In a world that’s rapidly embracing remote work, we at Simply Kaizen have been working in remote teams since we started in 2019, and are always on the lookout for innovative ways to foster a sense of community and maintain productivity within our entirely remote-based team.
All bar one of our team is based in Brisbane, Australia, however, we do not have a shared office. We occasionally meet in co-working spaces to collaborate and get together a couple of times a year, but months can go by without seeing each other face to face.
This can present a challenge when working to build a high-performance team. One of the strategies we’ve found to be particularly effective and wanted to share is our use of virtual co-working spaces.
Virtual co-working space
Think of a virtual co-working space as a digital equivalent of a physical co-working environment. It’s designed to provide a sense of camaraderie and a productive atmosphere but without the risk of turning into a forum for idle chatter.
We started by using a dedicated Zoom link to effectively create a room that team members can come and go from, though we’ve since transitioned to Teams.
Just as you would in a physical office, it’s important to maintain a sense of professional courtesy in these virtual spaces. A bit of friendly conversation at the beginning of the day can help to build relationships, but once everyone has settled down to work, interruptions are kept to a minimum. This approach helps to recreate the sense of a shared physical space, where you can see your colleagues working around you, even if you’re not directly interacting with them. If two colleagues need to talk, they can make a phone call outside of Zoom/Teams itself without disrupting anyone else and still see each other.
To help create an ambient environment, we often have a team member share some background music over our video conferencing tool. Those who prefer to listen to their own music can simply mute the shared audio. This technique helps to foster a sense of shared space and companionship, even as we’re each working on our own tasks.
Communication in these spaces doesn’t need to be overly regulated. The chat function can be used for simple greetings and farewells, allowing for a level of engagement that doesn’t disrupt focus.
For those looking to emulate productivity techniques like Focusmate, whilst it’s not something we do currently, we’re looking at implementing some guidance built around the Pomodoro Technique. By setting specific intervals for focused work and short breaks for conversation, we’d look to balance productivity and social interaction.
However, we recognise that this approach isn’t for everyone. It’s almost always optional, and team members are free to choose the working environment that best suits their needs. We believe in the importance of flexibility and personal choice in maintaining a productive and happy team.
In conclusion, while the art of creating and maintaining a successful virtual co-working space lies in striking a balance between community and productivity, it’s also about recognising and respecting individual preferences. At Simply Kaizen, we’re finding that with the right approach, these virtual spaces can become an invaluable asset for our remote team.