Phil Montero, founder of The Anywhere Office, introduced me to a system he developed to create team agreements: the ICC Workflow. The idea is to divide the work into three categories (information, communication and cooperation) and to discuss the hypotheses relating to these categories. Each team has its own unique mode of communication and a certain combination of personality types. And just as an orchestra tunes in before a show or an athlete warms up before training, tuning a virtual team helps put everyone on the same side so we can do great things together. In virtual teams, with as much communication over the phone or through web conferences, people can be easily distracted from this and that. It is important that everyone is committed to listening to themselves. Important team agreements can include positive behaviours that the team wants to promote, as well as negative behaviors. They must also explicitly define how the team handles offences and hold each other accountable. When designing teamwork agreements, there are physical and virtual environmental aspects: team members respect each other when they claim responsibility for their parties instead of blaming others. When an entire team in the group stands out, it creates an environment where each member tries to improve rather than repair the others. You want to have an open debate about topics and opportunities in front of the team, but you must always be respectful of each other.
For groups working together over a long period of time, it may be worth spending a little more time developing a longer-term group agreement. You can use a process like the one described below. Although the time of a group agreement sometimes seems a little frustrating, you gain that time later. This makes your event much more fluid. To turn groups of employees into large teams, a powerful first step is to enter into a social contract, an explicit agreement that defines the basic rules of team behavior. A contract may cover areas such as member cooperation. B decision-making, communication, information exchange and mutual support. Social contracts clearly describe the standards on how members interact with each other. How do we give feedback to each other? How should we report to each other that we are breaking agreement? What do we do if someone systematically violates our agreements? Next, we look in detail at the team agreement protocols that are particularly important for remote teams.
Each comes from different experiences and contexts, so some people have knowledge about certain things that others don`t. It makes people vulnerable in shared spaces. The definition of agreements can protect team members, promote borders and create a space for growth. A working agreement is a living document that, depending on the needs of the team members, compensates for the way the team will work. Since there are no two equal teams, the working agreements will be different – and even one team will want to review its work agreement from time to time. For example, if members join or leave a team, the needs of the collective are likely to change. The labour agreement should take these requirements into account. Many organizations establish publicly available agreements and you can access them online. Consider updating your agreements with agreements made by other communities.
I hope this guide has given you direction in creating your own virtual community agreements. We certainly advise you to take the time to formulate these agreements, as they can create a more open and free space for the people you are with in a virtual community. Finally, you must seek agreement on all points of the whole group.