Abstract Aim Task interdependence among staff in nursing homes is high, and staff teams are typically composed of employees from different cultural backgrounds with varying levels of skills and qualifications. By applying relational coordination theory as an analytic lens, we investigated how communication and cooperation challenges are experienced and dealt with. Design This is a qualitative study. Method In‐dept interviews with 31 members of staff in two nursing homes and thematic analysis of the material. Results The study identified challenges in direct communication and collaboration difficulties related to understanding how to use professional discretion in daily care practices in both nursing homes. The management in one of the two nursing homes arranged frequent meetings to share knowledge about the residents, their care status and introduced initiatives to build competence among all members of staff, including substitute and temporary staff. This contributed to ensuring shared goals and mutual respect at the workplace.