Why Standup Meetings Lead to Burnout

Why Standup Meetings Lead to Burnout

It’s not because the meeting breaks up your day.

The early morning interruption is a real problem just not the biggest problem standup meetings cause. By the Scrum guide’s own admission, a once daily meeting is inadequate to plan your day.

The Daily Scrum is not the only time Developers are allowed to adjust their plan. They often meet throughout the day for more detailed discussions about adapting or re-planning the rest of the Sprint’s work.

Therefore, we either

  • Meet once a day and live with getting stuck on stories and idle time => burnout
  • Meet or message throughout the day urgently trying to get unstuck => burnout

Even if you are willing to meet throughout the day that just sets up more burnout choices:

  • Force everyone into the office some number of days to help with all the meetings
  • Allow remote work but only if everyone is available at all times

Here’s Atlassian on the subject of controlling remote workers to be just as available as in the office:

A distributed scrum team can benefit from a solid communication plan that includes:

  • Remote work agreements
  • A way to contact other team members for informal questions
  • Establish agreements for how meetings should be structured
  • How team members communicate their availability


Yes “remote work agreements” because what burnout problem can’t be solved by lawyers?

Stop fighting fires in real time

Preventing burnout requires not going into a crisis state whenever a story is blocked or requires input.

So you shouldn’t be holding a 15 minute war room at the beginning of each development day. If you want to meet and socialize daily that’s great but that’s not the stated purpose of this meeting:

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.

Of course that’s not going to happen in 15 minutes so the guide encourages other meetings throughout the day. Time boxing to 15 minutes is more of an accounting trick to hide just how much meeting time will be required without the right tool.

Avoiding Burnout

So how do we prevent the continual state of crisis that Scrum meetings cause?

The workflow that prevents burnout is one where a developer can set aside a story and work on a different story while he gets help. Neither Scrum nor Kanban accomodate this flow.

In Scrum you need a meeting to adjust the plan and endless meetings lead to burnout. In Kanban there’s no mechanism for pausing a story and removing it from work in progress limits.

More importantly you need communications channels for approving new pipeline stories and answering questions on paused stories. These channels have to be fully asynchronous so that you can preserve focus.

Avoiding burnout requires a tool that replaces Scrum meetings with these asynchronous communication workflows. We, of course, recommend Uclusion over cobbling together many products that each handle a different meeting.

David Israel
David Israel Co-Founder of Uclusion