Wind in the Stairwells


When I worked in corporate HR communications, I arrived one morning to find an excited cluster of coworkers outside my office. “We need to send an email to everyone in the building right away! There’s wind in the stairwells!”

When I receive communications requests, I’m listening for the problem to solve. In this case, I had to ask a few questions to get to the root issue: wind in the stairwells posed a minor safety hazard for employees coming to work.

The most effective solution was to target the right people (stair takers) at the right time (shift arrival) and right place (stairwell entry) by hanging warning signs on first-floor stairwell doors. A broadcast email would have unnecessarily interrupted the majority of employees, who had already arrived and preferred the elevator anyway.

While communications challenges are rarely this simple, solving them always involves targeting the audience and delivering messages at the right time and place. Sometimes the winning strategy doesn’t include official communication channels.

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