Personal & Professional Development: Developing Digital Norms For Happy Teams | Rahaf Harfoush | Skillshare

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Personal & Professional Development: Developing Digital Norms For Happy Teams

teacher avatar Rahaf Harfoush, Professor and Best Selling Author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:36
    • 2. Decoding Digital Habits

      6:30
    • 3. Defining Team Constraints

      5:00
    • 4. Negotiating Clear Expectations

      6:25
    • 5. Creating a Calendar Strategy

      5:07
    • 6. Expecting the Unexpected

      4:14
    • 7. Communicating Your Boundaries

      2:28
    • 8. Making the Changes Stick

      2:54
    • 9. Final Thoughts

      1:51
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About This Class

Communicate with your team in an environment free of pressure or stress with digital anthropologist and author Rahaf Harfoush!

Digital communication is at an all time high, but so is the opportunity for miscommunication. It’s getting harder for some of us to disconnect, to have clear boundaries between work hours and personal hours, and to navigate interpersonal team dynamics. Join Rahaf as she walks you through her Digital Charter to improve collaboration and prevent burnout on your team.

Together with Rahaf, you will: 

  • Decode your and your team’s digital habits
  • Define your team constraints
  • Negotiate clear expectations 
  • Create a calendar strategy that works 
  • Expect the unexpected and define the hierarchy of urgency
  • Communicate your boundaries
  • Make the changes stick  

After taking this class, you’ll have a deeper insight into your own communication style and expectations and hopefully a better understanding of how technology impacts the way your team functions on a fundamental level. 

Whether you work with geographically distributed teams, have a hybrid work culture, or are merely interested in improving asynchronous communication on your team, you’ll walk away from this class with a plan you can put into practice right away. 

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Rahaf’s class is designed for students of all levels to participate and enjoy.

Meet Your Teacher

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Rahaf Harfoush

Professor and Best Selling Author

Teacher

Hello, I'm Rahaf.

I'm a Digital Anthropologist, Professor, and New York Times Best Selling Author.  I teach people how to become Humane Productivity practitioners -- how to supercharge their creative performance without sacrificing their mental, emotional, or physical well being. 

I am the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, where I research the impact of technology on the way we live and work. I've been named to France's National Digital Council and served on a Presidential Commission researching the role of technology in democratic elections. I'm also a visiting policy fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. 

