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Brightworks Introduces Communication Guidelines for Fewer, Better Messages -- Increases Productivity and Time to Unplug


Brightworks is a digital agency employing 80+ creatives in Toronto. They needed a solution to make their communications more effective and less invasive. Ada created a custom set of guidelines that set clear boundaries and empowered staff around workplace communications.
OA Services:   icon to represent needs assessment Needs Assessment    icon to represent  guidelines Guidelines    icon to represent training Training

The Client

Corporations (particularly those in healthcare and banking) turn to Neil Follett and his marketing agency, Brightworks, when they need great strategy and design. Brightworks is an award-winning agency that delivers creative solutions for clients in Canada and the US.

The Problem

Neil came to me with the same frustrations I hear from many business owners. The email and messaging flow between his 40 staff, 40 freelancers and clients all over the continent was often ineffective, usually inefficient, and seemed to never end!

He wanted a new approach to communications. One that would cut down on unnecessary emails, set guidelines around what channels were appropriate, and most importantly, give his team the permission to disconnect. As Neil said when we first started talking about this project, "it is simply too easy to check email the instant you wake up, too easy to dash off a note at all hours, and too easy to send a note that isn't impactful."

"I want people to engage, not just email, and most importantly, I want them to know they can step away from their phones and computers to spend time with family and friends and just recharge", he said.

The OperationsAlly Solution

Neil was savvy enough to know that getting support from an expert in systems and technology would save him oodles of time - and needless stress. It was my pleasure to be his Ally and the process! Like many executives, Neil could define the problem and even frame part of the solution, but he didn't have the time or expertise to develop specific communication training and roll the protocols out to the company.

"Ada was amazing! I was able to provide an overview of the challenges we faced, and with days she would turn around with research, data, and a narrative structure the team could really get behind" said Neil.

The Results

Using my recommendations as a foundation, I worked with Neil and the Brightworks leadership team to craft guidelines that custom-fit the agencies needs.

The resulting guidelines addressed three important issues:

  1. Introduced best practices to improve the messages sent
  2. Defined appropriate and inappropriate channels for workplace communication
  3. Set expectations for when the team needed to be checking their work messages

The new guidelines help save time for everyone, clarified the right ways to communicate with colleagues and clients and got everyone on the same page.

Once the new guidelines were finalized, I prepared a one-page summary handout (to make the guidelines handy until they became a habit) and introduced the new guidelines to the entire Brightworks team during an off-site retreat. Afterward, I shared an electronic copy of the presentation and the one-page summary to help onboard new team members in the future.

Ultimately, the guidelines empower everyone at Brightworks to send fewer and better messages. In addition, the new guidelines clarify the expectations on when each person is expected to be connected and when they have permission to unplug.

photo of Neil Follett

Working with Ada was truly a pleasure. She brought deep systems knowledge that was matched only by her energy and positive attitude. I would never have been able to roll out these new guidelines without her, and I truly believe that giving our team direction on how to communicate most effectively, as well as the permission to disconnect makes Brightworks a much better place to work.

Neil Follett, President at Brightworks

photo of Ada Barlatt, Ph.D.
Author : Ada Barlatt, Ph.D.
Ada on a mission to help agencies improve how they use e-communication tools (like email, project management apps, and instant messaging apps) so they can enjoy increased productivity, profits, and life balance. Learn more about Ada.

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