Valerie Chua
Valerie Chua 3 January 2022

How to Be a Better Co-Worker While Working From Home

One of the everyday freedoms taken from us by the pandemic is the ability to work in close contact with our officemates. The joy of working in an actual office lies in our ability to savor both failures and wins as a group while being in solidarity with each other as we go through a string of professional, and sometimes personal, battles. 

While a great percentage of younger employees claim to have left their jobs for lack of flexibility, around 80% said they would be loyal to their employers if they offered flexible work arrangements, such as the option to work remotely. 

The pandemic has certainly promoted the work-from-home set-up even for global companies, but the challenge of maintaining company culture and forming harmonious and cooperative relationships between employees scattered across different locations could sometimes create a disconnect from common goals. 

Some might be dealing with personal issues, battling isolation from family and friends, or busy tending to a sick loved one, or nursing a newborn baby. We never truly know what goes on behind the screens before or after a Skype team meeting, since this is new territory for most of us. 

The best we can do for the companies we work for is to help establish a flourishing virtual company culture rooted in kindness and patience as we work with our teams remotely during the lockdown. 

Working from home does not automatically mean that one has more time in their hands. Sometimes, being at home could bring more distractions. The office set-up was created precisely because, ideally, tasks should be accomplished there. 

However, a remote work set-up may sometimes blur the line between personal and professional—some of us haven’t gotten used to Skype meetings wearing boxer shorts as bottoms yet. 

Mothers who work from home, for example, may be tasked to tend to their 1-year-old running around in diapers while preparing for a major digital presentation due at noon the next day. The IT manager might need to pick up groceries before briefing his team in the afternoon via Slack. 

We can be better co-workers to all our virtual office mates just by practicing kindness and flexibility ourselves. What this means is that we need to give more consideration to co-workers, and we need to be willing to be more flexible in the way we do things, including being ready for any crisis that may arise so that overall workflow is not disrupted. 

Communicate Often with the Right Tools for your Team

There is no other way to reach your co-workers while we wait this pandemic out but through our established official communications channels. The kind of communication app or software your company uses will depend on the size of your team and the extent of your work. 

The idea is to communicate whenever appropriate with your team using your company’s official comms channels. Appropriate times would fall under agreed work schedules. Sticking to a schedule that works for all parties allows everyone to have a clear delineation between work and play still.

Video calls and conferences once in a while are an absolute necessity to help keep things in check. Some of the most popular apps and productivity software used by top companies include Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. 

Do the Pomodoro with a Coworker

The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that can help keep your remote workday structured. To do the Pomodoro technique, it only requires, at the very core, two things: an accurate, working timer and will power. Set a timer for every 25-minute interval, and do the work together with your officemate during the allotted time. 

The Pomodoro technique ensures that you have well-timed breaks, which you can spend however you like. What about a little 5-minute chitchat with your mate while you wait for the next 25-minute installment? Gamify your workday to spice things up even when you are working remotely. 

Schedule Virtual Lunch or Coffee Breaks

One of the things we miss most about office life is having the chance to catch-up with our teammates over a quick cup of coffee or a meal while on break. 

Who says you can’t hang out with the gang online, too? Agree on a day when you can have virtual lunch breaks or coffee breaks together. Just imagine they are sitting right across you—with your laptop as a barrier. You can still exchange jokes, notes, and pleasantries even if you are hanging out digitally. 

Do Company-Wide Challenges

Spark a friendly competitive spirit among your capable team members by creating company-wide challenges. Tell everybody to bring their A-game as they compete for a fitness challenge, a photography challenge, or any other sort of contest that fits into the matrix of your company culture. 

The most important thing when organizing such challenges is to get as many people involved and actively engaged in something that can entertain them for even a few minutes during the workday. 

Be Honest About your Personal and Professional Boundaries

Perhaps the most important thing—and the foundation, really—of having a great remote working relationship between colleagues across the board is having 100% honesty about your personal and professional boundaries.

Achieving the ideal work-life balance can definitely be achieved when working remotely, as long as both employers and employees are transparent about their respective situations. 

For example, if a company is honest enough about why pay cuts will be necessary for a certain duration, or if an employee communicates in a timely manner that they cannot deliver certain output required at a specific date, then you will have a good foundation of trust and things will work out quite swimmingly. 

Foster a Culture of Realistic Optimism Built on Honesty and Respect

Once you have gotten your groove with the remote work set-up, stick to the methodologies that work and adjust accordingly. It is vital that you do these newly-established ways to bond with your team on a regular basis so that it becomes a habit. This way, it will be ingrained in your company culture, instead of just being a one-off deal that will never be repeated again. 

Don't Let the Distance Make you Distant

Despite the physical distance, a bit of innovation and creativity with the way we use the tools and apps at our fingertips can still promote camaraderie, honesty, respect, and a culture of working towards the common good among remote teams. 

This article was originally published on

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