May 5, 2020
In it together: The importance of staying connected to your team when working from home
With lockdowns and social distancing measures still in place in many places around the world, we’re all spending more time at home – and away from our friends, family, and colleagues – than ever before. Just a few weeks ago, this involved many of us having to pack up our office desks and set up camp in our bedrooms, spare rooms, or even at our kitchen tables in an attempt to continue with business as usual. Even when things return to some form of normality, it’s likely that for many of us, remote working (in some capacity) will still be the norm for quite some time.
Even though many of us have been working remotely since March, working from home is very different from traveling into an office and seeing your colleagues 5 times a week – and this change can be very difficult to adapt to. Humans are creatures of habit, after all. Many of us enjoy using our daily commutes to listen to music or get a headstart on clearing out our email inboxes. Not only that, but a big part of office life many of us will be missing are the lunch breaks spent chatting to our colleagues, and the ease of walking over to a coworker’s desk when we need their help with something.
There’s no denying that remote working (which has long been one of the most sought-after employee perks) brings many benefits. With remote workers being more easily able to control their working hours and environments, as well as being much more likely to take adequate breaks when needed, they’re often happier and more productive, with a better work-life balance to boot. However, without the right tools and procedures in place, one thing that can easily be lost when businesses work remotely is communication.
We’re all in this together
Communication is the key to success. It’s vital for keeping everyone working together on the same page, avoiding misinterpretations, overlaps, and the resulting confusion. Strong communication helps to ensure that tasks are completed by the right people, at the right time, and to the required standard. We all also know that two heads are better than one. Collaborating with others can give us valuable additional perspectives on a problem we’re faced with, leading to more ideas and creative solutions being generated than if we were to work alone. Fortunately, thanks to constantly evolving technology, this doesn’t have to be lost just because your team is now spread across multiple home offices.
Though ensuring seamless communication will have a positive impact on your productivity and the quality of your work, one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked during this time is the impact the pandemic is having on our mental health. As well as being worried about the virus affecting ourselves and our loved ones, members of your team may be struggling to juggle working from home with caring for their children. They may also be feeling lonely as they’re unable to see their friends and family. According to a recent report by the UK’s Office of National Statistics, 53% of people are worried about the effect the virus is having on their well-being.
We typically spend upwards of 35 hours a week with the people we work with, meaning we often develop great friendships with them. Many of us look forward to discussing the latest show we binged on Netflix at the watercooler each day and will go to our co-workers for advice or a quick boost when we’re feeling low. With this support no longer being just a few desks away, making sure your team stays connected while working remotely is essential for helping to ensure everyone’s mental well-being is being looked after.
So, how can you stay connected with your team during this time?
Swap meetings for video calls
Video conferencing software has seen a massive boom in recent weeks, with Zoom’s daily active users rocketing to more than 200 million from 10 million in March. This is hardly surprising, with video calls providing the closest thing to face-to-face meetings for many of us. Though emails and instant messaging are helpful tools for staying connected, sometimes it’s easier to speak rather than type – and it can help to avoid miscommunication, too. So, make sure you’re scheduling regular calls with your team, even if it’s just to ask them how they’re feeling and what they’ve been up to. Checking in on them every day will ensure that everyone knows what they need to be doing next, and gives them a chance to get an instant response to their questions and concerns.
If you work in a larger company, you will be used to seeing a plethora of different faces each day. This may be in the line for the coffee machine each morning or in the breakout area during your lunch break. With everyone removed from the office setting, it can be easy to lose contact with employees from other departments in your organization – especially if you don’t work on many projects together. Scheduling monthly video calls with your wider business can help to keep that team spirit alive and let everyone know that the rest of the team are still there for them to reach out to when needed. It will also ensure that everyone is kept in the loop of what is going on in the wider business.
Take advantage of digital task management
Work management software can also make the process of working remotely as seamless as possible. This will give you a central place to keep a record of everything your team is working on, so everyone knows what tasks and projects need to be completed next, with nothing getting left to the wayside. In Ayoa, you can easily add projects, delegate tasks to others, and see their progress. You can even add Attachments, Comments, Checklists, and Start and Due Dates. As well as ensuring that everyone can find all the information they need in one place (meaning no more searching through cluttered email inboxes for that vital document), members of your team can quickly and easily ask questions by adding Notes and Comments to a task. This ensures there’s minimal disruption to work, so your deadlines continue to be met while everyone works remotely.
Creativity is also a big part of being productive. Sometimes, you need multiple heads to come together to find those winning ideas that will help you get the ball rolling on a project. Whether it’s choosing the right colors for your new website or finalizing the tagline for your latest marketing campaign, make sure you’re continuing to organize creative thinking sessions with your team so everyone can share their ideas. One great way to do this is by creating a Mind Map in Ayoa, then using this during a video call so everyone can brainstorm together as if they were in the same room!
Be creative with your office socials
Just because bars and restaurants are closed in many places around the world right now, it doesn’t mean that socializing with your team after a long day of work is also out of the question! Video conferencing software doesn’t have to be reserved for formal meetings and one-to-one catch-ups; you can also use it to arrange virtual pub quizzes and casual drinks with your team, or even task everyone with following a recipe together. Not only is this a fun distraction that many of us need right now (there’s only so much decluttering you can do!), but it also reminds everyone that we’re a part of a team and that they’re not alone.
In a similar vein, you should also be encouraging your team to chat regularly throughout the week – whether this is through text, instant messaging, or phone and video calls. It’s common to have a quick chat with your workmates when your concentration levels start to wane throughout the day, so why wouldn’t you do the same when working at home? Take advantage of instant messaging (such as Ayoa Chat) and create a group chat for everyone to discuss whatever takes their fancy throughout the day – whether this is to brag about the great sandwich they made themselves for lunch, share an uplifting news article, or ask for recommendations for the latest book to read at the weekend.
Are you looking for the perfect tool to help you stay connected with your team and work seamlessly together from your homes? Ayoa combines intuitive Mind Mapping, Task Management, and Instant Messaging features so everyone can virtually brainstorm together, track work progress and mimic those watercooler chats we’re all missing. Try it for free today!