Why being an open workplace is the future of work

While reading a great article this week on “Why lack of communication has become the number one reason people quit”, it got me thinking. The article is great and I totally agree with the content within it. In fact I can foresee posts like this on the internet for some time i.e. saying that communication is key in a business. I don’t think that we have found the solution yet, in fact it just feels like we have gone around in circles. First it was the fact that we didn’t have any great communication tools, so there was a mad rush for companies to build these. Fast-forward 10 years and we now have an over-abundance of choice and now the problem has been introduced that we have too much choice and we have to jump between 5 different platforms at work to be able to talk to everyone. Let’s not forget that we also talk cross companies as well. Still to this day, we have that “juggle” every time we setup a meeting where we have to check if the contact has Skype? Google Hangouts? GoTo Meetings? I don’t want to bad mouth these tools, they are all fantastic. So great, we now have the ability to communicate whenever and wherever we want.

So in a world where we now have unlimited choice in communication, the lack of communication causes worry. It feels like we are not being told everything at work because we don’t see all these different tools lighting up saying “Hey Tim, Just letting you know that we have decided to delay the project by 2 weeks”. So now we have the problem of under-communication in a world where it is so easy to communicate. Great….back to square one.

I really want to emphasise one of the points in this article link above:

The best way to quash uncertainty and doubt is to keep an open flow of communication.

Bravo! I could not have put it better myself. Like the writer of this article mentions, “communication” comes in many forms and just chatting on Yammer or Slack is one form of it. “Communication” is everything we do, not just what we say and especially not in just what we publicly disclose in chat systems. So then this lends itself to the idea that a potential solution is that everything at a company is communication…..by default.

It turns into rumours, gossip, suspicion and/or resentment.

The reason I love this article above is because it is honest. Yes, I have sat there, day after day ranting about how things are terrible, people are terrible and work is terrible. 6/10 times I bet you that I was wrong, that I was saying these things without knowing the full picture. This is human, we all do it much more than we would like to admit it. Why….why do we think that this does not happen at every workplace. It does. Fullstop. Period. Why do we think this is not something that needs to be solved.

Let’s move onto productivity. When I know more, I am distracted more (potentially). I personally seem to work on a set of filters. I can take quite a lot in, but I have filters up that just ignore things that don’t seem to be a priority. By ignore them, I mean that I don’t write it down – it could subliminally be “saved”, but I don’t make the conscious decision to mark it down. However, I would honestly say that I am not overworked, I am not overwhelmed at this point with the amount of “data” – but I do know that point is coming very close for me and I need to be prepared. Rather, I seem to have 20 things to do at one time, and due to time, I do 20 things to a good level, not a great level. So honestly, does knowing more at work make me more productive? It depends. I have this personality that the more I know, the more I want to help and potentially for a workplace, this is not a good thing. BUT! (a big but). There are other solutions to manage this. In a world where I knew that everything was being noted, I know that I would shift in the way I work to a much more productive manner.

As for employee turnover. This is a tricky one. So I will answer it with a personal response. So…what would make me leave a job? To be honest, lack of communication by itself would not be enough. However it does hover around this idea of “restriction”.  If I was ever restricted in doing what I thought was the best solution then this would make me leave. “Restriction” comes in many forms and they include communication, decision making, providing the best technical solution and most importantly having the ability to “shine”.

If you take one thing from this post, it is that life is short. Let’s not let lack of communication or the inability to be “kept in the loop” ruin what could be an extremely fruitful workplace.

Team CluedIn



Tim Ward

Founder, Developer and Loudest Employee at CluedIn.

  • Jon Hilton

    So this really resonated with me. When I think back to the times I have felt frustrated at work it is nearly always because I am suspicious of the motivations/intent of colleagues/managers etc. (as you say, usually because I don’t have the full picture) and definitely suffer when feeling restricted.

    “Feeling restricted” sounds a bit arrogant but I think software development is ultimately a creative process and the license to experiment with different solutions and choose which seems best is important.

    Fostering this kind of culture is clearly tough (hence only a few well known examples get a lot of publicity e.g. Google) but it seems worth aiming for.

    Something my company is very big on is self-empowered teams. When this works well, the opportunities for under-communication are limited, at least within the team. That said there’s still the wider context (what other projects are doing, the general direction of the company etc) to focus on.

    Interesting post, thanks for sharing!