How Our 1st Co-Working Call Turned Out
(With practical tips to improve your Co-Working Calls)
Not long ago, one of the team came to us with an idea to try a remote Co-Working call. This was to try and foster a simpler method of communicating with each other.
Here is how it went.
What do we mean by co-working call?
First of all, what we mean is that, whilst we are all working remotely, instead of us needing to arrange individual calls with teammates to talk about projects, we would all get together on a joint video call. We would all have the call on in the background, so when we need to speak to another team member, we could simply voice a question and we’d know that the person we need the information from can respond straight away.
Why we did it
We wanted to try a method of communication that provided a more seamless way of talking with each other, that skips over the task of needing to check if people are available and then arranging calls. This makes the process of speaking to teammates more fluid and relaxed.
How we set it up
We wanted to try this on a limited basis, this isn’t something we wanted to run for a full day as there are times when we all need to concentrate on work that requires no distractions.
So to begin with, we decided it would only last 1–2 hours, it would be scheduled towards the end of the work day, from around 2:00pm — 4:00pm, as this would be a quieter time with less customers calls and emails coming through.
There would be 4 of us on the video call and we tested this on a day where we were generally working on internal projects, where we would more readily need input from other teammates.
How it turned out
Easier to pose questions, and bring other teammates into the conversation.
Easier to pose spur of the moment ideas and get feedback from the team.
Spontaneous non-work discussions help with social interaction.
Having everyone on the call helped remove some of the roadblocks that can come up when needing to speak to someone, for example — A and B start a video call to discuss a project, part way through they need decide they need the input of C. Person C is unavailable at the time, so the conversation needs to be halted and rescheduled for another time. All being on a joint video call, it was simpler to bring people in and out of a discussion when talking about projects.
This was especially useful when someone was working on a project and a spur of the moment they came up with an idea, so could then ask the question and then discuss it and get feedback there and then. This was better as the alternative is either trying to arrange getting everyone together, which can be an issue, especially with a time sensitive subject, or post it in a chat channel or email, and then not be sure if everyone has seen it.
There was also the added social aspect of it, which was a pleasant surprise. At one point, one of the team brought up something interesting they had seen recently on Netflix, which we discussed a little. This added in a social aspect that we hadn’t had while working remotely, outside of our coffee catch-ups, which was nice to have. A small, simple social interaction that didn’t pull us away from work and allowed us to briefly talk about something that we were interested in.
More background noise and distractions.
Difficult when multiple groups are trying to have conversations.
Not always obvious if you’ve dropped the call unless you are checking.
Can feel weird asking something out loud, when not in the same room.
Now, there were some downsides to doing this co-working, all on the same call test, the first was, background noise could be a little distracting. It’s one thing when there is background noise from your own working environment, but when you’ve got unexpected noise coming from your co-workers background, this can be a bit different. So one thing we all decided to do early on was be on mute when not speaking, which helped with the situation.
Difficult when multiple conversations are going one, we didn’t experience this so much when we tested the co-working video call, but it was a potential problem. When multiple conversations are going on in a single room, it can cause confusion and issues, or just simply deteriorate into noise. It’s a situation where it would be better to have a separate call for each conversation, so the solution is for one group to start a new video call, or wait for the other one to finish then talk, depending on what’s best.
Another minor issue is that, as the call is normally kept on in the background while you work, there is no way you would know if the call went down, until you decide to check in or are alerted to it. I had an issue where my internet connection dropped and I didn’t realise that the video call had subsequently dropped until I checked, which meant I may have missed when someone tried to talk to me. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a solution for this, you just have to check in from time to time.
And the final issue, it can feel a little weird to just speak out loud to in an empty room. This in itself isn’t a major problem, it can just feel a little awkward, especially if you’ve forgotten to unmute 😖
It can help when you’ve got the video call up in front of you, as you can see the people you’re talking to and it’s not a deal breaker, but can be a little something to get over.
How we’d go about it going forward
Having done this, we feel that the positives outway the negatives and so will likely do it again. Going forward there are some key things that we will ensure we do when having these co-working video calls going forward.
Use the mute button more
While we are working and not talking to a teammate, we will be be setting ourselves on mute. This will help reduce everyone hearing our background noise and help us stay focused while working.
Co-working calls at less busy times
Schedule to have the call at a time where we aren’t needing to go away and deal with customers or need space to not be disturbed so we can work and concentrate on a project. This way, we can take better advantage of being able to speak to other teammates if needed and it won’t feel like it’s dragging us away from important tasks.
Wait your turn to talk
Because of the potential problem of having multiple conversations going at the same time. So, if teammates are talking and you wish to start another conversation, either wait until the room is free, or start the conversation elsewhere, like a new call or over an IM chat like Slack. This way, we avoid a conflict of voices and the team can speak without it interrupting others and causing confusion.
Limit the length of the co-wroking call
Limit the length that the co-working calls are run, for xample a set time of 2 hours, so as not to encroach on everyone’s time and so the team can schedule their other work, such as phone calls with clients, or times they don’t want to be disturbed while working, around this.
Have you tried your team working together on a single call? Let us know your recommendations in the comments