I teach Innovation and Disruptive business models at the School of Management and Innovation in SciencesPo in ... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: [MUSIC] If there's one thing that you should take away from this class, it will be a deeper insight into your own communication style and your own expectations, and hopefully a better understanding of how technology impacts the way your teams are functioning on a fundamental level. I'm Rahaf Harfoush, I'm a digital anthropologist, professor, researcher, and New York Times bestselling author, specializing in digital culture, innovation, and leadership. I teach innovation and disruptive business models at the School of Management and Innovation at Sciences Po in Paris and I'm the author of three books, most recently, Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity, and Thrive in a World Obsessed With Work. This course tackles a subject that impacts all of us, digital communication in a constantly connected world. If you work with geographically distributed teams, have a hybrid world culture, you're trying to figure out communication in this environment, well, this class is for you. We'll be focusing on a document that I think every single team needs, the digital charter, sort like a treaty, part agreement, part conversation starter, part peace of mind. It's something that you'll put together with your team to improve your collaboration and burnout, prove you're working habits. In each lesson, we'll focus on one part of the charter and we'll fill it out together. I'll show you how to evaluate your own digital habits, how to talk to your team about digital boundaries, and how to put some protocols in place to handle anything unexpected that comes your way. The hardest part of this class, we'll be taking a look at our own habits and challenging ourselves and our teammates to consider a different approach. By the end of this class, you'll walk away with something that you can put into practice right away. Don't be afraid to make this your own, you might find that some aspects apply to you more than others and that's okay. The key here is to feel empowered, at ease, and in control of your digital communications. I'm so excited for you to take this class because I know without a doubt there is a better way to work, one where you can communicate with your team in an environment without unnecessary pressure or stress, and the benefits that you'll feel will be immediate. Honestly knowing that I'm helping making people's working lives just a little bit better is part of the reason why I love my job. I would encourage you to share your digital charter, especially your digital communication audit with other learners here on Skillshare. The more versions we see, the more our community will benefit, so don't be afraid to ask questions or to share your customizations. Are you ready to get started? Let's go. 2. Decoding Digital Habits : Each one of us has our own habits, routines, and preferences. Whether it's how we like to start our day or how we like to structure our to-do lists, there are just certain things we'd like to do in a specific way because it works for us and digital communication is no exception. For example, you might have certain apps that you check in a particular order first thing in the morning, or you might have your own strategy for how you tackle your inbox, or how you prioritize notifications. It's very likely that these habits and routines have become such a normal part of your day that you don't even notice them anymore. They're like the invisible infrastructure that guide how you spend your time, but have you ever stepped back and considered how your own digital habits could be impacting your team's culture. Today we are going to try to tackle that question and we're going to do it by filling out a personal digital communications audit. We're going to be using the digital audit PDF, so if you don't have that handy pause the video, print out a copy, and then come back when you're ready to go. Let's fill this out together. The first question is your favorite digital channels. Are there certain digital channels you prefer over others? For example, some people love Facebook Messenger or others are die-hard texters. For me, I use Telegram, Signal, and WhatsApp primarily, so we just fill that out right here. Those are my preferred channels. Other examples could be something like Instagram DMs, or emails or iMessage, or Slack message. You get the picture. I want to think about message format. Do you like sending text, voice notes, or video notes? Again, personal preference. I love text messages and I'm not a super big fan of videos or really notes unless it's like a friend. The next box is emojis. Are there emojis, phrases, or abbreviations that you're prone to using? You can check your phone for the most recent emojis that you've sent in order to get an idea of your emoji habits. When I did this I realized that I used the ghost emoji, but not everybody knows what that means. You might have a favorite expression, or an acronym, or a set of emojis that you like to use regularly. This is really important to know about yourself if you work with multicultural teams because as I've learned, some emojis and phrases have different meanings depending on where you are in the world. Think about that and fill that out here as a ghost emoji. Next up is your writing style. What about your punctuation? Do you like to write out the word okay? Do you use all caps? Do you just send a k or maybe a kk with the period. This is especially important if you're communicating with people from different generations because if you're a stickler for grammar you might find that you like sending messages that have a period at the end of them, but a younger colleague might interpret that period as a sign that you're mad or that you're displeased with their performance. I'm pretty I'd say informal. I'm pretty relaxed. I'm not obviously breaking rules, but I'm a good texter. Next up we're going to fill this formality level because some people are more formal in tone while others are more casual. I live in France and the one thing that I've noticed is that the French are more formal in their emailing culture than in North America. For example, you would never use a person's first name if you don't know them, whereas in North America I would find it totally normal and fine to get an email from somebody I didn't know saying something like, "Hey Rahaf. What's up?" I had a French friend who once tell me that my emails were too