How a flat organization works.

Flat organizations are aptly named. The concept is to have as little hierarchy as possible with the expectation that employees make decisions for themselves, projects and funding are self-determined, with the results being personally meaningful since they are not just company or shareholder driven. Here are a few of the benefits of a flat organization.

Because you save money by basically eliminating mid- and low-level managers, overhead resources are freed up for use by other departments. Only executive-level and human resources managers are kept as not every employee can represent the company for those roles. A company can achieve benefits usually associated with outsourcing certain skills to avoid costly investments, such as building sites and equipment.

Once resources are freed up and not bound by a hierarchical pecking order, each employee is responsible for the time, money, and skills needed to complete their own projects. The scope and timeframe of the work has to be determined to utilize the team effectively without exhaustion, budgets have to be understood and met or the concept and goals must be amended, and a team has to be assembled that covers all skill sets necessary to complete the projects.

Probably the biggest advantage of a flat organizational structure is the flow of information. A shorter chain of command means concepts and proposals don’t get intercepted and denied by middle management before reaching those with actionable power, and money. It also means concepts don’t get muddied and fail from having others adding or change things. In general, it means good ideas become a reality quicker.

While flat organizations may not be suitable for every startup or company looking for nontraditional managerial architecture, there are some solid reasons to consider how a flatter, less hierarchical flow of information in your office would be beneficial.