Community building

Teamwork makes the dream work: How to stay collaborative while working from home

Working from home has many benefits, but it’s also thrown up new challenges when it comes to collaborating with teammates. When your colleagues are sitting right next to you, it’s easy to stay on top of various projects, but when everyone’s at home, communication often faulters – certain tasks may get left by the wayside while others are done twice by two different people.

To help overcome these challenges, we’ve put together a list of the best ways to stay collaborative while working from home.

1. Check in every day

Maintaining a daily stand-up will help to make sure everyone’s on the same page, as well as giving some structure to the day and providing an important dose of human contact. It’s also a great way of keeping people accountable and enables the re-division of work if some teammates are swamped and others have little on their plate.

2. Turn your cameras on

When working from home, it’s tempting to spend the whole day in pajamas, and, therefore, do anything to avoid turning on your webcam. However, not being able to see your teammates’ faces means you can miss subtle communication cues and signals that build connection and understanding, facilitating collaboration. Having someone to look at can also make video calls more engaging, boosting focus and participation.

3. Make communication easy

One thing that’s lost when your team is working from home is the seamless communication that can happen in an office – no more dropping by someone’s desk or calling across the room if you have a quick question. So, using a simple, straightforward communication tool like a chat or messenger app can help your remote team regain that instant communication while sidestepping the formality of emails.

4. Set up file sharing

Having a shared drive that colleagues can access online is a key tool for remote collaboration. Your colleagues will be able to upload, update, and edit working docs wherever they are, and project managers will have a clearer overview of the status of deliverables. Plus, online file sharing reduces the risk of documents getting lost amid an avalanche of emails.

5. Use project management tools

Project management apps such as Trello and Asana are fantastic tools for staying collaborative when working from home. They keep everyone on the same page by giving a visual representation of a project’s progress and allow project managers to assign tasks and follow up with different team members.

6. Work on your personal communication skills

It’s tempting to look to technology to solve all the barriers to collaboration that come with remote working, but the real answers might be closer to home. It may be necessary to re-think the way that you communicate in order to adapt to a remote environment. With teams physically distant and many non-verbal communication cues lost, perhaps you need to be clearer and explain your ideas more thoroughly than usual. This may take a little more time but it’s worth it to avoid your team working at cross-purposes.

7. Build in social time

The biggest casualty of remote working is the social time you share with your team throughout the day – gone are the casual watercooler chats, grabbing a coffee together, or afterwork drinks. It may feel like more effort than usual but rekindling that social time will help your team feel more connected. We suggest having virtual coffee breaks or afterwork drinks with a few colleagues, or even organizing a virtual pizza night or trivia party with your entire team.

Working from home has many upsides – skipping the commute for one – but it can also put obstacles in the way of effective collaboration. We hope that these simple tips will help your team stay collaborative while working from home.

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