Now, more than ever, people are having to work from home. For some, this is how it has always been, but for others, the merging of our personal spaces and professional lives can take some getting used to. Luckily, we’re here to tell you exactly how to make the most of remote working and collaborating online with your colleagues.
We’ll consider when and how to make time for work and fun, as well as how to set boundaries between the two, and suggest some of the best apps available for online collaboration. More importantly, we’ll also be sharing what we consider to be some of the key points of etiquette for working from home.
The best apps and tools for collaborating with colleagues
Of course, the best apps for us to use will come down to the type of work we’re doing. Testing out different apps and tools is the key to getting it right, so we’re suggesting some tools that can help you work smarter not harder.
Does your work mean creating and sharing lots of documents with other people? Then Google Docs is a great idea. Need to manage a team project and keep everyone on track and organized? We’d recommend Asana to set tasks and plan projects, as it can be used both online and on your phone.
If you’re working with multiple people on various projects, Discord or Slack are great options for creating individual channels where everyone can communicate easily, asking questions, and sharing updates.
Online collaboration tips to get the most out of WFH
Communication is key when working on any group project – even more so when you’re not in the same room. To get the most out of working from home, use chat channels like Slack. They’re a great method of keeping everyone up-to-date, sharing documents, and leaving a trail of messages that people can search back through.
Create an environment where everyone is encouraged to give constructive feedback, be open, and honest. We lose the benefit of non-verbal communication using chat channels, so it’s important everyone feels confident to share their opinions.
If you’re having online meetings, always end them by summarising the key points, making sure all tasks are assigned and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be getting on with. Following this, record signs of success – it’s always good to keep track of what’s working for your team so you can keep a project running smoothly.
WFH etiquette: what’s best practice?
Like anything, working from home comes with its own sets of best practices. The rules of WFH etiquette will depend on the method of remote working you’re using.
If it’s largely email-based, then checking your emails frequently and replying as promptly as you would in the office is key. However, just like in an office, we’re allowed to take breaks, so we shouldn’t expect people to be at our disposal immediately just because they’re at home.
If your work has opted to collaborate via messaging services like Slack, then it’s good to remember that tone changes significantly when we’re communicating through writing rather than chatting face to face. Because of that, rereading messages is an important step when you’re working from home. It’s best to keep it short and sweet and be as clear as possible in any communication sent. Unlike in the office, we can’t have those follow-up conversations for clarity after a miscommunication, so getting it right the first time is crucial.
This is also a good time to consider if the platform you’re using is the best one for your work. When Zoom became the go-to at the start of the pandemic, everyone suddenly had Zoom calls and meetings. Just like offline, sometimes you don’t need a full meeting to get to the heart of the matter, so sometimes collaboration via email or messaging can be more efficient than a video call.
All work and no play
One of the most common problems people have when working from home is finding the time to switch off. If you’re at the office and your ‘To Do’ list isn’t finished, you leave knowing you can pick up from where you left off the next day. Remote working makes switching off harder because it’s all the more tempting to think you could just get that entire list finished off tonight, couldn’t you?
Keeping a schedule isn’t just good for getting work done, but it’s also crucial for knowing when to stop, take a break, and relax. This can be anything from making food to walking the dog or setting aside time for exercise breaks – as long as it helps you establish some time for yourself.
This should also extend to setting boundaries with work colleagues in terms of communication. Switch off notifications and let colleagues know when you’re stepping away for a break, so you’re not disturbed and tempted to jump back into the thick of it too soon.
Getting down to work
It’s easy to let structure go out of the window if you’re new to working from home, but keeping a schedule is key for success. Yes, you could stay in your bed and get your laptop out to work but it’s important to distinguish our work and personal spaces.
The first thing to do is find a place that you can designate as your home “office.” As this is a temporary set up for a lot of people, most of us won’t have an actual home office or even big enough desk space that we can turn into a makeshift one.
Work-from-home veterans will tell you that that’s fine – whether you’re using a kitchen counter, a dining table, or a little foldaway table, all it takes is a peaceful spot you can focus in and you have your workspace.
Once you’ve established where this will be, make sure it’s kept tidy. It sounds simple, but if you keep having to move things around, it’ll make settling into work each day much harder. A tidy space will also mean you’re Zoom-ready at all times, though this can be made even easier using XSplit VCam to blur or even replace your background!
You’ll have an easier time adjusting to our new normal with the right set of tools. The XSplit team is always considering how we can use our live streaming technology to make remote working easier and more efficient, whether you’re using it to connect with your team or thinking about the best way to deliver a presentation remotely.