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E-meetings engage all DreamHost employees in corporate decision-making
Constant flow of e-mail dialogue empowers staff at web-hosting company

E-mail meetings where employees can discuss corporate strategy are ensuring that every staff member at DreamHost has a democratic communication forum where their ideas and thoughts are heard.

The practice of providing e-mail lists — which take on the form of meetings and can be accessed by every employee — has helped the Brea, California-based web-hosting company empower staff members in all aspects of decision-making and corporate dialogue, says Dallas Kashuba, one of DreamHost’s four managing partners.

The idea is straightforward, he explains.

E-mail lists relating to company matters are split into different categories and sent to employees. Messages are then exchanged internally amongst employees and the management team with the aim of fostering strong corporate communication.

This system began when the company was in its infancy and there were only a handful of employees. Due to DreamHost’s small size at the time, the management team felt there was no need to have formal, face-to-face meetings.

“When we first started 11 or 12 years ago we didn’t even have offices, so it made sense to do everything over e-mail,” says Kashuba.

“Anyone at any level in any part of the company can be in which ever list they want and see everything, so it’s democratic in that everything is fully out in the open and everyone has a voice if they choose to.”

And while the company has expanded to include about 80 employees in three offices in Southern California, e-mail meetings remain a practice which continues to work.

Brett Dunst, who has been a DreamHost employee since 1999, characterizes the e-mail lists as a series of “ongoing meetings.”

Dunst says he has found the system to be a valuable engagement tool, which has been an asset to the company and to each employee.

The e-mail forums get a lot of input from management and staff members from all areas of the company, he says.

Providing everyone within the company access to the e-mail lists, he adds, has been an excellent mechanism for empowering people, and one that receives strong employee support.

“A lot of major business decisions are really discussed on those lists before we make any final, permanent decisions,” he says. “It really is a good way to get feedback from pretty much anybody in the company.”

DreamHost is one of 25 worldwide companies placed on the 2008 WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces.

WorldBlu is an Atlanta-based company specializing in organizational democracy.

More information on DreamHost can be found on the company’s website www.dreamhost.com.

More information on WorldBlu can be found at www.worldblu.com.

— More to come

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