Body Doubling…helping remote workers and students

Read Time: 3 minutes

When our company was fully remote, there were times when coworkers asked for calls, but because of focus and work loads, I often asked to schedule a meeting to prevent interruptions. This way, I could prepare for it and be fully focused on the subject of the meeting.

With some co-workers, meetings would be quick and to the point. Others, we covered the topics and it would sometimes bleed into other topics. Sometimes, we would just work silently, clicking our mice and keyboards, occasionally asking a question. We found it interesting. Similar to working besides strangers in a library, there was a human connection, presented in sound and pixels.

My daughter, without me recognizing it, does the same thing with friends. Long gone are the days of ringing a doorbell, asking someone to play. On some days, I would come downstairs from the office to find her eating or working on something quietly, only to find out she was on a call with a friend.

I later learned this was dubbed “body doubling.”

Body doubling is the act of working alongside another person, even if they are not physically present. This can be done through video conferencing, phone calls, or even just by being in the same room together.

When you are working alongside another person, you are more likely to stay on task and avoid distractions. Additionally, body doubling can provide a sense of accountability and motivation. When you know that someone else is watching you work, you are more likely to put your best effort into your work.

If you are a remote worker, body doubling can be a great way to improve your productivity and focus. There are many ways to find a body double, such as through online communities, social media, or even just by asking your friends. You may even find a body double by watching a YouTube live stream.

Here are some tips for body doubling:

Choose someone who is compatible with your work style
If you are a quiet worker, you may not want to body double with someone who is very chatty. Conversely, if you are someone who likes to talk while you work, you may not want to body double with someone who is very focused and quiet.

Set clear expectations
Make sure you both understand what you expect from each other. For example, you may want to agree to work on the same tasks for a certain amount of time, or you may want to check in with each other every few hours.

Be flexible
Things don’t always go according to plan, so be prepared to adjust your plans as needed. If your body double is unavailable, you may need to find another one. Or, if you find that body doubling isn’t working for you, you can always stop doing it.

If you are working from home, studying in a dorm, or traveling all the time for work, give body doubling a try. Even better, if it’s with someone who is part of your team, or studying the same things, you can immediately ask and answer questions without spending time crafting an email or waiting for a chat back.

From an recent article in Fortune Magazine…
“…when you have someone you’re sharing goals with, you’re more likely to achieve them, says Alicia Navarro, CEO of Flown, a company that hosts Zoom body doubling. A study from the University of East London on 101 Flown members found a majority indicated an above-average impact on focus (96%) and productivity (94%).”

“If you observe a whole screen of people focusing and working, it’s much easier for your own nervous system to calm down and to almost subconsciously mirror those positive behaviors,” Navarro says.”

Thanks to Dion Calandriello (WPP Global Identity Services | Okta Product Lead) for the original article on body doubling. Here is the article from Fortune Magazine.

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