Why Small Companies Benefit from the Virtual Workplace - InformationWeek
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8/14/2006
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Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
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Why Small Companies Benefit from the Virtual Workplace

Companies of all sizes are seeing benefits from enabling remote workers, but small companies in particular can reap noticeable gains and significant business transformation—quickly—when they implement a virtual workplace. There are several reasons for this:

Agility. Generally, smaller companies are more agile than their larger counterparts. This may not be due to any great effort on management’s part—it’s simply easier to turn a catamaran that it is to turn a cruise ship—but the benefits are just as real. This has two consequences for the virtual workplace. First, it can be much easier for managers and employees to “sell” the idea to executives, who are used to making business-changing decisions on a dime; and second, the agility gained from having a virtual workplace shows up faster and more clearly, reinforcing the value therein that much sooner.

Collegiality. Because of their size, smaller companies lend themselves to close-knit working groups. That doesn’t mean everyone loves everyone else, but chances are good people know each other well, and that is important for successful collaboration—especially over time and distance, and when the people involved aren’t regularly meeting face-to-face.

Technology. Smaller companies are better positioned to try new technologies, because effectively everything they do can be viewed as a pilot. Never mind needing to get approval from a corporate IT department—many small companies don’t even have an IT department. That makes it easier for managers and employees to test-drive free software applications, and to spread them quickly throughout the organization. If they work, everyone gets on board quickly; if they don’t, the time and money lost are minimal.

Growth. As smaller companies grow, they are quick to embrace anything that lets them do so with minimal pain and maximum gain. The virtual workplace does this by allowing organizations to enter new markets and geographies without enormous, facilities-related expenditures. It also enables them to attract and retain quality employees when they might not be able to competing on salary and benefits alone—the ability to work from home, or to stay in a given location even if it’s different from where a new job normally would be based, can be a huge motivator for good employees.

Of course, larger companies can see the same benefits as their smaller brethren, especially on a departmental or business-unit basis. But I always tell small organizations that they are extremely well positioned to take advantage of all the virtual workplace has to offer—just so long as they don’t lose sight of their virtual roots once they help the organization get big!

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