informal and could even be perceived as rude, and I'm so glad they said something because honestly I had no idea. I tend to be informal across all channels, so let me just fill that out like that. I need to know this about myself so that I can remind myself that I'm always using the right formality especially with somebody who doesn't know me. Just fill that out for all of your different platforms. Next, I want to talk about timing which is this box right here. I want you to list down how long it takes you to get back to somebody. Do you respond in a few seconds, minutes, hours, or days. I'm really bad at rapid replying, but I have friends who are super quick. Remember, there's no right or wrong answers here. We're just figuring out our own patterns of digital communication, so I will put something like 1-2 business days for emails, maybe one day for my text and chat. Just go through and list them all out. Go to the box below and think about when do you expect somebody to reply to you? What's the appropriate amount of time that you feel someone should take to get back to one of your messages? For example, 1-2 days to get back to an email is fine and non-urgent email is actually fine. One to two days for WhatsApp is pretty fine as well, so I would just go through and list all of that. I want us to look at our tagging behavior. Do you like to copy anyone and everyone who is on messages or emails or you're very selective about who gets looped into a conversation? Let's say I'm pretty selective. I hate when I'm looped in on emails that have nothing to do with me, that's just my personal preference. List down your own. Take the time to fill this out to really understand your own preferences and what they say about your expectations around digital communication. I've even left a little box at the bottom in case you have something that you want to change, or update, or adapt, or a little note you want to send to yourself. Look at your own answers and now imagine that your boss or your colleague is somebody who has the exact opposite preferences. You like instant responses, they take hours or days to get back to you. You love getting included in conversations, they hate anything that adds unnecessary chatter. They love to send you voice notes and you would prefer if they would please just text. Can you see how tensions and conflicts can arise in this scenario, or how two people on the same team could feel disconnected or misunderstood? The reason we fill out the sheet with our own preferences first is that before we can put policies in place on how a team should communicate or how they should use digital tools, we have to understand our own habits, and routines, and our teams' habits and routines as well so that we can negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement. Ideally, you would have everyone fill out their own copy before beginning a chat or discussion, but you could also fill it out altogether. The choice is yours. Once you have filled out this sheet, you can move on to the next step. 3. Defining Team Constraints : Our next step is going to be figuring out what constraints your team is currently working with. Because before we can get into the details of the digital charter, we need to understand how the team on a whole is functioning. You're going to want the team constraints sheets for this lesson, both the weekly and monthly page. This first step can be done either alone or with your team, is to start with the top of the form which is a detailed overview of your team's weekly responsibilities and constraints. Now every team has certain deadlines, projects, meetings that are not negotiable. Any charter policy has to work around those constraints, otherwise they're not going to stick and people are not going to follow them. For example, if your team has a standing meeting with your director every Tuesday, and that's your director's only time to meet, you're probably not going to be able to shift it around that easily. Instead, you'll have to find a way to work around it. Or let's say your team is responsible for delivering a report every Thursday, and that means that everyone needs to be present the day before to make sure that it gets done on time. Well, that needs to be taken into account as well. We're going to fill out this top part where we're just going to look at the week and figure out where are our blocks. My company I do advisory coaching on Thursdays, so that's a hard block for me, so just go ahead and block it off. On Friday afternoons, I generally do research, so that's like a semi block, let's just block that off. On Mondays, I like to block off the morning for writing, so I would just block that off here like this. Once you've done that, I want you to go down to the next box, which is the operational hours box. Members of my team work in different time zones, so there are certain hours where not everybody is operational. If you have international colleagues or across time zone colleagues, you'll want to identify the window of time during the workday that overlaps with as many time zones as possible where everyone is generally awaken somewhat available. Now most of the teams that I've worked with have wiggle room in terms of their available time, so start with these constraints and then you'll see what parameter you have left to work with. For example, for me it's between, I'd say 03:00 PM here in Europe to about 9:00 PM which gets me to as many people as possible. Now, different companies have different levels of flexibility, so if your team does have a lot of constraints, don't worry, don't be discouraged, there are still a lot of things we can do to put a great charter in place, and we'll talk about what some of those things are later on. Now, I've given you two options here, both weekly and monthly, so you can use one or both, whichever works best for your team. Because some teams have weekly limitations and other teams have monthly or quarterly constraints, so just adapt the sheet to the time-frame that works. I'll show you an example of the monthly constraint would be if your team has a deliverable that they have to hand in every month, they might be certainties of the month that are less flexible than others, so you would just take this little monthly sheet and you would say, okay, this week is going to be a block for us. This is really useful for teams whose weeks look quite different. Now you go back to this weekly frame over here, this weekly overview, and I want you to start adding in your personal constraints both for