There are also open source tools for video calls with remote control, e.g. jitsi. For solutions that work at lower bandwidths, try things like ssh with tmux or the Live Share extension for Visual Studio Code. There’s no clear rule that always works, we recommend you try out what works best for each situation. Some of the factors that play into this are hygiene, how good you are at sharing keyboard time, or how much space you have available. Pairing requires a certain level of scheduling and calendar coordination.
Make sure that everyone has enough time to read their emails by taking enough breaks and reserving some individual time each day. Working remotely with someone you haven’t met and do not know creates an additional challenge. On the one hand, pairing is a chance to get closer to each other on a remote team. On the other hand, it’s sometimes easy to forget that part of the collaboration. If there is no chance that you meet in person, think about other ways to get to know each other a bit better, e.g. try to have a remote coffee together.
Questions are the most powerful tool to understand what you are doing and to come to better solutions. If code is not easy to read and understand for one of you, try a different way that is easier to understand. Don’t shy away from pairing on tasks when you have no idea about the technology involved, or the domain.
If there is no constant anchor for continuity, the risk increases that tacit knowledge about the problem and solution space gets lost and triggers rework. For more junior programi dawnload developers it’s sometimes more beneficial to stay on something for longer, so they have sufficient time to immerse themselves in a topic and give new knowledge time to settle. Another group of reasons why to rotate is to mix things up.
If you don’t take time to acknowledge and accommodate this, it will come back to haunt you later in the day. As to the ideal frequency of rotations, this is where opinions diverge. Some people believe that rotations every 2-3 days are crucial to ensure a sufficient knowledge spread and quality. There’s the time to onboard a new person, and the cost of a context switch for one of the two.
If you work in a setup where not the whole team is distributed and just one or a few of you are remote, try to include the remote partner in all discussions that are happening in the office. We tend to forget how much we share incidentally just by sitting in the same room. For remote pairing, you need a screen-sharing solution that allows you to not only see, but also control the other person’s machine, so that you are able to switch the keyboard. Many video conferencing tools today already support this, so if you’re working at a company who has a license for a commercial VC tool, try that first.
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Either the two of you have been working together for a while and are starting to show signs of "cabin fever" because you are spending too much time together. Or you’re working on something very tedious and energy-draining — a rotation will give one of you a break, and a new person can bring in some fresh perspectives and energy. Rotating pairs means that after working together for some time, one half of the pair leaves the story, while the other person onboards somebody new to continue. The person who stays is often called the "anchor" of a story. Get back together after a previously agreed upon timebox and discuss and share what you have found.
If you keep working in the area that you feel most comfortable in, you will miss out on learning new things, and ultimately spreading knowledge in your team. When you pair, avoid to read emails or to use your phone. These distractions might come across as direspectful to your pair, and they distract you from the task you are working on. If you really need to check something, make it transparent what you are doing, and why.