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  • Katrina

How a few simple rules can set your team free

When everyone is working from home, how can you make sure that you’re still effective as a team? In the office, your team had its own established rhythms and ways of working, but that doesn’t always translate into a WFH environment.

At home, each team member has different constraints – of space, time and attention – and ideas about what’s ‘okay and not okay’ to do’ can shift. People make assumptions about how available others are, how quickly they can expect a response, or how they should show up at team meetings. Without clear agreements, frustrations can build, damaging trust and teamwork. And it’s hard to broach - people may be feeling insecure about their roles and downplay problems or don’t raise them at all.

So, it helps to agree some ‘house rules’. When everyone is clear about what to expect from each other, they can shape the day to suit their individual circumstances in a way that is much more ‘human’ than the 9-5 grind of office life. And the team can become more self-regulating because it’s easier to call out behaviours when you have agreed them together. It may seem counterintuitive but setting ‘rules’ gives your team more autonomy and freedom.

Here are three suggestions to set clear ground rules:

1. Make it a team effort

  • Explain why team ground rules are needed, then ask everyone to bring 2-3 of their own ideas to a team discussion.

  • Invite each team member, in turn, to propose a ground rule and describe why it would have a positive impact.

  • Ask if everyone can sign up to the rule. Welcome different perspectives and emphasise they should not agree to a rule unless fully willing and able to commit to it. Now’s the time to speak up!

  • Capture the ground rules and refer to them regularly in team meetings.

2. Keep it tight

Aim for around 5 - 8 ground rules They need to be easy to remember and specific - avoid ‘fuzzy’ agreements. Here are some examples that leaders have shared with us.

Everyone is available during core working hours (e.g. 11am to 3pm)
The weekly meeting is ‘all hands’
Outside of working hours, no response is expected unless explicitly requested
Team meetings should take no more than 45 minutes
Start and end meetings on time
Avoid ‘email tennis’ - pick up the phone!

These aren’t meant to be prescriptive - you will need to discuss with your team what will work for you.

3. Check in regularly

Just as the pandemic is fast changing, so is the situation for the team, so it pays to regularly review the ground rules. Ask the team what’s working well and if anything needs to change.


If you’d like to set the agenda for better team working,

give us a call to see how we can help.

Katrina:   07968 302067 Caroline: 07958 371301 Eileen:     07970 933256



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