We're social creatures and thrive on interaction with other people. Homeworking can feel isolating and lonely, and clearly all the news and social media noise around Covid-19 is bound to make some of us feel anxious.
So it's important to have a way to keep in touch so that everyone can continue to work together in a dedicated virtual space for social interaction. Tools such as Teams, Slack and Zoom have a number of purposes but often forgotten is the positive impact of seeing faces rather than just hearing voices, and allowing groups of people to meet and still maintain social isolation.
When you remove face to face communication and replace it with technology, there is a danger that the many different channels available to you such as email, instant messaging, calls, and video, can make communication increasingly chaotic. Try to make some choices about how you are going to use the technology:
- What will be the primary method of communication, will it be email, calls, instant messaging or something else?
- When will you meet up? People like structure so set up regular meetings so people know what to expect.
- Keep your routines. If you always have a team lunch on a Friday, don't stop, do it online. It'll keep a sense of normality and bring some fun into work.
- Think about how you run your meetings. Not all being in the same room changes things. Have an agenda, make sure everyone speaks, turn on video so you can see how people are feeling.
- Use the appropriate channel for having a conversation? Use instant messaging or chat (not email), so you don’t clog your inbox with unnecessary information you need to filter.
Many of the available collaboration tools allow you a range of methods to organise your collaborative work. However, what may be plain to you may not be plain to others. Make sure you agree where key documents will be kept.
Edit them within the app so you don’t have to deal with multiple copies of the same thing, and while real-time collaboration on a document is incredibly powerful, don’t forget to update version control for official documents. Create agenda documents for meetings and refer back to them at the next meeting and allow people to post their items into them. Agree what your team structure will be – and remember you might not want everyone to see everything that is posted, so think about security and permissions. Be careful you don’t create too many teams – as finding things might become difficult.
There are a raft of different platforms that you could use to collaborate and all have their strengths and weaknesses. Most now have free versions either because they always have, or because manufacturers have brought in Free Of Charge pricing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be some limitations on the free versions so it's best to check with your IT provider which one is best for your organisation, and is the most complementary to the software you are already using. Try to avoid creating opportunities for IT systems that have not been fully endorsed by your IT provider, once implemented they are quite hard to shift – so it’s best to get the right platform first time.
Need more help?We can offer advice, support and solutions for your coronavirus action plan, so please get in touch today by email at email@example.com or call our Customer Service Team on 0344 770 6000, between 8am and 6pm. We are very happy to help but if you have a contract with another provider you might want to contact them.