Whether your company has set a clear remote or hybrid work policy, you must ensure the 'rules of engagement' for remote work are crystal clear within your team. Research from Microsoft shows that only 28% of companies created clear team agreements. Setting clear expectations leads to clarity and improves your team's experience.
What is a team agreement? A team agreement is a set of rules about how a team, often consisting of different personalities with different preferences for how, where, when, and even why to work, can seamlessly work together, often within the context of your hybrid work schedule. It codifies how people should engage with each other, you as their manager, and the work itself.
Setting rules may sound formal and rigid, but games need directions to ensure everyone can enjoy playing them. Setting these guidelines is foundational to managing your teams, creating clarity, and setting expectations about productivity, collaboration, and other matters that impact your success and everyone's satisfaction.
These rules of engagement or guidelines don't have to be like a typical "HR Policy." Instead, see them as a way to capture a mutual understanding between you and your team on how you'll work together. It is, however, good to clarify what happens if people don't adhere to the guidelines.
How to create your Team Rules:
Key questions to answer in your rules of engagement include:
- Why did you choose this (new) working model?
- What are generally the expectations?
- How will you balance freedom and responsibility?
- Is everyone expected to work the same days and hours?
- Is there an opportunity to choose your starting time, or can people even entirely choose their hours?
- During which hours should they be available for meetings? (i.e., "Core Hours" of 10 AM-4 PM.)
- Which platforms are your team members expected to be responsive to, and how quickly are they expected to respond? Consider the differences between waiting on an email reply versus a Teams or Slack message.
- How should employees communicate that they cannot reply due to a sick day, holidays, meetings, etc.? How do people know they're "off"? Status signals from platforms like Slack and Teams are helpful here.
- If people are expected in the office, how many days per week can your team members work outside the office, and who chooses those days?
- Do you require in-office attendance for onboarding, training, town halls, and other gatherings?
- How is productivity measured? How will employees know they're doing well as the workplace becomes more output-focused?
- Are there milestones or OKRs that help keep everyone on track and measure progress?
For more key questions and considerations, see our hybrid work policy page with a free template that you can use to set the ground rules for how your team works.
Once you've set the team rules, share them with your team members and discuss any question it may trigger. From there, measuring and optimizing them over time is critical to understand if and how your team adheres to these rules so you can make appropriate changes and improvements over time.
Running frequent surveys to measure your team's satisfaction with the way you manage hybrid will give you valuable insights. Constantly listening and improving is critical to employee engagement and retention.
Key stats about Team Rules:
Software and tools to use:
- Documentation: Make sure the Rules of Engagement or Policy is easy to find. You can use Notion, Coda, your Microsoft or Google Drive, Clickup Docs, or a dedicated Employee Handbook tool like Blissbook.
- Check-In Tools: If you want to measure when people are in the office (for hybrid teams), you can use hot desk booking software like Cafe or Kadence. For remote teams and other 'clock-in' needs, you can try Buddy Punch.
- Time Tracking: If you want further insight, you can also use time management tools like ActivTrack, TimeDoctor, or Clockify. Remember to use these tools to help team members work more effectively and guard work-life balance rather than as a way to police them on how much they work. Let your team use a digital planner to keep track of priorities and time spent themselves as well.