You’re working from home. At least for a month or so. You’re on the sofa and you’ve got Ozark on the telly (because you never got around to watching it when everyone else did). You let your partner have the desk, and the kids are in the bedroom “working”. You feel like you’ve got it all figured out. Only… you’re Project Manager for a team of ten and you’re sat there wondering if they’re doing exactly the same as you.
Team engagement, especially if you’re in charge or your work is collaborative, is absolutely essential when you aren’t able to just roll your chair down a few desks to get an update. Maintaining communication can also drastically boost morale - which can drop for those feeling a little more isolated during their time out of office. Here we’re outlining a few of the ways that you can keep team spirits up and help your colleagues stay on top of their work, as well as sharing some insights into what Aquent is doing.
1. Team Rules
Work with your colleagues to create a dynamic set of rules to live by whilst you’re all getting the job done at home. Find out from your team what they want more of (e.g. group catch-ups) and what they want less of (e.g. Out to Lunch emails). You’ll find some would rather work earlier in the day so that they can spend time with their families, and others prefer working into the evening. If you can, find common ground between the majority so that relevant team members are reasonably available throughout the day.
Most will probably already be aware of what is expected of them, but it can be useful just to reiterate where standards or efficiency might be slipping. Understandably there may be some getting to grips with this virtual workspace if it is unfamiliar, but clear communication prevents people from falling into bad habits.
2. Video Calling
This one is a no-brainer. But not just for the reasons that you might think. Firstly, it’s an easy way to communicate either in a group or on an individual basis. It’s more intimate than a quick message, and it gives you a chance to check on who actually got out of bed to work! Many of us here in the Aquent London office are checking in with our colleagues on a daily basis.
Secondly, it can almost feel like you’re back at the office, and that feeling of community is important in a team. It draws in those who are more prone to get pushed to the sidelines, and in doing so raises spirits. Encourage team members to reach out and video call the people they would have spoken to and seen in the office. As much as video calling is about keeping tabs on work, it’s also about maintaining a connection and preventing isolation.
3. Company Culture
In essence this is just a buzz word for how exciting or happy your workplace is. When your workplace is other people’s homes spread across a city/country/continent, what happens to the culture? If it’s genuine, it’s still alive and well - all it needs is for people to come together. Makes sense when you think about it… that spirit comes into the office in the morning with the people who first arrive, and it leaves with the last person that clocks out.
With that in mind, don’t neglect the culture. Find ways to bring people together. We’re scheduling weekly virtual lunches, digital drinks on a Friday, a collaborative compilation of all our favourite TV series, films and music, email threads of holiday inspiration and our pets, and we’re constantly coming up with more. This isn’t the sort of thing that falls solely on the shoulders of a Manager - it should be something that the team is happy to come up with and contribute to!
So… if you’re working alongside anybody else, consider what you could be doing to connect and engage with them. If you’re on a project alongside them, keep that channel of communication open - you’ll both work better if you’re working together. If you’re managing a team, get on a video call, discuss what’s working for everybody, and remember that you bring the culture. Keeping people connected whilst they’re working from home will be key to your team’s success.