How to get Deep Work done through a Virtual Cave

One of the challenges of a remote team is the ability for people to get caught up in their own projects, with little visibility over what others are working on. Inspired by caveday, running a virtual cave allows team members to connect, drive accountability and focus, and enable great work to get done.

Aim

To combine collaboration, connection, and ‘remote’ work in a productive and focused way.

Resources

  • Your preferred video conferencing tool
  • A scheduled two-hour block of time
  • A cave facilitator

Method

  1. In advance, the Facilitator schedules a two-hour ‘Virtual Cave’ meeting in their teammates’ diaries (ideally, no more than 10 participants in one cave). Participation is encouraged but optional.
  2. Each team member should bring 1-3 tasks that they can work on independently but alongside fellow team members. These might be tasks you’ve been putting off for a while or Deep work (cognitively demanding) tasks that you’d like to complete during this time.
  3. The Facilitator begins the cave by asking all attendees to share what they plan to work on and achieve during the time.
  4. Start the first ~45min ‘sprint’. Each team member works solo on mute but can unmute and ask the group a question at any time.
  5. At the halfway mark, take a 5-minute energy break.
  6. Before shifting into the second ~45min sprint, allow for a brief progress update and some general chit-chat.
  7. After the allocated time, close the cave and book the next one! At Inventium, we have caves scheduled twice a week. One cave is in the morning and generally reserved for Deep work and the second cave is in the afternoon towards the end of the week and reserved for Shallow work.
  8. While caves were originally designed around doing Deep work, if you’re working remotely, you can also experiment with running Shallow work caves for more social working time.

Outcome

Virtual caves enhance cohesion by creating a sense of ‘togetherness’, but they also drive accountability given everyone shares what they want to achieve during the cave session. Research demonstrates that when accountability is increased at the team level, teams become more interdependent, experience higher success, and are more satisfied with fellow members. So hopefully, you also manage to have some ‘water-cooler’ type conversations during your cave and tick something worthwhile off your to-do list.