working from home

Work Culture

Working from home? Here’s how to stay productive as a team


Published on March 31, 2015

Sometimes, a work-from-home day is just what you need. Maybe you have appointments and errands that require you to be close to home, or you simply need some time away from the office to hunker down on a project. If you’re lucky enough to have flexible work policies, working from home can make it easier to juggle personal commitments and take care of business.

But while working from home can be a boon to individual productivity, getting stuff done as a team can be tricky when nobody seems to be in the same place at the same time. So, how do you balance team goals with workplace flexibility? Here are a few ideas — from our team to yours — on how to stay productive even when everyone is working from home.

1. Maintain communication, but minimize interruptions
What’s the secret to highly productive and collaborative teams? Effective communication. This becomes all the more important if most of your team members are working from home. Thanks to the availability of so many different communication tools — from videoconferencing solutions to chat apps — it’s easier than ever to stay connected to your team without leaving your living room. Keep in mind, though, that a work-from-home (WFH) day can be a much-needed retreat for team members who need some extra concentration to complete a project. To minimize interruptions, ask yourself if a chat or email can wait before hitting return.

2. Designate WFH days
In theory, letting people telecommute whenever they want sounds like an easy way to bring flexibility to the workplace. But what happens if a majority of your team coincidentally decides to stay home when you’re in the middle of kicking off a major new project? With everyone working from a different location, it can be challenging to get aligned and move quickly on last-minute tasks. Consider designating a work-from-home day once or twice a month to avoid an empty office on busy days. Pick times of the month that are typically slow for the team — these make good WFH days for everyone to catch up on work or do some big-picture planning off site. If some team members need additional days away from the office, just be sure they know to give everyone a heads up ahead of time.

3. Stay in sync without the hurdles
So most of your team is working from home and you have a client presentation due in a few days. Should you wait until everyone is back in the office to get to work? Luckily, with a file sync and share solution like Dropbox for Business, you don’t have to. Shared Dropbox folders let everyone on your team access and edit the same files — no matter where they are — without the frustration of emailing attachments back and forth, connecting to the company VPN, or keeping track of different versions. The best part? Everyone can pitch in and keep projects moving along from the comfort of their homes (and their pajamas).

4. Focus on results — not face time  
At the end of the day, the key to making WFH arrangements work is trust. Sure, it’s easy to imagine people watching cat videos all day instead of writing up reports and finishing important projects. Chances are, people are actually working pretty hard. After all, being at the office doesn’t always mean higher productivity. Encourage people to share updates and accomplishments when they work from home. This will help bring visibility to all the great work being done outside the office, and can reinforce to your team the value of workplace flexibility.

Work as a team — even from home — with Dropbox for Business. Try it free.