Why An Open-Door Policy (Literally) Is Essential For Business Success


Whether you’re new to the startup world or have a few employees and steady revenue under your belt, you’re no stranger to the concept of workplace culture. Even remote companies have unique ways of building culture and encouraging employee interaction and involvement. Workplace culture helps bring out the best in employees, and today’s businesses are striving to cultivate the best possible workplace environments.


To contribute to their own workplace cultures, countless CEOs and managers cite an “open door policy.” There are different ways of incorporating an open-door policy: for some, it’s merely a standard voiced and written understanding that the head of the organization is always available for communication. But when taken literally, it takes this premise to a new level.


Demonstrates Leadership

CEOs around the world are incorporating an open door policy in their offices and overall workplace culture. When Charles Phillips took the helms at Inform, he built a new door-less headquarters office. A monitor that occupies an entire wall plays the corporate music playlist, which employees can add to. Any employee is welcome to step into the office for a visit.


On the other hand, WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg doesn’t believe that you necessarily need an office at all, choosing to eliminate all doors that are barriers to autonomy and the work-life balance. In an interview with Inc. magazine, he explained how his 400-person team, spread around across more than 30 countries, uses a blogging platform to communicate openly and consistently, and rarely resorts to email.


Creates A Communication Funnel

The primary purpose of an open-door policy is to encourage communication among your staff. With an open door, it shows that you’re serious about your “open door policy.” This eliminates the stress that may arise from clearly defined boundaries of the traditional “chain of command.” This way, any feedback or issues an employee might have would easily be open discussion for a conversation. Of course, most employees would email their manager to shed light on serious topics, but an open door (or no door) makes that manager or CEO feel much more approachable and susceptible to listening to what they have to say.


Builds Trust

An open-door policy develops trust. Everything is out in the open, and the person in charge has nothing to hide. Like other employees in the area, all conversation is in earshot. For personal or confidential business matters, there’s always the conference room or alloted phone booth rooms. By building trust, you strengthen your organization.


When people in a business environment trust one another, they spend less time speculating over office politics and debating hierarchy responsibilities, roles, and relationships. The burden of this is alleviated when there’s a certain level of transparency, making people feel comfortable in their seats and trustworthy of their neighbor and manager.


Creates An Inviting Environment

When your door is open to your staff, it creates an inviting environment and builds an openness. This demonstrates that the manager truly wants to be involved in the daily goings-on of the office and cares about fostering relationships with their employees.


Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, published an article on LinkedIn describing the importance of an open-door policy in his organization and how it creates an inviting environment and makes it easier to solve problems. He said, “The reason I lead with an open door is it is imperative to my success. If I don’t hear from every employee or the one’s that have something to say, then I don’t have a pulse on the way my company works. Whether it’s positive or negative, I need to know.”


Increases Employee Engagement

When communication comes easier, so does engagement. Offices with open door policies tend to have more informal conversations that not only boost company morale, but help get things done quicker. Managers who keep their doors closed too often will quickly discover that they’re out of tune with with their staff, and that decrease in involvement hinders internal engagement.


Closed doors can also thwart creativity and quick progress. For example, if a member of your staff has a quick question or idea, they’re able to convey it faster when they can stop by your desk. This allows you to have more face-to-face interaction. Even in urgent situations, employees are often hesitant to knock on the door. Keep this in mind as you design your office layout.