With the move to remote work for so many, including myself, an idea occurred to me. Likely, your teams and colleagues are using many new tools and connecting in different ways if you were previously and primarily co-located.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve collected and cataloged tools, articles, and resources on overdrive to support the many people I work with. Events I organize required work to make the shift to remote attendance and participation. This led to my reflecting quite a bit on just how much has changed in a short period of time. Many of us are experiencing change at a rate we have never seen before. And it’s all virtually located and organized inside our heads in most cases.

As a coach and consultant, I frequently make use of visual information on whiteboards, flip charts, paper even on an iPad with use of Apple Pencil. The first three are nice low-tech options that can be used over video meetings, and there are lots of tools available online or to download to use for these purposes as well.

Likely there are ALREADY tools that allow for this idea I am suggesting here: a virtual team space that connects all the things an employee might need AND gives a sense of physical space for the team to connect in.

There’s a hitch though. Many organizations are currently watching costs given the current financial situation. You may be finding that additional tool licenses are not in the budget.

Some of the amazing work coming out of Business Agility Institute for remote attendance of the NYC conference sparked this idea for me. In a short amount of time, conference organizers created a virtual conference lobby, if you will, for people to be able to visualize the conference experience and connect to the resources necessary for remote attendance. Conferences that are all remote have been doing this for years. It’s not necessarily new. Given the times and pressure, and the shift to attend remotely for many, this was a nice touch that significantly enhanced the virtual conference experience for me.

Borrowing from that experience, here’s a low tech suggestion to help your team members visualize their new way of work.

Create a virtual team space or virtual team lobby that contains image representations for all of the team’s assets, tools etc and that visually represents your virtual team or virtual team space. It might help to consider what you wish that virtual space would look like, and to consider icons or representations that align with the purpose of the tool or link your team uses and their personality.

In this virtual team space, you could consider

  • a visual representation of how you track your work with an image of a digital work board that links to a Trello or JIRA or a picture of your previously physical board
  • a document or file box image that connects to Google Drive or Confluence or other documentation/wiki for your team
  • a team meeting table image that links to Slack, Zoom Room or WebEx
  • for teams who support software or develop software remotely, you might consider a desk picture that connects the team to customized links for their work such as ticketing systems, development tools and virtual machines
  • a picture of the team, or individual pictures of each team member
  • a kudos or sticky wall that includes thanks and appreciation to team members
  • a picture of your workplace that links back to organizational resources, news and collaboration spaces, especially if you have essential personnel on site that you want to thank or spotlight for the work they are doing to support the organization in this difficult time.

I can’t be the first person who has thought of this, so I’m not claiming credit. Happy to connect to others who have done this well, if you know of any examples or if this idea already has a nifty name.