Imagine that you are sitting at your desk working. You are in that peculiar state when you are productive. The sun is slightly touching your hand but it just adds to the perfect, not too hot not too cold temperature. You found “that” soundtrack and you are the flow. Everything is just flawless, it looks like this task will be done by noon.

You are sure that the hero of the day title is in your pocket. At that moment your messenger makes that irritating beep, somebody drumming on your desk and oh my god, that story goes loudly through the office, again. You are just out of it and you know that task will be delayed for days.

But how can you stay effective in these situations?

Instead of searching for an answer, you should find the root cause and make them disappear. Add some changes to the working environment so everybody can achieve flow in their work.

Making policy for workspaces is considered a hassle and our most used evasion are that we are grown-up humans, we don’t need those things. Obviously, that’s a delusion. Some people pee into the pool where they and their kids swim. Because of the differences in our personalities and habits, we need rules to be comfortable around each other. Maybe it’s just a little change and basic rules but depending on a mosquito, it can make a difference.

How to determine team rules to be effective?

If you’d like everybody to accept the rules, you should ask the team to form them. There should be some that apply to everyone in the office formed by the management but the ones that apply to the team can be determined by the team members. You can come up with some basic ones, but it should be accepted by the employees so they can align with them.

What are the prior ones according to office life?

  • Dog/animal/plant policy
    • I know we’re very hip and cool, but a serious allergy or fear can make anybody furious
  • Coffee and snack policy
    • In an open office, smells can fly like the wind, and munching, supping can be irritating
  • Working stations
    • Order or chaos
    • Having our own or constantly changing
  • Chit-chatting
    • Is it allowed in the working area?
  • Offline disturb mode
    • Drumming on someone’s table is okay?

According to workflow?

  • Disturb mode on/off
    • When and how can you disturb your teammate on what channels?
    • Can they mute those channels?
    • Are there any exceptions?
  • Tasklist
    • Are those predefined tasks?
    • Is there a meeting where they define them?
    • Do they deal with !important tasks during the day?
  • Frequency of email checking
    • When comes the last mail of the day?
    • When should be checked, every hour or 20 minutes?
  • The junior system
    • How can they reach out to their seniors and which seniors?
  • Working hours
    • Is it fixed?
    • How many hours should they spend with actual work?

What are the rules that should be on a personal level?

Our personalities differ. A conflict can linger around for weeks weakening your team. Sometimes, it’s hard to turn off that fight or flight mode, but if the team members know each other’s triggers. Then solving the conflict can be much easier.

Check your team members’…

  • habits
    • team worker or lone wolf
    • human or task-oriented
    • time perception
  • workload
    • overloaded or taking a break
    • when are the peak periods
    • can we add a helping hand
  • pain points
    • what are the main pain points
    • how can we soften or eliminate them
  • cultural differences
    • sometimes we forget that these differences can come from social upbringing too
  • skills
    • they complement each other or they clash
  • personality
    • the specific or holistic perspective
    • personal life challenges
    • feedback culture

And the most important thing is not just to know but share them. If your members know each other weaknesses then they can work together to make strengths from them. Searching for the best solution says a lot about you, but why search when you can ask. The best possible way is the way that everybody accepts. So make room for teambuilding even if it’s online and let your team make their own rules.