Like a lot of small businesses we started out small. And by small, I mean really small. My business partner and I both worked full-time for other companies and worked on our new venture in our spare time.
Eventually we both went full-time and over time we hired people and moved into an office.
When you only have a couple of staff communication internally isn’t really an issue. Everyone is in the same office space. If the company’s doing anything everyone is going to know about it.
Employee feedback isn’t an issue, communications work fine.
Fast forward 12 years and things are a bit different.
We now have around 40 staff and contractors working for us from several locations and countries. Even within our main office the staff are spread physically across two floors.
And as the staff numbers have grown the quality of internal communication has degraded.
I’ve been aware of this issue for some time, but we’ve been busy working on a lot of different things so it kind of got pushed to one side. But now we’ve decided to focus some energy and effort into fixing this. It’s a silly problem to have!
Internally staff work a lot from their email, depending on their team, but they also work a lot with our helpdesk software. For day to day communication we all use jabber. Quite a few of our staff are active on Twitter, but not all of them are. Facebook is used by a lot of them, but several have decided to stop using it or only use it sporadically.
So what is the best way to handle internal comms? I asked around …
From the feedback I got from a variety of people it seems that we aren’t alone. And how companies have tried to address the issues do vary quite a bit.
A more “old school” approach being used by some companies is to print stuff out and post in places employees are likely to see it, including the bathrooms!
Emails seem to provoke mixed reactions, with some people saying that they love them, while others say nobody ever reads them.
Internally one of our staff suggested using SMS. Since everyone has a mobile phone this is a pretty good idea, though with only 160 characters you’re a bit limited!
So what are we going to do?
At the moment I’m not 100% sure, but I suspect we’re going to adopt a hybrid approach and combine a few different things. Maybe some things will work well and some won’t, but we need to try and see what happens.
We’re already using our company blogs to communicate with our clients, partners and prospects. So a lot of the information is already being shared. Of course we don’t put out on a public facing blog the kind of things that are very much “internal”. If we’re organising an event for staff or need to announce training or various other internal things we’re currently doing it via email. But we all get way too much email already!
I suspect this will be something we experiment with over the coming months.
Wish us luck!