As we enter the fourth week of nation-wide lockdown in New Zealand, staying connected with our colleagues while working from home (WFH) is more important than ever. To help overcome this challenge we have collated the key learnings that have enabled the IT Partners Team to stay connected.

Communicate

If you’ve ever heard of “being seen and not heard”, it’s the opposite for someone WFH.

  • Communicate often
    Make it a habit to connect frequently with your colleagues and stakeholders. Internally, a group Microsoft Teams Chat for ongoing conversation or a shared document to display progress updates can be highly effective.
  • Make space for fun
    Use a Microsoft (MS) Teams channel or chat dedicated to fun—share news, pictures, and stories. Try a GIF, sticker or emoji to express yourself. At IT Partners, we have found several effective ways to make room for fun, such as our MS Teams channels, ‘Animals and Pets’ and ‘Life and Fun’.
  • Virtual ‘water cooler’
    Make up for missing hallway talk or connecting in the café by using MS Teams chat or calling. Set yourself a reminder to check in with your team mates frequently.

Collaborate

Use technology to connect and collaborate regardless of your location.

  • Virtual ‘huddle’
    Quick meetings are effective at getting everyone on the same page quickly. Schedule a quick call with your collaborators to get the same impact of a quick in-person connection. For example, our Engineering Team has continued with their daily huddles, once held in the office, these are now on MS Teams.
  • Switch to digital events
    Keep your companywide events on the books with MS Teams. At IT Partners we have actually increased the frequency of Team catch ups. For example, each Friday holding a ‘Virtual Beer, Wine and Week End’ Teams call.   

Lead inclusive online meetings

As you continue with online meetings, consider these factors to make them productive and welcoming for all.

  • Video on (when possible)
    Use video functionality to hold more inclusive meetings. Facial expressions can help to increase connection and understanding.
  • Be present and respectful
    Limit multitasking during meetings. Turning on your video can show that you are paying attention and allow you to focus on the person or people on your call. Blur your background to reduce distractions.
  • Pause for others to speak
    It can be hard to find space to speak in a meeting, and even harder when everyone is virtual. Make sure there’s time and opportunity for all voices to be heard.

For many people, co-workers are their main source of daily human interaction. Our Team is the first to admit that we miss seeing and interacting with each other on a daily basis. However, we have certainly found these strategies useful for overcoming the social challenges associated with isolation, and we hope they can be of benefit for you!