More than a year ago, we were all commuting to and from the office. We are interacting with our co-workers—chitchatting with them. Play catch up. Shared some pleasantry and even shared delivered pizzas one way or the other.
Then, all of a sudden, we are hunkered down in our houses, forbidden to leave unless deemed essential. Otherwise, stay home and wait for the next instruction from health officials or patiently wait for the lifting of the stringent restriction.
This event has almost happened overnight.
After a couple of months, this resulted in having no people in the street, and wildlife reclaimed it.
Another fascinating event happened: there is a dramatic decrease in air pollution due to the absence of vehicular traffic and reduced activity from the manufacturing sector.
That is the silver lining with what the coronavirus pandemic has done environmental-wise.
With these unexpected benefits and the current work setup that we are having working from home, it is sure to persist even after the pandemic.
It is only logical to think of ways to make the current work from home setup more comfortable and pleasant for many more years to come.
Better yet, work from home will be an option that will be on the table for other employees.
Having said that, here is how to boost team collaboration while working from home:
1. Maintain two channels of communication
Have an official channel for serious work and have another for goofing off. Think of it as a heavy load countered by the light laissez-faire attitude by the other channel.
Just to keep both separate, and if there is any misplacement of communication, reply accordingly, give a silly reply on the goofy channel and be cordial on the other to maintain a business-as-usual setup. To avoid any confusion, activate the filter all the time on your silly channel.
Think of it as the yin and yang the office version. The serious side gets the job done, while the lighthearted side gets everybody going.
2. Have remote team collaboration tools
This is the part that deserved some emphasis. Look for a reliable platform that is easy to use or everybody is familiar with, like Microsoft Suites. Everybody is using this, why not even utilise it even further. Use Microsoft meetings for online collaboration.
Anything from Microsoft Suites will be the documents you will share with your officemates and clients anyway, so why not stick with the tried and tested tools?
3. Real-time collaboration
Set up a document where everybody involved will see everything at a single glance. Say have it in MS PowerPoint, that contains all the scheduled activities on a weekly basis on one slide followed by other slides containing the activities for that particular week.
Use the channel to give and receive instructions and lay down the results on the slides.
This way, a task delegated to several people can be done independently by employees working from home setup. A single document can bring all their collaborative effort together in one shot. Think of it as an assembly line online and on steroids.
4. Take advantage of existing tools
Since you already use Microsoft Suites, why not take full advantage of what it can offer? To be precise: use Microsoft Teams Analytics. All it takes is to activate it in the admin centre and use it.
Get data on how individuals communicate with other individuals; group chat and even know what devices they are using.
Moreover, Microsoft Teams Analytics can help you have a snapshot of your business. It can give you a descriptive analysis of your business in its current status; provides predictive analysis of what may come up in the next season based on past data; and even offers prescriptive analysis, to give your business suggestions on what the next step you can do depending on the current situation and trend.
5. Exercise uniformity
Here is something against the grain of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) school of thought. Companies have long practised uniformity in the issuance of office equipment to their employees. Indeed, BYOD has gained some steam even before the coronavirus pandemic, but it is not a reason it should not practice the tried and tested methods of the past.
Uniformity inside the company is always a good sign of prosperity. Think of a team within a company as a small military unit with the same uniform and weaponry. If individuality comes into the mix, this very same military unit will be viewed as a rag-tag armed group of individuals instead.
A standard uniform, equipment and tactics invoke a sense of pride, too, amongst uniformed personnel.
6. Have a scheduled company-wide activity
Even with the coronavirus casting a dark cloud in all the corner of the world, there is no reason why there should be no company-wide activity. Of course, this still has some caveats: the activities will be done online.
To have a fun and spirited activity, have some prizes ready to keep everyone on their toes and willing to take part.
In essence, there is an underlying theme here and is there is always to ways to tackle things and keep everything basic.
Like what Sun Tzu said in “The Art of War”: “The direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”
This all boils down into two key factors:
1. Ensure that the company has the proper resources for its workers to perform their job well.
2. Employees’ morale should always be high.