When people work in an office, they see other people working. Teams might work directly alongside each other, often in the same workspace.

Set a time where everyone on the team comes together on a video call to collectively work together. It’s not a time for chatting and catching up, in fact it’s quite the opposite. The point of virtual co-working is to boost productivity and provide accountability.

Rather than spending time talking to each other, everyone on the call commits to dedicating the entire time to working. Start by quickly having each person share what they’ll be focusing on and what they hope to accomplish by the end of the session. Then everyone gets to work, and comes back together at the end for a quick debrief.

There are a couple of ground rules to set to ensure that virtual co-working actually works. First, video for all participants is mandatory, as is sharing goals for the session. Second, it’s best to keep people unmuted. Just like white noise in a coffee shop can help people be more productive, the sound of hearing someone typing along can also be a motivator and productivity booster. People can choose to mute their own speakers if they find the noise distracting. Third, be clear that this is time to work, not surf the web. Unfortunately you can’t see what’s on people’s screens, or control what they’re actually doing, but a gentle reminder that this time must be dedicated solely to work goes a long way.  

Virtual co-working can happen daily, weekly, or on set days of the week. You can experiment with the length of the calls to see what works best, but usually one to two hours is best. Get feedback from people on the calls to see what’s working and what isn’t and make adjustments as needed.

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