“When a company grows to about 50 employees, it will break.”
This is something I’ve heard my CEO, Brad Palmer, say over and over. It means that when your company reaches a certain size—roughly 50 people—it begins to morph.
Brad’s an experienced leader, so I trusted him on this. What I didn’t expect to discover was that US Census data also supports his theory.
It shows that, regardless of a company’s size, it’ll have (on average) 50 employees per location. The data makes sense—you can only fit so many employees in one office. But, it’s pretty eye-opening.
In this article, we’ll delve into the challenges this can bring for a company and how a communication platform can help overcome them.
What happens when your business grows to 50 people?
When your employee base reaches around 50 people, the way in which work gets done will change.
The larger quantity of people, connections, and decisions to be made, means that processes may need to be changed. What worked for you as a smaller team most likely won't work any more.
Also, according to US Census Data, this is when you’ll likely expand into a new space.
This could be across multiple locations or simply across multiple floors in a building, but it'll have a huge impact on the way you communicate.
When you’re no longer sharing one big workspace, one kitchen, and a set of bathrooms, the fractures that happen at the 50-person mark become more obvious.
You soon lose the organic connections that come with cohabiting in one office. It’s not uncommon for each 50-person group to start operating a little bit like its own clan.
Of course, there'll still be some links between teams and the overall culture may be understood, but there are often far fewer connections with less familiarization. It’s harder work to get people together and those chance meet-ups or quick huddles are reduced.
It’s easy to see how this can start to fracture the culture, operations, and productivity.
So, how do you keep everyone connected?
When you reach the 50-person mark, you need to start thinking more intentionally about your day-to-day communications and connections.
Whether you’re in one huge office, split across several floors of a building, or spread out across the world, you need to be very deliberate about how your entire company continues to march to the beat of the same drum.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of doing this day-to-day is digitally, with a communications platform or intranet.
A good communications tool will help to keep everyone informed of important information, such as company updates and new policies, and provide a place for your culture and brand to thrive.
One 250-person company, Buckingham Strategic Wealth, described their intranet as:
“Our virtual coffee shop on the corner where we all gather to catch up. It’s where we get to know one another beyond the signature blocks, where personalities emerge, and camaraderie strengthens.”
Without a good intranet, a lot of multi-office companies simply become large groups of people who don’t know each other. The only thing they have in common is that their pay cheque comes from the same place.
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out this article on the benefits of an intranet.
A good communications platform can play an important role in keeping any company up-to-date and connected. However, when a company spreads out across multiple locations or reaches the 50-person mark (or does both), they become mission critical.