How to Effectively Set Team Norms

Two people setting team norms in an abstract depiction of gears in space.

Table of contents

By definition, team norms are simply the way a team works together. That is through team collaboration on a project, brainstorming meetings, or lunch banter. Norms are a set of spoken and unspoken rules everyone follows. Knowing this, you might be wondering how to set team norms!

Also known as work norms, they shape how everyone on the team interacts day-to-day, which according to Wrike, boosts productivity and a stronger sense of accomplishment.

How a team interacts is super important for its success and can have a negative impact if done wrong. 

That’s why laying down clear and healthy norms can make a huge difference in workplaces.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of team norms and how they can help you positively change the way you interact with others. Remember, each team is unique, so keep an open mind!

Team norms look different in the modern workplace!

Find out more in the 2024 Workplace Flexibility Trends Report.

Access The Report
Woman working and sitting at a desk.

How are team norms created?

These norms can pop up naturally through regular interaction, through company changes, and even come about unexpectedly. 

It can be difficult to envision what team norms look like in broad terms. So, let’s dive into some team norms examples!

Organic interactions

Imagine you’re standing next to the coffee machine with your two favorite coworkers. You begin to chat about the weekend, and then switch to a chat about upcoming work. 

Then, over time, it becomes routine. Every morning you share your upcoming work, maybe explain how you can help them, and there you have it. A new norm is created.

And this is just one of countless ways that team members interact at work. Maybe you set up a brainstorming session one Wednesday and it sticks around. Now it’s a habit that increases productivity.

Policy change

Aside from organic interaction, company policies affect how teams interact.

For example, a company may encourage team members to chat for a few minutes before meetings and expect everyone to be there within 2 minutes of starting. Or, you have to share a meeting agenda at least a day before every meeting. 

Even the policy to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is a company norm. These hours are expected and (usually) followed. 


Now, although some norms are day-to-day habits, some surprise us and start from new circumstances. Like, a pandemic for example.

Workplaces around the world had to readjust the bases of communication because everything changed so quickly. Team communication had to shift from in-person to remote, and team norms became a whole lot different. 

However, you don’t need an event as jarring as a pandemic to change work norms. 

A list of common team norms found at TechSmith.

How do you know when it’s time to change your company norms?

Change looks different for every company and every employee, but it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. After all, communication is key.

Most importantly, team leaders need to know they are good at listening and problem-solving at the same time. That way, the team can move forward with healthy changes.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

A recent TechSmith study found that 74% of teams have not established norms to provide clarity on how they will work as a team. Additionally, 76% have not established norms to ensure that meetings are effective and inclusive. 

Statistic: Nearly three-quarters of companies have not established team norms or meeting norms, trained their managers in managing a distributed team, or adopted best practices for how they work across distances.

And that’s a huge issue.

Without clear expectations on how a team communicates, how can they be expected to thrive?

They can’t, which means it’s time for a change. When there is miscommunication, unaligned collaboration, and tense conversation, team norms will need to be adjusted. 

Another tell-tale sign that a team needs new norms is frequent complaints. It doesn’t matter if they are about missed deadlines, confusing projects, or ineffective teamwork, complaints need to be taken seriously.

So, you know it’s time for a change. Let’s establish some healthy norms!

Establishing team norms for everyone

To create team norms, group members need to be listened to and heard. You are creating a work environment where everyone can speak freely without fear of criticism by others.

Once you’ve established a safe space, try to find common themes in issues. 

For example, a team member complains about ineffective meetings, another about long, confusing emails, and another about constant work interruptions. What do these have in common? 

Communication isn’t clear and organized. 

An easy solution for these complaints would be to implement visual communication. Instead of overbearing emails and meetings, use screenshots or quick videos to explain what’s needed.

In fact, a recent TechSmith study found that while some respondents are hesitant to make video messages, when asked what type of email they would prefer to receive, respondents chose ones with video or images 75% more than those with just text.

Additionally, 42% of respondents believed video messaging could replace over a quarter of their meetings!

Statistic: Nearly seven in ten respondents use video messaging sometimes or often. Another 22% are interested in trying it.

Even though these complaints seem unrelated, you can see that there is actually a common solution. Those broad solutions are your friend.

Norms are not difficult, they just need to be implemented clearly. Vague norms are difficult to understand, so it’s important to be clear when you establish them.

Now, let’s check in

Applying team norms is more easily said and done. The hard part is keeping up with those changes and tracking their success. As we mentioned, if your new norms are not easily understood, they will be difficult for your team to see through.

Create an accountability schedule to document, like a team charter. Every two weeks, or whenever works best for your team, gather feedback from everyone. 

Again, acknowledge the situation and create a safe space for honest, open feedback. Most importantly, team members feel comfortable to speak up.

Feedback is important to create a clear picture of what worked and what didn’t. By making tweaks you’ll be able to change your work norms to best reflect your team’s needs. 

Get more insights on when, where, and how people work, and how you can make a difference.

Read The Report
People adding events to a larger-than-life calendar background.

According to, team norms help give your employees a sense of accountability, so they feel like their hard work is being recognized by their boss and other co-workers.

And that’s all! Team norms may seem daunting at first, but creating them is super easy. We’ve even added a few examples so you can start thinking about what your team may need.