The web provides unrivalled value if staff know how to use it.
The benefits and pitfalls of the world wide web have been heavily promoted but, for smaller, growth businesses, it presents a dilemma. If you limit use of the web within your organisation, the pundits warn that you will lose your competitive edge. If you allow unbridled access, the sceptics paint a picture of declining productivity, unhealthy influences and vulnerability to aggressive competitors. So how do you decide where to draw the line?
As with most innovations in the workplace, the web should be treated simply as another tool and your workforce should be educated in its appropriate use. The web is the most varied, flexible and cost-effective research tool to which a small business could possibly have access. Train your staff how to use the search engines and interpret their findings. Show them how to bookmark valuable sites and compile a list of authorised time-savers, such as Electonic Yellow Pages, train timetables and route planners.
Define no-go areas to limit unproductive surfing.
For problem solving or inspiration, the web provides unrivalled value for someone who knows how to use it. For creating a sense of community by sharing favourite sites and sources of great ideas, the web can inject a feeling of belonging to something at the cutting edge - a boost that could be of enormous benefit to your organisation. For building relationships with your customers and suppliers, the web not only saves time but also provides a serious competitive edge.
By positioning the web as a valuable asset, and investing time and thought into educating your workforce in its uses and benefits, you will demystify it. In doing so, you will not only eliminate inappropriate usage, you will stimulate a culture of ideas that can only benefit your business.
Having taken the first step of harnessing the web's potential as an information channel, you and your colleagues will be very well placed to identify and leverage its potential as a trading channel.