This summer we headed off to Birmingham to sponsor and take part in the CommsCamp unconference, where a converted warehouse played host to over 180 public sector PR, marketing and communications professionals.
Throughout the day, a common theme that emerged was of the problems with internal communications in the public sector and how these can be improved. After the event, we asked attendees to take part in a survey on intranets and you can view the results here:
More than half of the 90 respondents rated the performance of their intranet at 4 out of 10 or lower, and highlighted problems ranging from a poor search function and out of date software to a lack of buy-in from their IT department.
So what improvements can be made?
Here at dxw we embrace a number of tools to help improve communication between every member of the team. It’s because of this (plus a great mix of people!) that we recently won the ‘best place to work – SME’ award at the Digital Tech Leaders Awards.
Here are a just a few of the tools we use to communicate effectively at dxw:
What is it?
In their own words, this is ‘where work flows’. A team-messaging workspace, where everyone can collaborate.
It can be used across a wide range of devices and platforms and allows teams to chat one on one or in groups (channels) specific to a topic or project you’re all working on.
Why is it good?
Its simple interface ensures that everyone can get started without any problems. Teams can either chat via direct message or set up channels, specific to a project or task.
When new members start, it’s really simple for them to catch up on anything relevant to their job. For example, when I joined dxw, I was able to look back through the channel archives such as marketing, blogs, website content and client channels to quickly get up to speed.
Collaboration and Awareness
By joining (or leaving) a channel, you can keep up to date on work as it progresses. You may not necessarily be required for a particular project at the beginning, but want to know a) how it might affect you in the future or b) have an impact on your work. Keeping all work in one place ensures no one is left out of any conversation.
The platform is also great for sharing files amongst teams – if you upload files from Google Drive or Dropbox, these documents are instantly searchable in Slack. You can also share anything relevant to a channel, such as online articles or events.
Because we work in an agile way we start each day with a stand-up meeting, where each member of the team gives a quick run-through of what they’re going to be doing that day.
Some agile teams also do a quick recap of what you’d done the day before, and flag up anything that might be blocking your progress, but we’ve found the ‘what’s next’ approach to work well for us.
Make sure you stay standing up to keep everyone’s attention – and keep the stand-up brief – no more than 5-10 minutes.
At dxw we have several projects running alongside one another – from work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to local government projects. Each week the Delivery Manager on each project writes up ‘Week Notes’ that are shared amongst everyone. These ensure everyone in the company knows what work has been done, what’s happening next and if there are any problems with a given project.
Each week the heads of our various teams (e.g Head of Strategy, Head of Commercial Operations etc) get together to share what’s been happening in their departments.
We also have frequent catch ups within teams so that everyone is aware of what is happening throughout all stages of an internal or external project – whether it be bidding for a new piece of work, presenting at an event or sharing successes, such as winning a bid or an award.
Our blog allows us to tell the world what we’ve been up to – whether that be events we’ve attended, new clients we’ve taken on or just interesting articles we think might have an impact on our clients or those working in public sector. We’re also about to start our monthly newsletter which will include much of this, plus we’ll be offering special access to events and workshops run from our Hoxton Square office in London.
Company Retrospectives and the Annual Retreat
Each quarter we get together for a company ‘retrospective’ to take a look at the work we’ve all done over the last three months and see what went well and what we need to improve on. From this, we’re able to celebrate our successes and pinpoint where we need to focus our efforts for the next three months.
Added to this, once a year we head off for a couple of nights for an off-site to get away from our desks and day-to-day working environment to take a look back at the year and again see what we can improve about how we work together. These retreats help us to focus on our team and our mission and set goals for the future.
From these retrospectives and the annual retreats and with the help of the whole team, we’ve been able to put together what we call the dxw Playbook, which outlines our mission, values, the ways we work and most importantly, the work we’re doing.
It can be hard to adopt new ways of working in huge publicly funded organisations and one of the challenges is a lack of internal communications. These agile concepts and tools are quick to implement and once embedded, make the work of improving other areas of the business more collaborative and fluid.