The Infrastructure series will posted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of November 2011 (except the week of Thanksgiving).
Economics, access and virtual based work have added new complexities to challenges already in play, often creating silos and drama. The changes impact not just the mechanics of infrastructure, but also the culture of the company.
Companies where everyone has the opportunity to see others and interact within a defined work day are now rare. Rarer still are those that have not been impacted by the 24 x 7 world of information, communications and faux engagement. Our receptors are multi-channel through broadcasts, video, web data, social media, print, chats, email, texting and, of course, phones. The bottom line is that there is a lot of sending and receiving with little validation of impact, interest or importance, let alone acceptance. Few channels actually communicate in a two way exchange, but in most cases communicate at you.
Your company probably built methodologies to have real two way internal communications through tools like performance reviews, training, and status checks. There were less formal, but important, conversations that took place in the break room, over a cup of coffee or lunch. There was a way to have a sense of the pulse, direction and potential challenges with a personalized touch.
The silos are created as the most interactive conversations are often between “me, myself and I” in an environment where work is nearly solitary. The drama comes in both the abundance of communications and the lack of interaction and culture to position thoughts, fear, reality, pride, opportunity, teamwork and being needed. Round the clock communications and accessibility have changed the work day with implied instant response requirements and little work-life balance. Active imaginations have every opportunity to process the situation in near isolation. The drama will often erupt out of the realm of manageable internal communications.
The communications assault and virtual workplace will not be going away anytime soon, so it is imperative that company owners and managers address internal communications and virtual culture as an integrated part of their infrastructure. Within this challenge there is an opportunity to build new strengths, strategies and competitive advantages so that silos have connectivity and drama has a channel.
Questions you may want to ask in order to evaluate the impact on your internal communications infrastructure might include:
- Does my company have an inclusive or exclusive culture when it comes to the virtual worker?
- How do we reach into the silo and engage as a work community?
- How do we know if the drama is building and what are the relief valves?
- Do we truly engage everyone or simply spew information at them?
- What is the assurance that the information and communications we send are received and engage the talent, skill and feedback needed?
- How do we ensure that we are not the problem in a worker finding balance in work and life?
- How do we make everyone feel valuable in the company?