The 9 to 5 office grind days are no longer a necessity for most teams. 

With smartphones, tablets, laptops, and cloud-based software business teams are mobile friendly in every sense of the word and can truly collaborate from the distance. 

So what happens when “work from home” replaces “work at work?”

While distributed teams come across multiple challenges, these are not uncommon in teams that work together. It’s not about the physical distance between team members - it’s about the psychological distances. Making the team work well together is simply a matter of bridging the psychological distance. 

These four simple rules can improve collaboration for teams who are embracing working from home. 

Keep communication open

Whether it’s through chat platforms like HipChat, Skype, Sqwiggle or Kato keeping the lines of communication open is one of the most important elements of a successful remote team. 

If Freddy leaves for a coffee run and Eddie decides to take a gym break but nobody communicates with each other, the team falls apart and the work culture quickly becomes sour. Also, make it part of your team routine to tell everyone when you’re starting your work day and when you’re leaving for the day. Let each other know what everyone is up to, from personal breaks to work-related breakthroughs. 

Accountability and a unified presence will solidify the team and bridge both the physical and psychological distance between team members. 

Establish check points and milestones

It’s easy to feel adrift when you’re working from the comfort of your home, sans supervision and possibly surrounded by unlimited distractions. 

Keep your remote team on track by establishing mini milestones and collaborative checkpoints throughout the day.

Try to have a videoconference around lunch time to allow everyone to meet face to face, share their progress and discuss their projects. Invite individual team members to support each other in achieving goals and providing advice after the call is over. 

What the daily morning huddle can do for teams sharing the same office space, the daily video call can do for your remote team. 

Share the workload, literally

No doubt that in a shared office space, team members can combine thought processes and work together easier. But in spite of what Marissa Meyer might have you think, collaboration is not impossible in a distributed team - if anything, it can become even stronger than in a team that shares the workspace. 

Using a shared team task management tool where team members can log their tasks, projects and challenges throughout the day can bring back the same spirit of collaboration in the digital workspace (with better organization, nicer fonts, and endless space). 

Centralizing this information and making it easy to share with each other is the key ingredient to making your web-based working space useful.

Refuel and recharge the batteries as needed

People feel valued and motivated when they are simultaneously respected and trusted. The keyword is people: we often get too focused on workplace roles such as manager, associate, intern, CEO that we forget our team is made up of people with their own passions, interests, and lifestyles.

Respect the individuals so that they can respect the workplace. This is a critical mutual relationship to foster. You shouldn’t just encourage healthy breaks and personal development activities among your team members. You should actively nurture and cultivate a spirit of wellbeing. 

Your team members will be grateful and motivated to put in more discretionary effort when they see that their workplace cares about them as individuals. 

Happy, healthy team members make for happier and healthier teams.

It all sounds simple right? Communicate, check in, share, and rejuvenate – all in a days’ work.

As always, discovering your team’s own quirks is a learning curve best traveled by trial and error.

Stay focused on building a digital workspace that maximizes trust, happiness, and team productivity, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Has your team embraced a working from home culture? What have you learned works or doesn't work with your team? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.