yourself and for your colleagues. For example, you might have somebody who has to take their child to karate class twice a week at 5:30 PM, so I put that in here, in the evenings. You might have somebody who wants to prioritize an afternoon walk to clear their head or who have elder care or medical appointments or other commitments. Just go ahead and add those in here as well to get an idea of what personal constraints your team and your colleagues are working with. You can even use different colors if you like, and make it look fancy. Now we're going to fill in the part of the sheet that's called your personal working preferences. For example, how many people on your team are night owls or early birds? I once had a client who did this exercise and realized that most of the people she managed were night owls, and yet their weekly scheduled meetings were always first thing in the morning. After she conducted an audit, she decided to shift the team meeting to later in the afternoon and she noted an improvement in everyone's mood during this new schedule time. They all had more energy, and the meetings were more productive, because people weren't struggling to wake up. Now everyone's life is complicated, we all have a lot going on. The goal of this exercise is to put everything on the table so that we have a complete picture of what the team needs and what is expected of them. We want a clear and concise overview. I've even left a section at the bottom for you to make notes on anything that you notice, any patterns or habits just so that they're top of mind later on when we're discussing the charter. Because in order for a system to work, we have to understand all the players, and all the moving parts. Once you've completed the whole sheet, it should look something like this, even some ideas for improvements, change meeting times for example. Now that you have your own preferences and your team's constraints, you're ready to start outlining the details of the charter. 4. Negotiating Clear Expectations : You should have your own communication preferences, your team's preferences, your team constraints. Once you've filled all of that stuff out, we can now start negotiating the team charter or the agreed upon rules for digital engagement. What's the goal? The goal here is to set clear expectations that everyone on the team agrees with and benefits from. This is a negotiation. Because listen, as much as we would love for everyone to do things our way all the time, that's not really realistic. We have to come to an arrangement that works for everyone on the team, which means we all including you, should be ready to compromise and adjust some of our expectations. Now remember, this is a negotiation, not a competition, so you're all on the same side and you're working for the benefit of the entire team. Now ideally, you would do this in a meeting altogether. You'd be having a conversation, because what we're trying to get to is to get really specific about details so that there is no ambiguity. You will need the digital charter PDF for this lesson, so be sure you have that handy. Once you have the sheet in front of you, you'll go item by item or box by box, and you'll discuss as a group what the final policy should be. Let's do an example of this together, so you get an idea. The first step here is the agreed upon response time. Here you'll make a list of the tools that your organization uses, then go one-by-one and determine the appropriate amount of time somebody should take to respond. Let's start with emails. You start with emails and let's assume that it's not urgent emails because we will deal with emergencies and urgent requests a little bit later. This is for just a non-urgent regular work email. I would open up the conversation at this meeting that would say, okay guys, I think we should have two full business days to answer non-urgent meetings. Then one of my colleagues would be like, whoa, we're half, that is way too long. I think everyone should answer in 30 minutes or less. Then people start weighing, we have a conversation and hopefully we reach a compromise to what an appropriate response time should be. For example, in this particular case, maybe we agree to check our emails three times a day so that a client always or a teammate always hears back from us within a couple of hours. Once we agree on that, we write it down, emails 2-3 times a day, whatever it ends up being, and you move on to the next tool. You move on to Slack or text messages or whatever it is. Now, I want to talk briefly about why setting these guidelines is so important. First, it ensures that everyone knows what their teammates and colleagues expect from them. When we expect instant responses, the result is that people get interrupted and distracted all the time in their rush to answer us, and this creates a loss of productivity and focus. By setting the policy upfront, it gives people the chance to control their time and to ensure that they're focusing on the right thing. Plus there's no ambiguity. You know that you're going to get a response within the set timeframe, so you don't have to spend your mental bandwidth waiting and anticipating for an answer. Now, I know not all messages are created equal, but we'll talk about that in a later lesson. Right now we're just setting general guidelines. Next up is the after our email, what happens if you receive an email outside of working hours? Is there an expectation to respond or can you wait until the next day? Now remember, we're not talking about urgent emails, so you might decide as a team to set a policy that sounds like this. If you receive a non-urgent email after working hours, you can disregard it until the following business day. Now, this gives people the chance to actually disconnect from work and concentrate on being with their families instead of tethered to a device. There's something that's really powerful about giving people permission to do this. It empowers them to prioritize their personal time. Because the reality is, if the team communicates after hours, then that has become an accepted norm and people will feel socially pressured to keep up with this expectation. By having a clear policy written down, people can disconnect with peace of mind. Let's just go ahead and fill in your after hour policy. The next section is tagging and copying people on messages. Now, this goes back to your personal preferences about whether you'd like to be in the loop or whether you want to be really selective about what messages you receive. This