How do I run a virtual “open door” policy?

This is an answer to a question submitted to the “Ask me anything (AMA)” program. This AMA channel is designed to support you get clarity to business/tech questions you may have. Periodically, I select a particular response that we feel can benefit the broader community.

This question is typically related to modern Work From Home (WFH) setups when your team is distributed globally:

  • Lead by example.
  • Reach out and talk to your direct reports daily. Message a good morning, afternoon or evening as needed. (Lets them know you are always thinking about them).
  • Remind them that they have a direct line to you and care about issues and challenges. Remind them their challenges are your challenges, and you are there to enable them. (Remove mental barriers that you are too busy for them).
  • Let them know WHICH ARE THE BEST TIMES to talk to you. I generally let my teams know that I prefer team time in the morning and general meetings in the afternoon. This means you are also telling them the best time to reach out so that while you have an open policy, it lets them know when you are focused or distractable.
  • SHARE YOUR CALENDAR…….Let them check in on what type of meeting you are in to determine whether they can message or call you.
  • Let them know they can message.
  • If you do not reply, it means you are in a no interrupt meeting.
  • If you do, you will let them know whether this is best done via a zoom/teams call or can be resolved by chat.
  • Either way, the message here is that they reach out and get a reply.
  • Pick a time in your calendar (at least twice a week) to intentionally reach out to, say 4 people who are not in your direct report and 4 who are not in your department too (build bridges within and cross-functionally).

Another way I did too was Zoom/GoToMeeting and Teams. Create a session and open it (a scheduled meeting with the same URL that does not change). Publish it to your direct reports or the people you want to reach quickly. Could you open it and work from there when you are not in alternative meetings? This way, you are working online, and if anyone wants to walk in, they walk into the zoom session and start talking and interacting.

I notice emerging tendencies to do that across other forms of communities:

Then you have more sophisticated systems. I never tried this one but seems intriguing to at least try it out. I do not think it would survive the test of time but who knows….:

NOTE: Views are my own, based on my observations and experiences. I believe in productive discourse and welcome opportunities to refine my understanding through discussion. Comment in the comments area below or reach out on hi@andremuscat.com

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Andre Muscat

Andre Muscat

Exploring the world of business technology to work out what what’s really happening, what actually matters, and what it means. | www.andremuscat.com