Below are suggested areas for norms to facilitate effective virtual collaboration. The norms below are just a starting point for discussion. Also think about your past experience working virtually with others. What worked well, not so well? Based on this, what standards for behavior does your team want to promote or discourage? Be as specific as possible. This will help to ensure that all team members interpret and perform the behaviors consistently. Update the norms, if needed, as the team gains experience working together.
- Specify expectations for the process of holding team meetings. For example:
- Rotate time zones for meetings in order to be fair to all team members.
- Specify all times and dates as _________ (e.g., Eastern Standard Time).
- Send out agenda _______ days prior to each team meeting (team leader).
- Send out meeting minutes within ________ days after each team meeting (specify who will do this).
- Post team minutes/action items to team workspace.
- Specify expectations for meeting attendance (e.g., being on time, leaving early, missing meetings).
- Specify expectations for preparing for meetings and being ready to contribute.
Specify expectations for team communications, including, but not limited to:
- Specify any standard formats for written communications to highlight key information and facilitate shared meaning (e.g., use “response requested” or “action needed” in the subject line)
- Specify expectations for responding to requests. For example:
- Acknowledge receipt of messages that request input (e.g., feedback, comments, information) within ______ days, even if the input requested is not yet available. Indicate by when you will be able to provide your input.
- Specify the process for notifying the team if a team member cannot attend a meeting or will miss a deadline due to an emergency. For example:
- Inform the team ahead of time if you will be unavailable to respond to team communications for a day or more (e.g., due to a local holiday).
- Let the team know with as much lead time as possible if conditions arise that may interfere with you meeting your deadlines for work on the team.
- Specify expectations for who should be included in different types of communications. For example:
- Copy all team members on the following types of communications: _________________.
- Specify how the team will reach agreement on task-related decisions. Select an approach that best suits the team’s situation.
Team Member Interactions
- Specify expectations for how team members should interact with other team members.
Conflict (disagreement) that is focused on the task and is not personal can be healthy and productive; therefore, encourage constructive discussions of differences that are focused on the task, but work to quickly resolve conflicts that are non-task related.
- Specify how the team will promote healthy task discussion and debate within the team that ensures that all viewpoints are heard and respected.
- Specify how the team will deal with dysfunctional conflict, if it occurs in the team.
- Specify any other team norms that your team agrees are important for working together effectively as at team.