by Jonathan Margolis
My older son started Middle School this year and one of the many differences from lower school is that several of his teachers offer their students “office hours.” Often during lunch or recess (not exactly times anyone really wants to miss), students can pop in and ask the teacher a question about a past homework assignment or an upcoming exam.
When my son eventually stopped by his math teacher’s office he was slightly surprised to find so many of his classmates there as well. So much so, there wasn’t even time for the teacher to meet with everybody that showed up.
I started thinking if teachers are doing this to make themselves more accessible to their students, could the same apply to the workplace? While this may, of course, vary from agency to agency, I found myself wondering does senior leadership make themselves available enough to the team? Could we do more, and would the group benefit from it? With that in mind, I recently implemented our own version of “Office Hours” here at MAG. Each week I post a schedule on the fridge in the kitchen letting the team know which senior member will be available for an hour that day and where in the office they would be located.
The team is then encouraged to come by to talk about anything on their mind. It could be to help with a budget, hold a quick brainstorm, or talk about what they did over the weekend. While I am thankful my senior team was super supportive of the initiative, I don‘t think any of us knew how this experiment of mine would turn out.
Suffice it to say it’s a huge hit. Turns out even though our doors are open a majority of the day, entering an office maybe comes with some hesitation, whereas walking over to a table or couch seems to come much easier.
Perhaps this can be filed as a professional New Year’s resolution, making an effort to be more accessible. Or maybe it goes back to one of experiential marketing’s key objectives, doing things that haven’t been done before, at least not in your office.
Because every blog loves a list, here are my Top 5 ways to help improve the flow of communication and cooperation in the workplace.
- Make time for the team.
Whether it be via office hours as described above, or simply making sure the door to your office is open and inviting.
- Share what matters.
If you read a good article in the trades, stumble upon a new blog, or see something on the street you think your co-workers would find interesting, share it, don’t spare it.
- Take that meeting.
We can all think of a client or vendor we’ve been saying we’ll get together with but never got around to actually meeting. Make this the year you see them, and maybe even take someone from the account team or a new employee who could benefit from watching a seasoned exec such as yourself catch up over coffee.
- And hold meetings of your own. (but not too many!)
One of the advantages of working in an office (as opposed to working from home) is you get to interact with the people around you. At work, the conference table is your dinner table, it’s where you meet (as opposed to at home where you eat). Hold weekly meetings and in-person brainstorms whenever possible. It not only gives people a reason to leave their desks but allows you the chance to leverage the power of your people.
- Finally, don’t listen to me.
We may be an award-winning agency with an amazing team and impressive client list, but by no means am I an expert in office communication. Take the time to read up on the subject further, invest in your communication and culture, and stay positive throughout the process.
There are countless companies that have mastered this, often landing themselves on any number of Best Places to Work lists. (In full transparency we’re happy to say we’ve made those lists as well). Communication continues to play an instrumental role in developing and sustaining a healthy and productive work environment. I’m confident any efforts put forth to build upon this will only benefit everyone involved.