The most productive online group exchanges have important features in common. They are variations of basic etiquette.
State a clear agenda: Create a shared understanding of meeting goals to maximize engagement and minimize the natural impulse to multi-task off-screen.
Assign a designated facilitator: Identify a referee to shepherd the pace, steer the agenda and keep things on track.
Agree to no interrupting: Commit to active listening to counterbalance the urge to jump in before a teammate has completed his or her contribution to the conversation.
Check for understanding: Engage multiple rounds of clarification to ensure that messages received are the same as messages intended.
Elevate the quiet participants: Compensate for the likelihood that more introverted teammates will listen more than they talk. Ideas from the more thoughtful participants are often the most valuable insights when trying to find new solutions to new problems.
Magnify nonverbals and body language: Call out eye rolls and deep sighs or any behavior that devalues, diminishes or dismisses a teammate.
Summarize accomplishments and accountabilities: Establish the platform for the next gathering by synthesizing themes and setting expectations for what happens between meetings.
Reserve time for socialization: Check in on each other at a personal level. The need to collaborate remotely is born out of a deficit in proximity. In the absence of actual eye contact and human touch, it helps to express interest, caring and unconditional positive regard.
Adapting to unexpected circumstances always involves two essential phases. In the beginning, we need to lament the loss of previous norms. Some teammates move through this stage quickly while others need to linger. Eventually, everyone on the team joins in the task of defining the new normal, often without enough clarity about what tomorrow brings. It’s like running in the dark. A few ground rules provide teammates with flashlights.