is the time when you can discuss general best practices with your team. For example, if you were to use a service like Slack, this issue is usually handled by having different channels so people can choose to receive the notifications and messages that are relevant. But if like many companies you have an email heavy culture, it could be great to identify what makes the cut for a group wide message. For example, you could agree that you're going to create some internal resources that have updates on ongoing projects so that instead of messaging people, there's a place where they can go if they need that information. This is called a pull versus push, because you're creating a resource that pulls those who want the information versus pushing it out to everyone whether they need it or not. Take a second and fill that out. Next up is group chats, which I have a lot of, so get clear on what your group chats are for. Is it to stay in touch and catch up socially with your teammates? Is it for updates on a project? How you structure this group will determine the settings that you use and how people use it. For example, I have a social chat group with some of my colleagues, it's just for fun. It's completely acceptable to mute the notifications and pop in informally, instead of receiving ping after ping on my devices. But I am in another group with a client which is discussing an ongoing project. For that group, I'll keep my notifications on, but I told the client that unless it's an emergency, I'll only answer within my working hours. The possibilities here are endless and that's the point. It's about finding the balance that works for your team. Go ahead and fill out all of the different group rules. The last section is about who needs to know what. I have seen teams go through a list of current projects and determine who needs to be included in meeting invitations, updates, email, sparing their colleagues from unnecessary email charter. Once you've filled out this part of the sheet, we're ready to move on to the next step which tackles meetings and the calendar. 5. Creating a Calendar Strategy : Now, I want us to talk about the calendar. The calendar is one of the most misunderstood and underutilized productivity tools that exist today. Taking some time to clarify how you'll use it will help your team be more efficient, more productive, but also happier. Because if you're like most companies I've worked with, you might have noticed that people are spending so much time in meetings that they're not getting the opportunity to actually do deep work, and this has been made worse with the rise of remote work, with research showing that teams are spending more time in meetings than ever before. Now, this part of the sheet that we're going to work on together is designed to help you rethink how you use your calendar in relation to your team's meeting culture. We're going to fill it out together, but remember, you don't have to fill out every single section of this document. I'm just walking you through your options so you can find the solution that works best for you and for your team. The first step is to look at your default meeting time and figure out what the meeting time should be. Now, you'd be shocked at how many people just book a 60-minute meeting because that's the default setting. But more and more companies are taking a hard look at this default and wondering if they should change it to something else. What if the default was 30 minutes or 45 minutes? Meetings are one of those things that can fill up as much time as they are given. Figuring out a default time is a really great way to become more efficient and gain back some of your time. But you'll want to do in this little box is make a list of your meetings and see if the duration makes sense. Should that 60-minute meetings stay at 60 minutes, should it be 40 minutes, should it be 30 minutes? Just go through the list and figure it out. By reducing the default meeting time, you'll reduce the number of hours people are forced to be in meetings, which everyone will thank you for. You might have to experiment with time duration because it might take people a few meetings to get the hang of it. If you are trying something new, give yourself a few weeks to settle and to see if you need to make changes or not. I am not here to tell you what length your meetings should be. I'm just suggesting that we take a look at our existing meetings and makes sure that the timing works and supports your company and what you're trying to accomplish. This is especially true for remote meetings specifically because Zoom fatigue is real, and back-to-back video calls is exhausting. Another great question to ask in the default section is could this meeting be an email? You will not believe the number of times I've sat in a meeting that should have been a three-line email. I think we're so used to meetings as a regular part of office life that we rarely take a step back and say, "Hey, is there a better way to give everyone this information that they need?" Now that you've figured out your new defaults, let's move on to the meeting policies which are the best practices that we're going to agree to put in place to make sure that our meetings run as smoothly as possible. For example, you can set a policy that every scheduled meeting has to have an agenda. You can look at your team constraints and you can say we are not scheduling meetings earlier than 10:00 AM or later than 4:00 PM. You can say we would like meetings to be scheduled to give people at least 24 hours in advance. You have so many different options. You can even choose which meetings are camera optional because as I mentioned earlier, video calls can be draining so you can reduce the amount of time people are on-camera and that can help them stay energized. Some companies are even experimenting with a maximum cap of how many hours you can be in a meeting per day to give people the chance to actually sit down and do deep work. Other companies are introducing entire meeting free days to encourage their teams to focus on working without distractions. For example, you can say Wednesdays is a meeting free day. Anything that you want is possible here. So really think about what would help your team. Once you've done that, I want us to talk about buffers, which is this last little box right here. How are you going to design your meetings to give people the chance to go to the bathroom or to take a short break? Because we often don't give ourselves enough time to think about what we've