretly working in fashion and all things design at the Iceland Design Centre and Nordic Style Magazine. Combining her love of innovation and creativity, she became a full-time member of the genius Marketing team at Tempo, conducting “James Bond” like market research and analysis.[/callout]

How does it feel to ease back into work after an extended leave?

Well, at first you feel like you have been living inside a lovely little isolated baby cave, then all of a sudden you are back at work full force with a lot on the agenda. I felt as if I needed to get my head back in the game, focus and get updated on all developments within Tempo, which in software terms means a lot.

However, I have an amazing team who supports and collaborates with one another, so I was able to ease back into my role steadily in my own pace. The only challenge was prioritizing all the tasks I had waiting ahead.    

What was the hardest thing about coming back to work?

I would say by far having to re-organize and prioritize my tasks. I experienced that the company had grown so fast all of a sudden - meaning the staff, responsibilities & opportunities had also grown alongside it. Thus, I was faced with several new tasks which are both challenging and exciting.

I was able to learn more quickly, step into new territory and evolve as an individual. All of which might seem very daunting coming out of maternity leave, but I think this simultaneously allowed me to ease back into work more effectively.  

Now that you have extra commitments, did going agile help create your own workflow in order to meet your deadlines without compromising work-life balance?

The agile approach has helped me adapt to the constant fluctuation of the work-life environment, to respond more effectively to the unpredictability that I am faced with every day. Through a more hands-on and flexible thinking, I just take things day by day and try to find the most appropriate solutions in relation to different circumstances.

This has really been beneficial for me as a working mother in the software industry. The whole “inspect-and-adapt” approach is very effective when you are trying to grow professionally while minimizing mistakes or risks and overcoming really challenging projects ahead.

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

I noticed that, post-leave, I had more responsibilities - projects involving a greater scope of stakeholders with potential for product development and growth. This meant that I had to think more on my feet, act quickly, find solutions, and make effective decisions in relation to my involvement in the various projects.

Being a very results/action minded person, I found that the agile approach really suited me and my role at Tempo, even though I am in the Marketing Department. Coming back from maternity leave truly enforced my assumption that agile can be suited for any role, department or industry.

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

It did take some time to get back into things and to get a workflow that suited me and my circumstances. But the thing about going agile is that the benefits follow quickly once you have adopted the approach. As soon I found my agile rhythm, I automatically knew which tasks to focus on, how to do it, and how to involve my team in the process.

Do you think going agile is for everyone? Why?

Clearly there are many effective ways to work in today’s digital age - lean, continuous delivery, agile or scrum. I certainly think that in the pace we are currently moving at, the way we are advancing technologically and simultaneously becoming more transparent and connected on a global scale, it is not only beneficial but also vital to go agile.

The only important reason to justify this is that while we become continuously more connected, we are also more open and vulnerable to changes, fluctuations or trends all over the world.

Therefore, no matter which industry you work in, being aware and ready to adapt in this fast pace environment will always be relevant and important.   

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