Online Conduct

From Sustainability Methods
Type Team Size
Collaborative Tools Software Personal Skills Productivity Tools 1 2-10 11-30 30+

What, Why & When

This article represents helpful guidance for personal conduct (i.e. how you should behave) in online spaces such as video conferences or group chats. While good manners should be mostly the same as in the analogue world, some things are different anyhow. For a more general guide on group behavior, please refer to the entry on Code of Conduct.


  • Ensure good communication online.
  • Foster a respectful environment.


Below you will find some guidance regarding personal conduct in video conferences and group chats. In general, do make sure to pay attention to your language. This includes not only being polite, but also being aware of who can read the language you're typing in.

Video Conferences

The following guidelines should be respected in online video conferences with tools such as Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams or Skype.

  1. Before or at the beginning of every video conference, a moderator is nominated. He*she is responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules. He*she is especially responsible to look for requests to speak.
  2. All participants mute their microfone when joining a conference call. The microphone will solely be activated when the moderator gave allowance to speak and will be muted immediately afterwards.
  3. To request to speak, use the possibilities of the video conferencing software. Typically, there is a chat or "Raise hand" function at your dispoal.
  4. Audio transmission is to be prioritized. This means:
    1. Use headsets with a built-in microphone.
    2. Do not turn on video if unnecessary.
  5. Good practice for offline meetings should especially be followed in online meetings due to the limited possibilities of interaction. This refers especially to:
    1. Have an agenda including time-boxed agenda slots.
    2. Nominate a keeper of the minutes at the beginning. He*she will summarize the meeting at the end.
    3. Only discuss topics that are relevant for all participants. Individual consultations should happen before or after the meeting, or - if need be - using the private chat function or mail during the meeting.

Group Chats

The following guidelines especially apply to tools such as Rocket.Chat, Slack or Microsoft Teams.

  1. Be aware of the size of your audience. Many people might be able to read what you write and/or get notified.
  2. Use the built-in thread function (!). I can't stress this enough. Using threads makes communication structured and helps everyone keep an overview. Mindlessly writing directly into the chat windows clutters the chat history and makes everyone sad. A thread is when you directly answer to a chat message so that answers get grouped beneath the original message. The button for a thread typically appears when you hover your mouse over the message you want to reply to. It's usually a small speech bubble.
  3. It's okay to use punctuation and proper spelling in chat. It really helps your readers make sense of what you're writing.

Links & Further Reading

The author of this entry is Matteo Ramin.