Business Engineering

Virtual Co-Working – The answer to your productivity prayers?


What is it about working in an office environment that keeps productivity levels on the straight and narrow?

What is the trick?   

Psychological trickery is the answer: with co-workers appearing to be working hard, in a room that the mind associates with work, means you’re more likely to actually do the work.

This trickery, which is missing from our remote working lives, explains why workers are attempting to recreate the camaraderie of the office. Employees are guilty of working ‘side by side’ with colleagues in virtual co-working sessions and switching to video conferencing for prolonged periods of time.

But Why?

Okta – an IT service management company, polled 6,000 workers in 4 European countries. 23% of U.K employees said their productivity levels dipped due to not being in the same place as their co-workers, while a staggering 41% missed having a dedicated work space.

A 2017 study from the University of Chicago found that having ‘observers’ can change our speed and performance in simple, well-practised tasks but can fundamentally alter our perceptions of personal productivity.

Furthermore, Tawanda Johnson at RKL Resources, says it adds a layer of accountability that stops people from procrastinating. “It’s very easy to multitask and become distracted during remote conferences”, she says, because, let’s face it, how easy is it to have your camera switched off and be distracted by cleaning the kitchen?

For employees who find themselves with productivity challenges in a remote environment, she recommends using video as much as possible, adding: “It allows them to have that office feel, see co-workers, and it can also help ensure that you are not multi-tasking which helps keep your productivity solid.”

Zoho Meeting 

That’s why so many companies invest in applications like Zoho Meeting. The secure online tool allows you to conduct online meetings and host webinars, deliver online training through broadcasting presentations and demos, or meet face to face for real-time discussions using audio, video, and screen sharing.




Michal Strahilevitz (professor of marketing at St Mary’s College – California) points out “We are more likely to dance when others are dancing, more likely to laugh when others are laughing, and more likely to be productive in a room full of other productive people.” This demonstrates that it’s easier to perform tasks when other people are doing the same thing.

“This is why long meeting calls make sense. It may not be as good as sitting together, but it beats being truly alone with nothing but your work and self-will to motivate you to focus and be productive.”


Asynchronous Communication  

But digital consultant Viputheshwar Sitaraman warns that remote workers should not be ‘always on’. He believes companies should use asynchronous communication, that doesn’t happen in real time, so people can be productive between talking to colleagues.

He adds: “I’ve seen the drawbacks of this approach first hand in remote or partially-remote teams long before Coronavirus. Being in an office is ideal for working synchronously, but working remotely necessitates working in parallel across different people’s schedules. Effective communication is the first step to eliminating the ‘endless’ remote workdays.”

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