just discussed in a meeting, and we're so busy jumping from call to call to call that we miss an opportunity to absorb and process what we've learned and even to have a glass of water. One suggestion I always have for clients is to build in buffer time, especially if your company favors 60-minute meetings. In a 60-minute meeting, you'd say something like we're going to dedicate the last 10 minutes to taking a break, jotting down important points of the meeting, getting hydrated, you get the picture. Now, this is a great way to design for recovery, which reduces the rate of burnouts. You can put that right here. So 60-minute meeting, 50 minutes, etc. Whatever you decide the important thing is is that you're taking the time to clarify how and when your team meets, in order to make sure that it's aligned with your goals. Once you fill this out, your sheet should look something like this. Now remember, this is an iterative process not assigned contract. You might find that you thought 30 minutes was enough, but you actually needed 45. That's okay. Go back, readjust and try again. The important thing here is that we are proactively looking at our meetings as tools to help promote deep work and reduce burnout. 6. Expecting the Unexpected : Putting a digital charter in place is all fine and good, but it won't be helpful if it falls apart at the first emergency or unexpected occurrence. But fear not, there is a section that addresses this specifically and that's what we're going to focus on in this lesson. You're going to need the digital team charter emergency response form. Now again, this might seem basic or obvious, but you'd be surprised at how smoothly everything runs when there are clear protocols in place. We're going to be focusing on two things. First, we need to agree on what to prioritize, and two, we need to decide on what the plan of action is when an emergency does arise. Let's talk about the hierarchy of urgency. Now, we know not all messages or notifications are created equal. A message from a colleague about a time-sensitive project doesn't have the same priority as a company-wide email congratulating a colleague on a promotion. There are clearly some messages that have a higher priority than others, so the key in filling this out is to make sure that everyone agrees on how and what we define as important. In this section, we're going to be filling in what message or messages are the most important to prioritize. For example, you could say messages sent from your manager or from the CEO, you can identify specific projects or events that have a set deadline. One best practice that you could use is you can agree to put a time response in the email subject line. For example, if I put 5:00 PM in brackets that I need an answer to this brief, you'll know that you have the whole day versus if I say I really need an answer by (11:00 AM). Most of us still tackle emails chronologically or as they come in, but this isn't actually efficient at all. By setting a clear hierarchy of urgency, we can tackle our inboxes in a way that makes sense to ensure that we don't miss important information. Once everyone is clear on what the priorities are and how we're going to signal them, we can move on to the next step, which is how do we handle emergencies and urgent requests? We all know that unexpected things inevitably come up, so how can we handle them without panicking? First, we need to get everyone on the same page about what constitutes an emergency because this is why when everybody's clear on what an emergency is, we all know what they need to do in order to jump into action. A work emergency is defined as an important time-sensitive issue that requires immediate attention. Go through some of your previous team scenarios to see what people have considered an emergency in the past and see if you would still agree or if we need to tweak the definition a little bit. For example, what if the company's website goes down? It's that an emergency? What if a social media account gets hacked? Is that an emergency? What about a colleague who needs access to a document? This one is a bit tricky because it really depends on your team and your company, and you'll have to decide what can wait and what can't. In response to an emergency, one policy recommendation that I would have for people is to call your colleague on the phone if there is an actual work emergency. The phone will get someone's attention faster than group chats and emails. You can decide who's responsible for what project, you can decide when they're expected to be on call and you can decide how you're going to reach them and fill all of that out on this form. Now this is really important because once people know when they're supposed to be on call or when they're expected to be available, that can make a difference when you need a fast response in case something goes off the rails. This also allows people to be able to step away from their devices without jeopardizing their work commitments. You also would want to think in the section about an escalation process for your team. Let's just say something goes wrong, you call the emergency contact, what then? Whose sign off do you need if you need to escalate? When do you need to contact your manager? Really take your time to figure out this plan because once you've filled it out, it should look something like this. You've got all the important parts here and once you've done that we're almost done creating the charter. There's just one last piece to go. 7. Communicating Your Boundaries: Now that we've put all of these pieces together and have done all this work, it's time to create the final step, which is your personal availability overview. This is a short statement that you can add to your email signature that puts everything we've talked about so far into practice. Now you're not going to send everybody a copy of this document, so you'll want to communicate your policies and boundaries to colleagues on other teams or to external clients. Now think about it this way, when you receive an out of office response from someone, you know that there's going to be a delay in response and you're usually fine with that. But many people don't communicate their constraints when they're in the office, so a statement can go a long way to help manage expectation and reduce frustration. Now this statement will vary from person to person, but generally it will contain the following three elements. First up is your responsiveness window. This is when someone can expect to hear from