Working together as a team while working apart

We share your tips on how to keep in touch with your team while working from home.

Colleagues across the College have been sharing how they keep in touch with their teams while working remotely as part of the Imperial@Home campaign.

Regular team meetings

Using Teams regularly lets your team get together and keep up with what’s going on and who is working on what. They can be formal with a set agenda, maybe once a week, but shorter, more frequent meetings can help make up for those informal chats that take place in the office where you share ideas and just catch up with each other. Kim Cyrus, Section Manager in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, said: “We hold Teams meetings at least once a week, and we’ve also arranged ‘coffee breaks’ on Teams to catch up informally.” Justine Alford, Communications Manager with the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) is also using Teams innovatively: “I started a new initiative called Teams Takeover. Every Friday morning, we have an informal get together for people across IGHI where one person has the floor for 15 minutes to talk about who they are, what they do, how COVID-19 has affected them, and also to call out for any collaboration opportunities. It’s been really successful for sparking conversations and ideas, and also getting to know each other a bit more.”

Virtual kitchen conversations

Many of us are missing those casual chats we have with friends and colleagues that we bump into in the kitchen or while making a cup of tea. ICT set up a virtual kitchen on Teams that is open for a couple of hours a day for people to drop in and chat with whoever they meet there. Lizzie Eustace, Head of Transformation Communications (acting) in ICT, said: “It’s just like our real kitchen that a couple of hundred people pop in and out of every day. We’re planning to add theme days like Bake Off or Strictly that people can stop by and chat about.” If you don’t want a kitchen, how about a café? Jan Carberry, Estates’ Communications Officer said: “In Estates we are running a virtual café, daily half hour time slots, some mornings, some afternoons. Called Tastees (anagram of Estates) we have guest hosts to open up and lock up the café and keep conversation running (and moderated) and share the responsibility.”

Social events

Just because we have to be socially distanced, doesn’t mean we can’t be social and it’s a great way to keep in touch with your colleagues outside formal meetings and to enjoy time together. Quizzes, are one option, like Lawrence Barnard in the International Student Recruitment Team who has been organising a regular quizzes for his division which have been a big hit with the team. Virtual pub nights, card games, or even online gaming. Martin Sayers, Digital Media Producer in Communications and Current Affairs, even has an open offer: “I’ve been playing a lot more online games with friends and would welcome online gaming with colleagues. Call of Duty anyone?”

Make use of ICT tools

Outlook is more than just email and keeping track of meetings. Tasks allows you to keep on top of what you’ve got on each day and even share tasks with colleagues, and you can use your calendar to help plan your day and let your colleagues know when you are available. Monica Suarez, Learning and Development Lead in ITC said “When I need to focus I block my calendar with the subject either ‘focus time’ or ‘do not schedule please’.”

For working together, especially on documents, SharePoint is an excellent option. SharePoint allows you to work on documents with team members at the same time and see each other’s changes as they are made. You can also comment on and edit versions of documents. SharePoint is also useful to store files in shared libraries, or even set up an intranet site for your team or department.

Described as “Facebook for work” Yammer allows you to communicate with colleagues from across the College. Departments can set up their own sections, or you can create communities based on work themes or shared interests. The groups can be private or public and allow you to share information and ideas, like this community for remote working wellbeing.

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