3 Keys to Keeping a Virtual Open Door Policy

by Jennifer Miller on December 9, 2011

in Guest Blogger, Workplace Issues

Recently I wrote a post about what happens to employees’ brains when they cross the threshold of their workplace door. In a happy coincidence, at about the same time, I was connected to Kyle Lagunas, who wrote an excellent post on his blog about doors and workplaces: how to maintain an “open door policy” when increasingly, a leader’s door is located miles (or countries) away from their direct reports. What follows are highlights from that post, reprinted with his permission.   

By Guest Author Kyle Lagunas

The modern organization has changed – it is decentralized and increasingly, virtual. And yet, the need to remain connected to your organization continues to grow. Your employee handbook says you have an open door policy, but an open door policy is more metaphorical than factual. Employees are not seeking to enter a physical office to connect with you. They want to reach you via some communications channels you may be less than familiar with. Fortunately, even the busiest leaders can breathe some life into their open door policies by following a few rules of thumb.

Three Tips for Tweeting, Chatting, and Connecting

The rules are a bit different when you’re connecting with employees online. However, you may be surprised to find these new channels are a great (and oftentimes convenient) way to strengthen your employee relations. Novice and adepts users alike should keep these things in mind when reaching out:

Don’t be so serious. Informal check-ins are more comfortable for employees, and casual hello-how-are-you’s offer a great opportunity for leaders to engage employees. A lot of companies use chat clients for quick communications. Though some of us are more familiar with this media, others struggle to communicate effectively via instant messengers. Not to fear. If you’re not comfortable with the LOLs, OMGs, and TTYLs, don’t use them. Just keep things short and respond quickly. The point here is that you’re making yourself both available and approachable.

Choose your words carefully.Regardless of how you intend a message, interpretation can vary – especially with emails and memos. It can be difficult to find words to convey exactly what you mean, and communication is all the more challenging when you are not sitting across the table from the other person. And when it comes to electronic communications, choosing the right medium is often just as important as what you’re trying to say. If you find yourself burning bridges via email, tools likeToneCheck can be really useful.

Get your people on board.The more people you have using the same tool to communicate, the easier it is to connect with them – and the greater potential to connect with others. So it is critical that you rally your team to a common communications and collaboration platform, and make sure they use it. Over time, the value of everyone working together on one system will make it a critical part of their routine.

Interaction with a good boss is critical to realizing your full potential as an employee. With the right tools, keeping tabs on your people and your organization can become a part of your regular workflow. At the end of the day, though, you know what works best for you – and for your organization. Feel free to dabble in a few different products until you find the right one, keeping in mind that many tools are free at their most basic level.


About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice – a company that helps people find the best HR software for their organization. He blogs about technology, trends, and best practices in human resources and recruiting, and enjoys cooking for friends and family in his spare time.


For further reading, this article can be found in full on Kyle’s HR blog at: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/hr/5-tips-for-keeping-an-open-door-in-a-virtual-workplace-1120111/


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