7 ways to drive collaboration & engagement with your teams while working from home

By Nat Kunes May 15 2020 15 min read
working from home

As the COVID-19 crisis persists in the United States, the majority of non-essential businesses, including real estate, have closed their offices and gone remote. As investment managers settle into this new normal, some may be wondering how they can continue to keep their teams engaged and productive. While working remotely does provide more flexibility, it also requires a lot of focus, independence, and reliability. Here are seven ways you can manage team productivity and communication while everyone is remote:

1.) Supply the Right Technology

Working remotely can be difficult if you don’t have access to the tools you need to do your job. Be sure you equip your team with tech programs that make communicating easy and effective. At AppFolio we use Slack, Zoom, and GoToMeeting to communicate with one another, and other programs, like Wrike and Airtable to manage projects and stay on task. 

2.) Encourage Dedicated Workspaces

 While it’s easy to work from your couch or bed, sometimes it can make it harder to stay focused. Encourage team members to create a dedicated workspace, whether that be an actual home office or a makeshift workspace that has minimal distractions. This can be a guest bedroom, walk-in closet, spare desk in a corner, or even a kitchen table. Having a space just for working not only improves concentration, but also helps to mentally separate work life from home life. 

3.) Stick to a Schedule 

Along with a dedicated workspace, it’s important to stick to a schedule while working remotely. A few ways you can do this at home are starting work and stopping at the same time each day, and taking a lunch break at the same time you normally would at the office. If you had regular team meetings at the office, try and hold them via video conferencing at the same time each week to give your team structure and consistency.

4.) Take Breaks

 When you are always connected, it’s easy to work through lunch or late into the night. Be sure your associates are taking breaks throughout the day to decompress and prevent burn out. One method called “The Pomodoro Technique” has proven to be especially beneficial for boosting productivity. First, you choose a task you’d like to complete that day, then you set a timer and work on it for 25 minutes. When time is up you take a 5 minute break and mark a check next to the task. After the break you return and work on the task for another 25 minutes and repeat the process until the task is finished. Every four 25-minute work sessions you take a longer break for 15 to 30 minutes. 

5.) Eliminate Distractions

 With kids, family, and significant others also home due to COVID-19, it can be difficult to remove all distractions, however there are some easy ways to cut back on the ones you can control. For starters, you can silence your phone and turn off notifications on messaging services, like Slack and Gmail, while you are working on a task. In addition, you can stay away from unnecessary distractions, like TV and social networking sites. If you have young children in the house, try game-ifying ‘work quiet time’ and offer activities like arts and crafts, books, and school work for kids to complete while you are working on a task or in important meetings.

6.) Provide Emotional Support

Working from home can get lonely at times, and given the current circumstances, many are feeling overwhelmed and unsure about the future. Be sure to check-in regularly with your team members and let them know you’re here for them. Keep a calm, upbeat, and positive attitude, and you show your appreciation for their hard work. In addition, encourage self-care and share helpful resources like apps for exercise and meditation, and mental health checklists

7.) Set-up Non-Work Social Interactions

Lastly, don’t forget to have some fun with your team. It’s important to create time for sharing new hobbies, tips, and stories just like you would at the office. Everyone is going through a difficult time together, and by having some virtual team bonding activities and meet-ups in place you can stay connected, engaged, and relieve stress. For some unique ideas, check out our recent blog on What AppFolians are Doing to Stay Connected and Engaged While Working From Home.

Shifting your entire business to working remotely isn’t easy, however if you supply your team with the right technology, support, structure, and advice they need, your business can be just as productive and connected, if not more than before.