Mar 17, 2020 in Viewpoint

How to support employees to collaborate from home

At the moment, employees all over the world are working from home. Although there has been said at some point the office would disappear altogether, we believe it’s here to stay. The office plays an important part in employee happiness, productivity, creativity, and collaboration. Right now, we’re missing out on a lot of these factors. Working from home for a day is something employees do every now and then to focus, but working from home for at least three weeks, that’s a first. How can you support employees at home? And how can you help them collaborate from a distance?

Esmeé van Vliet
by Esmeé van Vliet
Remote working
The Allen Curve shows that communication decreases as distance increases

Enable virtual collaboration

Now that working in the office is no longer an option in the upcoming weeks, there is less than zero chance of employees bumping into each other in their living room. And yet, those moments are where the magic happens. Employees need to spontaneously run into each other and meet to solve complex ideas and work on projects together. And it’s not just about working together, it’s also about feeling part of a team and a company that is now missing. In the office, employees would casually catch up behind the coffee machine or play some pool to discuss their weekends. But how can we create those sacred moments for employees from a distance?

Set up the online workplace

About fifty years ago, a professor named Thomas Allen came up with the so-called Allen Curve theory. He noticed that the farther away people are from each other, the frequency in communication decreases. Luckily, today we have multiple ways to increase communication through audio and video.

Smart technology in the office can make sure employees can find out where Ellen from Sales is. But online communication makes it possible for employees to chat with Ellen, even though she’s miles away. Many companies already use digital media to build and maintain social relationships with colleagues. As part of the facility management team or as a workplace consultant, you want to set up your team for success and make sure they’re equipped with all the tools they need to collaborate at home – and yes, that’s more than email. We’ve gathered some online tools that don’t replace physical collaboration, but may support employees in working together and building those unicorns.

  • Slack helps foster inclusion since any employee can join in on a conversation or channel. They provide the opportunity to call, have online meetings, share screens and presentations, like you would in any other normal meeting. But it isn’t just all serious talk, it’s also possible to have a little fun by sending GIFS and creating polls. And how about a #coffeetalk channel or #lunchchannel to share some personal stuff? The coolest kid on the block, if you ask us.
  • Monday is a favorite from the marketing team at Mapiq. When working remotely, employees can’t ask their colleagues what they are working on in a project and expect an immediate reaction. And that’s where the importance of planning tools come in. They allow insights into what team members are up to, make it possible to ask and respond to questions and customize boards to make them fit the company values. And well... their UI doesn’t hurt either.
  • Zoom is the perfect tool to host online meetings. In real life, meetings can be inefficient and take up too much time. Image online meetings with multiple participants! Make sure meetings are only held if truly necessary and use a tool that provides good online video conferencing without the fa..l…te..r. This can make video conferencing more fun. Always make sure employees put on their cameras. After all, sometimes we may interpret things differently than they are just by hearing it.
  • Microsoft Teams is our beloved all-in-one collaboration app, that helps the Mapiq team stay organized and communicate. This tool is specially made to enhance collaboration and replace for example email. You can kinda see it as the office, but online.
Make sure you set up a remote department for these tools. An online space where employees can find login information and background materials. Also, a how-to-guide for new tools, always comes in handy.

Share your office experience

The office will play even a bigger role in the future than it does now. Offices will support employees not only with getting their work done efficiently, it will also become a place for social activities and relaxation. The office will bring employees together to inspire and inform.

On Thursday the 26th of March we gave tips and tricks on how to help employees work remotely and manage the office from a distance in our webinar. Read the highlights here.

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