How to do remote co-working

The single biggest improvement to my productivity during this epidemic has been from co-working with friends on Skype.

This is really easy to do and doesn’t really need an explanation. But it took some activation energy for me to implement it reasonably well and so I’ll spell out what works for me. Hopefully, that’ll reduce the activation energy for some people.

I’ve entirely stolen this strategy from Jan Brauner who has been regularly co-working on video calls for years. But I’m not claiming this the uniquely best strategy.

  1. Find a co-working partner. There is no shortage of people looking now. You just have to write down a few names and ask them if they want to try co-working. This is very low commitment, they’re just signing up for one session. If you end up with multiple partners, you’ll just have more options.

  2. Set up an initial video call. During the call, share what your plans for the next session are. Then you hang up and work (or stay on call and maybe mute if you prefer).

  3. You both set a timer for e.g. 60 minutes and call each other again when it goes off. Then you tell each other how the session went and if there’s any way in which you’d like to improve. And you can just chat a bit, walk around, have a break. Finally, jump back to step 2) until you want to stop working.

  4. If you decide you want to work together regularly, agree on which days of the week you’ll co-work and at what time you start. Consistency is key.

I find that this works best with two or three people. The more people, the more coordination overhead and the less time everyone gets to reflect about their session in the break.