The Rise of Affordable Tech and Collaboration
How do small businesses succeed in a world where collaboration and tech are key? They look for affordable tech options and collaborative workspaces.
Ask successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to what they owe their success, and they’re likely to reply strong ambition and dedicated teamwork. Look at Hewlett and Packard, Jobs and Wozniak They all put in long hours tossing ideas back and forth, building models and tearing them down. What is amazing is that they had no technology to speak of, at least not compared to what we have today.
How could they? We wouldn’t have it either had they not succeeded in their ambitious projects. In fact, neither team had an office, not in the beginning anywhere. Like many a rock band, they worked out of a garage.
Contrast their makeshift working digs with the rambling campuses of today’s tech giants. While many view their ultramodern structures, free cafeterias and convenient transportation excessive. These, along with amenities like napping pods and ping pong tables, are actually meant to foster that same ambition and teamwork. The reason for convenient transportation and free cafeterias is to keep their employees onsite and working overtime.
Small tech companies and start-ups may envision such a future for themselves, but it is far in the offing. Many can barely afford to stay in business, let alone lease offices in state-of-the-art buildings. But they do have an option that offers employees not only a nurturing place to work, but also fosters collaboration. In fact, they have a choice of options – tech incubators and co-working spaces
Tech incubators can offer a big boost to young entrepreneurs and small businesses trying to put their innovative ideas into action. There are many programs that offer not only funding and connections to mentors and investors but collaborative work environments. Many offer these for as long as a year. Startups that are accepted to the programs get access to administrative services, shared equipment, mail services, and on-site support
While the original incubators, notably in cities like New York and San Francisco, offer physical space, newer versions offer virtual setups. Virtual incubators require startups to find their own workspaces but offer services like video conferencing, online lectures and programming. Some opt for minimal office space and allow employees to work remotely, using united communication functions to collaborate. Another option might be to find a co-working space.
Co-working offices are another alternative to leasing space. Also, called shared workspaces, these membership-based spaces offer communal settings for diverse groups of remote workers and freelancers. Although members work for different companies on different projects and ventures, they tend to help each other out. And since each brings different skill sets to the job, co-working spaces provide a collaborative environment. Harvard Business Review reports that people who work in shared workspaces say they
- Feel part of a community
- See their work as meaningful
- Have more job control
Like tech incubators, shared workspaces can be virtual or physical. Virtual co-working spaces come in a couple of hybridized varieties
Virtual and collaborative workplaces are tool-based environments where workers can work together in real-time. Collaborative virtual workspaces can include virtual meetings, conferences, and chats, videos, whiteboards, and other UC features
Virtual and shared workplaces are digital environments which allow colleagues to share information, tasks, workflow, and completed documents. Although they encourage collaboration, co-workers manage and access them as individuals. Popular virtual co-working platforms include Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive for documents, and Asana for task management.
Co-working spaces are no longer confined to fledgling companies. Corporations use them to provide collaborate spaces for remote teams or distributed workers to improve productivity.