Years ago when I was an office-bound employee, I sat through an HR facilitated session when my team and I were welcoming a new boss. The facilitator would ask the manager about his work style, how he preferred to receive certain types of information, or his expectations of each team member. I found the whole thing a little hokey. However, as years passed I realized the benefits of establishing expectations with employees or at least establishing some guiding principles or norms that should guide team behavior. Many telework arrangements tend be high-level and leave employees wondering about some of the specific work behaviors or practices that are acceptable in the virtual environment. You can help clarify this by having a team discussion to collectively agree on how the team should work. (By the way, this works for any virtual team, temporary or permanent, and not just for organizations implementing telework.)
Below is a list of questions you can review with your team. It’s certainly not all inclusive, but it should help get you started.
- What is the preferred method of communication?
- What events or activities is it critical for the team to meet live? In person?
- Is there any preferred virtual meeting etiquette that should be followed?
- What things are best communicated via live meetings versus email versus discussion boards versus instant messaging?
- How fast should someone provide a response to an email?
- Are there “normal working hours” when everyone on the team is expected to be available/accessible?
- Is it okay to contact someone by cell phone? Home phone? Any restrictions?
- Do you require virtual team members to be on video/webcam?
- What, if any, is the dress code for virtual team members?
- What is the preferred method to escalate issues or resolve conflict?
- What are your virtual pet peeves?
- What things or behaviors are off limits or unacceptable?
Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s all team dependent. The value of this exercise is getting everyone on the same page to avoid problems down the road.
Got a guiding principle of your own? Let me know!