Whether you work from home permanently or your office occasionally lets you work from your own place, working from home can present its own set of challenges. Then again, so does working in a traditional office! Either way, no matter where you’re working, most work you do will be as part of a team so effective teamwork is essential.
We’re here to share our favourite tips and tricks for making teamwork more efficient when working from home. (And as a bonus, this is written by someone who really has worked from home for years!)
7 Tips for Effective Teamwork
With so many new tech tools to help us communicate effectively, it’s easier than ever to keep your team on the same page, no matter where they might be in the world. Lots of our favourite ones are easily taken from an office to your home, making them ideal for situations where some team members are remote and others are in-office.
But it’s not just about apps and websites – we’ve also got our tried-and-true tips for keeping things running smoothly.
Use Slack to stay connected
We’re big fans of Slack, a chat-type app designed strictly for work conversations. It stops email chains from building up and keeps communication flowing. We love using it for quick questions or just sending silly gifs. Slack can also be a great way for you to show your in-office team that you’re available, even if you aren’t physically in the same place – just show that you’re online.
Plus, because there are different channels for different topics, you can use channels like ‘General’ to get an idea of what’s going on overall in the office, or ‘Non-Work’ channels to get a little bit of the feeling of the informal conversations that happen in an office.
Even if you’re not immediately available to work on a certain client’s projects, it’s always good to be able to respond to emails, phone calls and messages in a timely fashion – especially when you’re working from home. When your team can’t see you in a physical office space, there might be some people who aren’t convinced you’re actually working instead of watching TV on the sofa in your pyjamas. (As anybody who’s worked from home knows, you might be in your pyjamas but you’re definitely working!).
One easy way to get around that and clearly demonstrate that your team can trust you is to respond quickly if they reach out to you. It definitely makes a difference!
See if you can hang out with your team in person occasionally
Even though lots of the work we do today can be done online from anywhere in the world, there’s still something about seeing people face-to-face that makes a difference. If you’re working remotely, you might not get to know the people you’re working with very well. So, if an invite comes up to see them in person, take them up on it! This goes triple for social events, like after-work beers or team-building activities. After all, it’s always easier to work when you’re comfortable and familiar with your colleagues.
Be clear about what’s happening work-wise
Checking in with your colleagues is an essential part of effective teamwork, whether you’re physically together or not. There are lots of different ways you can create an online status update. That ranges from anything from regular emails to Excel with deadlines and project names to even a project management tool like Asana. Figure out a way that helps you manage your projects and deadlines. It’s also a good idea to keep track of who’s working on which bit of the project.
You can also use that time-honoured tradition of a pen-and-paper to-do list to keep you on track, although mine has a habit of going missing!
Onboard team members working from home, too
Onboarding new team members effectively can make a real difference when you make a new hire. There’s no reason that should be any different for people working from home. Actually, it can be even more important. If you’re working from home, it’s essential to be able to quickly jump into a company’s culture and start showing why they chose you. That’s why it’s good to be able to access materials, like videos or training manuals, that let you learn more about the company and the roles within it. If you’re working from home and don’t have access to these types of materials, ask and see if there are any that your team can send you.
Find a way to make important files accessible for everyone
Often times, you’ll be working on a project that has pieces lots of different team members will need to access. Instead of endless email chains to pass files back and forth, look at ways you can upload your materials to the cloud or an online storage site.
There are lots of options for tools that help you do this. Most have a free version that lets you use it up to a certain limit, so try a few out until you find one you like. We like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Basecamp to help get you started – but they are by no means the only options. As long as everyone can access the files they need to do their job effectively, it doesn’t really matter which one you pick.
Be mindful of work hours
Working from home can sometimes mean working unconventional hours. It can also mean that teams contact their remote members at any time of the day. Just as you would in a regular office, it’s helpful to try to be online at regular working hours (whatever those may be for your team). It’s also a good idea not to contact people outside of these hours. Nobody likes getting work-related emails or texts on a Sunday afternoon – even those working from home!
When you work from home, it can be really easy to have your work life and personal life start to blend together. One way to help keep those boundaries in place – and ensure that there is effective teamwork – is to stick to some consistent working hours. That way, they know they can count on you when they’re in the office, and you can keep your work and home life a little more separate.
This can get more complicated when your team is spread across different time zones. One helpful tool for planning meetings across the world is this world clock site.
That brings us to the end of our list of tips and tricks for effective teamwork when working from home. We hope you’re feeling ready to take on the world with your team!
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