In light of the current global focus on social distancing, many companies have transitioned to remote work to prioritize the safety of their employees. Many organizations are adapting to this work from home transition for the first time, and helping employees adjust to new remote work routines and practices.

Staying connected to your team is the first step toward making the most of working remotely, whether you've been working remotely for years, or you're working from home for the first time.

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1. Use Online Communication Tools

When shifting to remote work, some tend to fear the loss of community that comes with working feet away from your coworkers. The good news is, you can recreate that same community from home with online communication tools like Slack and Google Hangouts

You'll need to maintain a productive means of work communication. Plus, these tools you can respond to your teammates throughout the day, maintaining that friendly line of communication you had when you would lean over your cubicle to chat in between meetings by sending gifs and emojis to brighten one another's days.

2. Maintain a Regular Meeting Schedule

When adapting to a new lifestyle, maintaining a routine is key. By holding regularly scheduled virtual team meetings you'll not only guarantee remote work productivity but add a necessary layer of structure to your work from home schedule. If daily virtual team meetings aren't a necessity for your team, consider at least one one-on-one video meeting with a coworker per day. The more you communicate with your colleagues when you're apart, the more structured you'll feel.

3. Be Responsive, Be Responsible

Being a good team member doesn't stop just because you're no longer meeting in person. The myth that remote workers spend all day binge-watching their guilty pleasure shows on the couch instead of working in their home office is long since disproved, but the impulse to sink into the couch and click "I am still watching" on Netflix all day long is real.

Be responsive and responsible for your work to reassure your teammates that you're able to maintain your productivity from home. Every time you respond to an email or Slack message quickly, or proactively set up a call with a teammate you're reinforcing your remote team bonds.

There will likely be cases where you need to step away from your desk, whether it be to make a lunch or to take a mental break. Add any break times to your calendar and communicate the times you plan to be away with your teammates. This helps keep everyone on the same page and lets you take a break without worry.

4. Find New Ways to Collaborate

It's important to remember that we are all innately social and emotional beings. Just as the success of your team depends on your productivity and communication skills, it also relies on how well you collaborate and share ideas with one another. The best collaboration is born from interpersonal connections and working remotely shouldn't hinder your team's ability to problem-solve creatively.

By moving your primary means of communication from email to mediums such as Slack for quick chats or Zoom for video team meetings, you're prioritizing collaboration and ultimately filling any communication gap created by your new remote work lifestyle. Many companies have interest-based Slack channels for employees who share common interests, like dog lovers, gamers, parents, binge-watchers (Love is Blind, anyone?), and more. Start a book club or an exercise group. Many companies are now offering live streaming of workout classes and when you log on as a team, you hold each other accountable!

5. Set Up Your Work From Home Technology

For remote teams, access to the right technology and software are the end-all, be-all of how well you stay connected. A computer, consistent WiFi, a phone, and a web camera are work from home essentials. For those who work remotely full-time, more amenities are necessary. Some companies even offer stipends so employees can purchase the equipment they need to work from home effectively.

Work From Home Tools

  • Laptop or PC
  • WiFi/Internet access
  • Web camera for video calls
  • Phone
  • Video conferencing tool
  • Messaging app (e.g., Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype)
  • Public calendar noting working hours
  • VPN/cloud-based file access
  • Remote desktop software (e.g., LogMeIn)
  • Standing desk, desk mat, ergonomic chair
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Coffee maker/snack area
  • Timer for scheduled productive times/breaks

To make the most out of your remote team connection, you'll want the best video conferencing tools at your fingertips. Research shows that video conferencing is 30% better for communication than audio-only setups. The Meeting Owl Pro is a 360° smart video conferencing camera that makes video calls more inclusive for team members who are working from home.

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Now that you're remotely connected to your team, check out how the Owl Labs remote team stays productive from anywhere.