you. For example, you can say something like, I check emails at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:00 PM and I will respond before the end of business day, or I'll respond to your email in one business days, or my usual response time to emails is this, or you can expect a response from me by this and this date. Go ahead and fill this out with whatever makes the most sense for you and your team. The second element is how someone can reach you in case of an emergency. Remember we know what an emergency is, so now we just need to be really clear as to how someone can reach you. It's something as simple as, please call this number in case of an emergency or if your request is time-sensitive, please contact person X. Go ahead and fill that out here. The last element gives people permission to take time to respond to you, so in case you send them an email that is outside of their working hours. For example, you can just write something like, I work flexible hours, and if you receive this email outside of your normal business hours, please feel free to respond on the following business day. You can fill that out right here. I found that most people are quite reasonable. The annoyance we feel with emails and the frustration that we have from digital communication usually comes from not knowing when you're going to get a response. This personal availability overview statement, it eliminates the ambiguity, gives the person clarity, and gives them a way to reach you if they feel like it's truly important. 8. Making the Changes Stick: Once your team has agreed upon the charter, print the document and sign it altogether. Place it somewhere where you can see it or pin it in your digital channels. Signing it means that you all agree to adhere to the norms that have been described. There is something empowering and amazing about making a commitment as a team, but you should also know that nobody's perfect and there will definitely be missteps or mistakes. Habits are really hard thing to break. Remember to be patient with each other as you create this new working team culture. One of the pitfalls you'll need to navigate is how addictive technology has become. As you start to implement these practices, you might find that you need to adjust your own behaviors. For example, if you're having a hard time disconnecting, you might find yourself answering emails at all hours of the day and night or responding to messages even on your off hours. This is normal. A charter takes time, and it will definitely take time for the changes to stick. But a key success factor is in agreeing upfront that you will hold each other accountable in a kind and compassionate way. Burnout is on the rise and our digital tools are partly to blame. If you also see colleagues responding to messages in their off hours, consider a gentle message encouraging them to sign off and to rest. Point to the charter, use it as a source of support. You'll be surprised that you will also encounter your own resistance, leftover adrenaline from thinking that every email was urgent and important and every notification requires your attention, but be deliberate with how you use your devices and be sure to talk to your team frequently, especially if you or other people on your team are continuing to overwork. You'll definitely have to revisit the definitions of urgency, but stay committed to the end goal. The goal here is to create a working environment with the least amount of stress possible, and where your team feels connected, heard, and understood. One more thing, your work isn't done just yet. The world is changing and your charter will need to change too. Check this little schedule to review box and add a quarterly check-in to go over the charter and see if you want to change anything. For example, you might have realized that something you defined as an emergency wasn't as important and you have new priorities in place. During these meetings, you can ask what's working, what's not working, and what specifically do we want to change? Go over each section of the document together and assess if it can stay the same or if adjustments need to be made. You might need to tweak the emergency response or change how you use IM or group chats to better suit your team's purposes. But either way, know that this document is meant to be a dynamic and evolving asset that's designed to help you adapt and thrive in whatever environment you find yourself in. Schedule a review, sign and date it, and guess what? Your charter is done. 9. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you now have your very own digital charter. Good job on filling in the entire document. I hope it will help you establish working policies that are designed to prioritize the well-being of you and your team all over the world. Did you know that you can use a version of this document with your family and friends? It's true. Maybe not the full version, but in my own family and friend groups, we have had specific conversations about things like reply times, and what to do in an emergency, and what is an emergency? I find having clear expectations around things like this really reduces the tension and increases communication. For example, in my own family, even though we use WhatsApp for a family chat, in case of a real emergency, the agreed upon protocol is to send a text message, not a WhatsApp message, a text message, because my phone will prioritize those messages and will make a sound even in the middle of the night. Now, this is an important distinction because our WhatsApp group is just social chatter and we live in different time zones and I'd be pretty annoyed to be woken up at 2:00 a.m. because someone took a picture of their dog. I mean, this is something that is really important to me, I got to get my sleep. Now, we also have a policy that if there's an emergency and you call the person but don't reach them, you send a text message explaining the situation immediately. I cannot stand walking out of a meeting and seeing that I've missed 28 phone calls from my dad and not knowing what's going on. It's little things like this that can add so much clarity and help improve your digital communication experiences and your relationships. I hope you've enjoyed this class and that you've walked away with a documented asset that will make your daily digital life much better. I cannot wait to see your projects, comments, and questions. Feel free to reach out and check out some of my other classes on Skillshare and connect with me on social media.