1. Communicate more than usual
You can just shout something in the office: "Remember to let the customer know!" A friendly reminder, a strict warning? The look reveals what the colleague means. This no longer works in the home office. That is why good communication is the most important thing when teams work remotely, i.e. spatially separated: they have to be in close contact with their colleagues. For this purpose, companies use communication tools such as Slack, a chat program with video function for telephone calls, providers such as Starleaf or Zoom enable larger video conferences from the home office. To keep the team together, it makes sense to see yourself in the group once a day or once a week at a fixed time and to discuss the state of the work.
Managers should also occasionally meet with each of their team members for a video call and discuss how it works. This way you can find out who is struggling with your home office and who needs support. When in doubt: Communicate too much rather than too little. If something is unclear, give your colleague a quick call to quickly clear up any misunderstandings. Teams should also clarify a few questions: How quickly do you have to respond to a message? Is it okay to do the laundry at noon or go around the block in the afternoon, as long as you do the job and sit down at your desk again in the evening? And how do you make yourself felt in a video conference with 20 colleagues? A few more home office regulations help to work better together.
2. Be transparent
Naturally, there is maximum transparency in the open-plan office. You can see that when the colleague has gone out to lunch. When he is on the phone you can hear that.
But when everyone is sitting at home in front of their own laptop (or not), it is not so clear what their colleagues are actually doing. All team members should check in in the morning, so briefly tell the group: I'm there. Those who take a break should let them know and then report back. In the evening a checkout helps, the message: I'm out for today. In the Slack chat program, for example, you can use emoji to easily tell what you're busy with or whether you want to be reachable. A red cross can mean: Do not disturb. The spaghetti plate: I'm just having lunch. A telephone: in conversation. These little signs of transparency are a good way to remove misunderstandings and distrust.
3. Help yourself
Where did we immediately put this Excel table? How do I register for the VPN client? In the office, you briefly ask your neighbor and you can continue working. This is not possible in the home office. There is no one. So independence is required. Some technical problems can be googled and do not have to start a help call on Slack. Answers to in-house questions can usually be found in manuals that every office should have.
"We got used to documenting everything extremely well," says Katharina Borchert, who, as Chief Open Innovation Officer at Mozilla, leads a team that works across the world. Thorough documentation is the most important pillar of work from anywhere. This is the only way employees can keep track of which decisions were made where and when, even across different time zones. And only if all the information is written down somewhere can you help yourself even if your colleagues at the other end of the world may already be asleep.
4. Meet your colleagues
People who always work from home feel slightly isolated. This is one of the most common criticisms of working without a shared office. And it's true, studies show that homeworkers are more likely to suffer from loneliness and exhaustion. "Social contacts are an important resource for dealing with work demands," says director of occupational medicine Monika Rieger in an interview with ZEIT.