The perks of being a small business What happens when forced to work virtually?
During the covid-19 pandemic businesses have been forced to go completely virtual. This has ultimately changed the boundary landscape as we know it, and companies have had to swiftly respond to this unforeseen transformation. For small businesses this has meant a significant change as they are used to the perks of operating in an environment characterized by informality, fast communication, and togetherness. This study applies a boundary work perspective on the phenomenon, which allows us to understand how a firm with less visible boundaries has been affected by a shift to remote work. Earlier studies on boundary work have primarily been ascribed to human agency. This paper accounts for other important parameters such as that of time, space, and materiality. It also describes several boundaries at a time and the linkages between different boundaries, which much of previous research lacks. A case study on a small firm is conducted, where primary data is collected from retrospective interviews. The conclusions are threefold, firstly we conclude that boundaries become more distinct and visible during remote work. This is because the characteristics of the small firm depend on members existing in the same space and time, where communication is allowed to flow easily. Secondly, we see that the boundaries experienced in the firm are not due to specific actors, but rather to the virtual work itself. Thirdly, we determine that boundary work has both intended and unintended consequences and can change over time and transform into something else. Lastly, we provide managerial implications and future research for boundary work, but also interesting insights on the re-configuration of togetherness in a virtual setting.
MSc in Management
small business culture