Table 2

The key issues encountered and recommendations for working together and managing stress

ThemeIssueRecommendation
Working togetherSetting and managing expectationsAn early explanation of how systems (such as Registries) work and the limits of tolerance for change of the system can set and manage expectations. Agree on the roles and responsibilities of each team member and clear timeframes for actions to be delivered.
Online/remote communicationFind and agree on the online platform to be used to hold meetings. Provide support to and be patient with those unfamiliar with the platform. If agreed, share mobile phone numbers in case the online technology fails. Consider a back-up online platform for communication if one fails. Communicate your personal email ‘style’ with others, so that people do not ‘misread’ the ‘tone’ of the emails.
Speaking different ‘academic languages’Consider creating and sharing the operational definition of terms. Consider developing an ongoing glossary of terms. Recognise the differences in how different professionals understand a term or construct.
Break-away meetingsHaving smaller, break-away meetings are beneficial to reduce the time for the full team meetings, but these need to be agreed in the full team meeting, and their remit clear. Unscheduled break-away meetings may risk team fragmentation, causing teams to split.
Version control and editorial leadershipAgreeing on how documents should be stored and modified (eg, using Microsoft Teams) will enable co-working on a single document, ensuring version control. Agreeing on who has final editorial responsibility enables issues raised by co-authors to be resolved and that everyone is working from the ‘cleanest’ possible version.
Team members becoming illAs an ongoing pandemic, with everyone being susceptible (particularly those working on the frontline), therefore, ensure early that each major task can be performed by at least one other person in the team, or have a mechanism to bring in someone new to the team to complete this.
Managing stressIndividual stress affecting team and studyBe aware that unusually high stress levels among the team are possibly inevitable and that this might make it difficult to always achieve agreements quickly. Plan for break-away meetings to iron out differences. Follow a time-limited agenda-focused meeting schedule. Be mindful of your actions and how you communicate with others. Remind yourself that everyone is working under pressure. Recognising that the tone of emails can be misinterpreted especially when sent or read in a hurry, and informing others of own email style, and agreeing on basic communication standards may be helpful. Do not delay apologising if you feel you have hurt someone.