One of the most important factors in any business is communication. However, there are certain things within a organization that can work to create a lack of strong interoffice communication. Company growth can be attributed to a change in protocol, as well as new and diverse hires. These are all natural progressions within a company, so while you may experience a period of turbulent interoffice communication, it is important to address these changes and update your company standards accordingly.
Office space can play a key role in interoffice communication. Where smaller offices have the opportunity to communicate openly when necessary, bigger offices are often separated by hallways and other section-dividing lay-outs.
Many companies find this a particularly difficult obstacle when they move from a small and open office to a bigger and more divided space. Take Brad Eldeen of N+FOB, a company that specializes in logistics and freight forwarding. When his company went from a small office of close-knit staff to a larger office space with additional employees, communication was skewed for quite some time. Though the transition period was rough, Eldeen and his team eventually managed to create a new system to combat the lack of face-to-face communication in this bigger space.
"The key to successful office communication starts with a clearly communicated plan."
The key to this successful change had to do with a clearly communicated plan for office interactions. One big success was the N+FOB's use of Google chat. Instead of flooding each other's inboxes with operational questions that could quickly be answered, the company switched over to Google's free instant messaging service, which in a way imitated the speed and efficiency of asking your desk-neighbor a question.
Eldeen did have a period of trial and error before his company reached this solution. Initially, N+FOB tried to flag emails into different categories within individual inboxes. This thread-view method led to Eldeen accidentally missing emails which eventually prompted the company to switch over to Gchat. Remember, your first iteration of changes may not always work out, so don't be afraid to test a bunch of different systems out until you find the one that is right for your business.
Another road block to effective interoffice communications can come in the form of generational gaps. Most companies have employees from varying age groups, and when it comes to technology and the frequency (or infrequency) of its use, age can play a major role. Where the younger members of your company may tend toward email for the majority of their interoffice interactions, older members may prefer phone calls or face-to-face drop ins – both of which could be less effective forms of communication depending on the scenario.
This inconsistency can be easily fixed by creating a clear and specific code of communications. In the same vein as N+FOB, you should make sure your employees are aware of which line of communication best suits every interaction.
Angela Copeland, author of Career Corner for The Memphis Daily News, suggested using email when relaying limited but vital information such as meetings or conference calls. Phone calls or face-to-face meetings, on the other hand, might be better suited for more complicated information where key details might not be fully understood via email.
Whether Copeland's system works for you or you have created a system of your own, the key is to make sure all employees are on the same page about which communication is best suited for every interaction.
A big move or rounds of new and diverse hires aren't the only reason for restructuring communication policies. Sometimes the office just needs a little tweak. While the tips above are great for any office, we have a few bonus tips for improved communication that are worth giving a shot as well.
A good way to ensure strong interoffice conversations is to hold weekly staff meetings. Set aside an hour a week to get all employees in one place. Allow for section heads to make interdepartmental announcements and reiterate any important office-wide information that may have got lost among emails.
Along the same line SmallBizDaily, a blog for small businesses, suggested broadcasting big announcements over multiple channels. Is there a big office event? Send out calendar invites as well as a company email and remember to mention it again in big meetings. The more reminders you send out, the more likely it is that no one will miss any key information.
When you implement a clear-cut communication code, you ensure that all your employees are in sync. This can only help better your company as a whole and ensure uniform understanding of how your business operates across every department.