Collaborating and working remotely with people has been my normal for quite a long time now, and I’ve developed skills to make sure it’s successful. Given that working from home might be everyone else’s new normal for quite a while, here’s some thought and tips on working together, even when you’re apart.

Communication

When you work in the same office as the rest of the team, quick catch-ups are taken for granted, so having regular, scheduled communication is key to making remote working successful. Put these meetings in the diary with information on the mode (Teams, Zoom, Skype, old fashioned ‘phone etc), and make sure they happen. Issue an agenda and be clear about what needs to be achieved in the time. I find that videoconferencing works well and makes meetings focused.

Having a plan

Having a plan and communicating it clearly to the team keeps everyone accountable and on track with what needs to be achieved. Be clear about who is doing what and review the plan during your regular meetings.

Use technology to the max

The technology we have at our disposal is making this situation so much more workable – things really would have ground to a halt without phones, the internet and videoconferencing. Be grateful for it and maximise it. There have been loads of solutions mentioned over the past week, so I won’t go in to them here, but develop your skills and use them to work in new ways. I also have WhatsApp on my laptop and encourage people to message me there if it’s urgent – that way I’m not checking my phone or needing to go into my inbox multiple times a day.

Sharing documents

Document sharing and version control is one of the biggest challenges of working remotely (in my opinion). I’d recommend either using proper sharing technology, or numbering your documents sequentially. There’s nothing worse than editing the wrong version of a document! Agree where the documents will be saved and how you will communicate with the team when you’ve finished with them.

Maintain a semblance of office hours

There’s a rumour that freelancers work whenever they like, and perhaps some do, but I have always maintained office hours, so that I’m synced with clients. I start work early, generally have a long lunch and be contacted until around 6pm. Work out a structure that works for you and communicate this with your team. Make sure everyone knows how to contact team members. 

What have you learnt so far? 

These are some general points I’ve thought of, but I wonder if any of the working from home newbies have discovered anything else over this past couple of weeks? I’d love to hear about them – what’s keeping you productive and focused as a team at the moment?