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What is an open-door policy in the digital age?

What is an open-door policy how does and how does an open-door policy translate to the digital age?

What is an open-door policy?

An open-door policy, in the business sense, is a type of communication policy. Usually enacted by a manager, senior leader, director, president or supervisor. Open door policy is a communication method/policy wherein an individual will leave their door ‘open’ in order to encourage employees to come and talk to them. It is meant to engender openness, transparency and free-flowing communication in the organization. As a side note, the door is always metaphorically ‘open’. An open-door policy encourages employees to come in and ask questions whenever they feel need to be asked. An open-door policy is intended to facilitate discussion, address problems, and present queries and concerns. It is intended to create an environment of productivity, performance, collaboration, and transparency.

What is an open-door policy and how does it translate to the digital age?
What is an open-door policy and how does it translate to the digital age?

What are the benefits of an open-door policy?

There are a number of benefits associated with an open-door policy. Let’s take a quick look at the evidence:

  • An open-door policy encourages employees to bring up issues and problems easier.
  • It encourages people to bring forward suggestions.
  • Builds a transparent environment.
  • Fosters face-to-face communication.
  • Builds trust in the organization.
  • Allows employees a voice to be heard.
  • An open-door policy allows employees to receive and provide feedback.
  • Allows management to discover employee concerns.
  • Allows management to discover important insight from employees.
  • Increased clarity of communication.

How does an open-door policy translate to the digital age?

Now, when someone talks about the classical definition of an ‘open-door policy’, you immediately think of a manager’s door being transformed into a revolving door. Or perhaps slightly cornily it’s not even there, because, ‘my door is so open, it’s off its hinges’. But as we continue delving further into a digital age, how does an open-door policy translate? How do the open-door and open-office policies present themselves in the digital age?

Virtual communication is perhaps the biggest change that effects open-door policy. Virtual communication lends itself to immediacy. Immediate knowledge sharing, immediate feedback and immediate information. In fact, the effective use of virtual communication can increase productivity by 14%, by reducing the amount of time spent emailing, awaiting responses and searching for information.

Virtual communication doesn’t negate the open door policy. In fact, it makes it more efficient. If managers and leaders convey and maintain the message of openness and transparency, then employees can use virtual communication methods, like Slack, to resolve queries, ask for feedback, and share information.

Along with one to one, virtual communication lends itself to information sharing, value creation and sharing goals and principles at a company-wide level. Managers and senior leaders can share vision, information, and goals pertaining to the company to engender transparency and information sharing at a company-wide level.

An open-door policy in the digital age isn’t just about communication. It’s also about connection. Using proper virtual communication, HR software, digital meetings, and the like foster digital connection.

An open-door policy in the digital world doesn’t need to neglect all the benefits that were in the previous age. Instead, it just needs a translation to accommodate a far more digital world. Think about maintaining these benefits, how they fit in with digitalism, and how digitalism can improve them. Take transparency for example. An open-door policy fosters transparency. How can we maintain this in the digital age? For example, you could make sure that all your workplace policies are available to employees so that when they ask, all you have to do is point them to the documents online. How do you maintain employees having a voice in the digital age? Discussion boards, communicating open channels for discussion between employees and managers at an individual and group level, discussing employee thoughts with those more senior -where appropriate- and conveying responses to employees. You could even try having forums for employee and manager discussion. Remember, just because we are in the digital age, it doesn’t mean that you have to forget about an open-door policy. You can make it work.

Joseph Garvey
Joseph Garvey

Joseph Garvey

Content Team

5 minute readPublished on April 1, 2020

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