by Jake Cohen, Jo Schofield, Jack Fletcher and Suhail Hussain

 

The way we collaborate has changed.

With a lot of meetings now online, it can be harder for people to contribute effectively. This can mean some voices are not heard.

Myself and a number of colleagues have created these guidelines to help people collaborate effectively and inclusively. We want everyone to be able to contribute in a way they feel comfortable.

We think these guidelines will encourage more voices to be heard and create a space for inclusive discussion.

 

1. Give everyone the opportunity to contribute 

  • Ask people if they want to contribute.
  • Allow people to contribute anonymously or in smaller groups.
  • Check if people can access the tools you’re using, explain how to use them and offer an alternative if necessary.
  • Use visible timers and allow thinking time.
  • Use captions and transcripts where possible.
  • Consider how people could contribute outside of the meeting, in their own time.

 

2. Set clear expectations, early 

  • Send out an agenda in advance.
  • Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and the outcome you want to achieve.
  • Give a running order, include approximate times.

 

3. Give context: do not assume any prior knowledge 

  • Reiterate any information that someone would need to know to be able to contribute.
  • Give regular recaps. Consider taking notes as you go so you can easily refer back.
  • Be mindful of late joiners and the context they might lack.

 

4. Use clear language 

  • Do not use acronyms without explaining what they mean.
  • Use plain English.
  • Be mindful of people who are new to Co-op, or a team. If you use jargon, explain what you mean.

 

5. Respect people’s time

  • Book only the amount of time you need with people, and allow people to leave if they’ve contributed all they need to.
  • Plan your meeting to allow people breaks between meetings, for example 5 or 15 minutes past the hour.
  • If the meeting is long, schedule in regular breaks.

 

6. Value all contributions equally

  • Give everyone a chance to speak, do not allow one voice to dominate.
  • If you’re referencing what’s been inputted, reference contributions from a range of people.
  • Consider your audience. Be prepared to adapt your approach or process to encourage contribution from more people.

 

7. Encourage clarity, curiosity, and challenges

  • Explain how people can ask questions.
  • Encourage people to get clarity on things they do not understand.
  • Allow people to ask questions anonymously, for example by adding post-its to a collaboration board.

 


An image showing 7 posters to encourage inclusive meetings. The posters show each guideline and the guidance underneath.

Download the posters (PDF)


 

Read how we created these guidelines on the Co-op Digital blog.

View the guidelines on the Co-op Experience Library.