What does connection mean in your company? Is management connected with staff? Is senior leadership connected with middle management? Are people communicating across the board or do you have organisational silos?
If you have organisational silos in the office then prepare for communication black holes when you go remote. This was one of the biggest challenges we found when we started working remotely over 10 years ago. With the entire team at the time making the switch from offices to teleworking, as well as being spread all over Europe, staying in touch was the first stumbling block.
For any successful remote team, staying connected is key and usually entails culture change to increase the level of connection across the company. We’ve got a quick and simple exercise to help you understand how connected your company is.
The email test
Taken from social network analysis (SNA) - and we don’t mean Facebook posts or Instagram snaps - this is a DIY version of a key theoretical concept in modern sociology for investigating social structures through the use of networks and graphs.
Open your email client and send the following email to everybody in the company:
Please take a look at this quick survey.
Please answer the following question by just replying to me with a name, thank you:
Once you have an issue / problem / question at work you cannot solve yourself, who do you talk to?
Now sit back and wait for your mailbox to catch fire or, depending on workload, maybe get on with whatever you were doing before and give it some time to slowly trickle in.
Once you have all the answers back, get a piece of paper and pen (yes I did say DIY!) or you’re going to need a whiteboard depending on the size of your organisation, and place everyone’s name in a big circle. If you have various departments, then form multiple circles for each department.
Now draw a line from each person to the colleague they named as their go-to person for problems and questions. If you have a connected company with leaders embedded throughout the organisation and communication across all channels, then your graph should look something like this:
WAAT circa 2017
If you have a less connected company with restricted flows of communication and organisational silos, then your graph might look closer to this:
Anything like your company now?
This is a streamlined exercise that can already provide some insight into how connected your company is. The lines will highlight if communication is narrow or broad, and who are the true leaders, problem solvers and bridges between networks. Hence, it is a quick and easy starting point for assessing your internal communication.
To find out more about the changes required to your company culture and communications to work well remotely, check out How your communication needs to adapt for remote working.