In the central Office of Library Services, our small but mighty team of systems librarians and catalogers undertook the migration of the CUNY Libraries’ system from Aleph to Alma, affecting around 700 library staff across 35 libraries. Amid this, the COVID-19 pandemic forced remote work, administrative turnover led to uncertainties, and staff resignations and retirements decimated our team. Despite these challenges, we successfully completed the migration with remote training sessions. During this period, I was promoted to Director of Library Systems, supervising staff remotely for the first time. To help onboard a new hire and maintain team cohesion, I instituted a daily co-working hour. Three years later, this practice is a beloved aspect of our team, transforming our isolated work into a collaborative experience.

Concept of Co-Working Hour

The concept of co-working is not new. It’s well established in the tech industry and among remote teams. This practice involves team members working together in a virtual space, like a video call, for a set period. During these sessions, participants work on their individual tasks while staying connected via video, chat, or other collaborative tools, providing a sense of shared presence and facilitating quick communication.

In my team, we adapted this concept to fit our needs in the academic library and higher education sector. Our daily co-working hour allows us to maintain a collaborative environment despite being physically apart. Each morning, we connect on Zoom (and later Teams) to work together, share updates, tackle support tickets, and prepare for meetings. This practice has become a beloved aspect of our team, transforming isolated work into a collaborative and engaging experience. Our implementation demonstrates how such a concept can benefit teams in various industries, fostering productivity, communication, and a strong team bond.

Benefits of Co-Working Hour

Implementing a daily co-working hour has brought numerous benefits to our team, significantly enhancing our remote work experience.

Increased Accountability

Being “present” with colleagues can boost individual productivity and keep team members accountable. During our co-working sessions, each member is aware of the collective effort, which encourages everyone to stay focused and on task. This shared sense of responsibility enhances overall productivity and ensures that tasks are completed efficiently.

Enhanced Collaboration

Immediate access to colleagues allows for quick problem-solving and collaboration. Our co-working hour provides an opportunity to discuss and resolve issues in real-time, rather than waiting for scheduled meetings or dealing with delayed responses via email. This immediate feedback loop helps us tackle support tickets together, brainstorm solutions, and prepare for meetings effectively.

Reduced Isolation

Regular virtual interactions help mitigate feelings of isolation and strengthen team bonds. In a remote work environment, it’s easy to feel disconnected. However, our daily sessions allow us to share updates, joke around, and connect on a personal level. This sense of camaraderie is crucial for maintaining morale and fostering a supportive work culture.

Improved Communication

Constant communication channels foster better understanding and teamwork. Our daily co-working hour ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and ensuring that tasks are aligned with our goals. This continuous flow of communication promotes a cohesive team dynamic and improves overall efficiency.

When describing this virtual co-working concept to a colleague, one of my team members shared a powerful insight. She mentioned that she never feels out of touch with me or her co-workers. She is in constant contact with us, starting her mornings on a positive note. This routine boosts her morale and makes her feel more comfortable reaching out throughout the day. This anecdote highlights the significant impact of our co-working hour on individual team members’ comfort and confidence in communication.

Our daily co-working hour has transformed our remote work environment by fostering accountability, collaboration, communication, and reducing feelings of isolation. This practice has become an integral part of our team’s success, demonstrating its value in enhancing remote work experiences, regardless of industry.

Challenges and Solutions

Implementing the daily co-working hour came with its set of challenges. Initially, the first few weeks and months felt awkward. The practice was new to everyone, and we weren’t sure what to talk about or how to behave during these sessions. To ease this transition, I made attendance voluntary but committed to being present every single day. This consistency provided my team with a reliable touchpoint, knowing where and when they could find me.

Over time, we found our rhythm. We grew comfortable with each other and began opening up both personally and professionally. These sessions became a safe space where my colleagues and I shared personal tragedies, such as the loss of three pets in six months, and provided each other with much-needed comfort and support. It was also during these hours that we laughed the hardest, strengthening our bond.

The co-working hours also proved to be highly productive. We used this time to reviewing outstanding support tickets, collaborate on solutions, review responses from vendors, and prepare for the day. Even in moments of silence, when we worked independently for upwards of 30 minutes, there was a comforting presence knowing we were there and always willing to team up.

Attendance remains voluntary, yet we now have 100% participation. Those who initially joined out of curiosity soon recognized the immense benefits and did not want to miss out on this valuable time. This shift from voluntary attendance to full participation underscores the effectiveness of our co-working hour in fostering a supportive, collaborative, and productive team environment.

How to Implement Co-Working Hour

Implementing a co-working hour is simple, cost-effective, and requires minimal resources. All you need is a computer, a camera, and an agreed-upon time to meet regularly. Here are some practical steps:

Commitment from Leadership

As the team leader, commit to being present every day. Your consistent participation sets the tone and provides a reliable touchpoint for your team.

Lead by Example

Be prepared to lead by example. Share personal details about yourself to create an open and trusting environment. When team members see you opening up, they’ll feel more comfortable doing the same.

Regular Schedule

Choose a regular time that works for everyone. This practice is ideal for small teams working in the same time zone or keeping similar work hours. In my experience, starting each day with a co-working hour has been particularly effective.

Create a Comfortable Space

Encourage a relaxed atmosphere where team members can chat, share updates, and work together on tasks. This can even include enjoying a few moments of silence while working independently.

By following these steps, you can foster a collaborative and supportive team environment, enhancing productivity and team cohesion.


Implementing a daily co-working hour has proven invaluable for our team. It has fostered a sense of community, improved communication, and boosted overall productivity. This practice can be easily adapted to suit various industries, providing significant benefits for any remote team.