To sum it up, there are a lot of valid reasons managers and agencies shy away from remote workers. It’s hard to blame them. However, for those who want to give a distributed team a shot, there are avenues and tools for you to try. I encourage anyone on the fence about remote work to try it out by starting small. Hire a freelancer or independent contractor, or give your team one or two days a week to work remotely. See how it goes (and share in the comments).
Movies and TV shows from the likes of Devil Wears Prada to Rules of Engagement make us laugh and feel sorry for the personal assistants. Their lives are consumed by ego-maniacal tyrants paying them no more than a couple of funny pennies per hour. Luckily, apart from the odd unfortunate exception, the reality is much different. Yes, sometimes personal assistants are asked to do menial tasks ranging from the humiliating to the humdrum, and they are often asked to be on duty round the clock, but it usually pays off in more ways than one.

For employees, having the ability to telecommute thanks to having a virtual work place provides them with savings on commuting costs such as fuel. A paper from The Mobility Choice Coalition found that if 10 million employees who have the option to telecommute do so just twice a month, 21 million barrels of oil would be saved a year. With gas prices close to $4.00 a gallon, this would amount to $1.7 billion of fuel cost savings a year.1
One option is to look at remote work as a benefit, not a policy. In today’s (and tomorrow’s) economy, there are going to be vast opportunities both online and locally. Opening or closing the door on remote work and distributed teams can be a great decision if it aligns with your strategy, goals, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, that decision doesn’t have to be final. Co-located teams can successfully go remote, and teams that started out remotely can decide to get an office space.

"Managing Virtual Teams (MVT) provided workable solutions that could be implemented right away for long term success. I went into the course hoping to grab a few tips and tricks but instead experienced a hands-on workshop that was tailored to my organization's needs." Megan West, Digital Communications Manager. Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)
Some employers offer limited or full benefits to a personal assistant. These benefits can include medical and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. The addition of benefits, even limited ones, can help to bolster a lower salary amount, helping to attract more candidates to the position. The cost of any added benefits should be calculated into the salary package offered.
Employer Trust - Another main factor that can negatively affect working remotely is the trust employers have in employees to get jobs done from home. For both parties to get the most benefit from a virtual work environment, there must be mutual trust between employer and employee. A worker must continue to complete assignments as required. You should be able to monitor this fairly easily based on the productivity of each employee working from home.
Even if you can do all the administrative work yourself, why should you? The one hour a day you spend running to the post office, balancing the checkbook, or booking airline tickets would be better spent calling prospects, learning, or thinking strategically. Always try to spend as much time as possible using your unique strengths on your highest leverage activities. Running out to Staples to buy printer paper probably doesn’t fall into that category.
Communication on a distributed team is a whole other ballgame. I never realized how much I took co-located colleagues for granted until there was no one beside me I could ask a quick question. Every question, every answer, every approval will be documented on a remote team. This makes for great records, but bulky loads of information to sort through.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time since the turn of the century. According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home. Steadily increasing life expectancies and inadequate retirement savings have forced many Americans in this age group to delay retirement. Others choose to work into their 70s and beyond to stay active and engaged in their communities.
Small-business owners often struggle to fulfill all their duties but are wary of taking on a partner or hiring a management team because they want to maintain the integrity of their vision or stay in complete control. If that sounds like you, you can bring your business to the next level without too much compromise or cost by hiring a personal assistant.
Virtual work or telecommuting requires self-discipline, motivation and a tremendous amount of focus. Individuals who do their best work independently are often the happiest with telecommuting than workers who need to have regular contact with others. The managers who supervise telecommuters bear a large responsibility as well. Managing employees remotely can be very challenging, and it is ultimately the manager's responsibility for determining which of their employees demonstrate the necessary skills and traits for performing successfully in a remote location.
They’re more work to manage and have a time overhead compared to someone at the office is a big part. It’s also easy to forget and ignore remote workers and it can be harder to evaluate their productivity. A culture that has a mix of remote and non-remote has the remotes pretty isolated as the normal way of communicating things has them left out. (source)
Increased productivity. Virtual collaboration tools allow remote employees to collaborate as if they’re in the same conference room. Employees can use forms of virtual communication in the workplace, such as video conferencing, as well as email, instant messages, and the telephone. Workers are more likely to work in excess of 40 hours a week if they’re working from home, and they also take fewer sick days. Employees working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they’re able to collaborate from home. Business hours increase with more flexibility. Furthermore, business will continue as usual regardless of weather conditions that could limit productivity due to hazardous driving conditions.
Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.

If I ask Eric to perform research, I give him all the tools and instructions he needs to do a great job. Yes, that takes time, but it’s minimal compared to the amount of time he saves me. What’s more, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to “do this” if you don’t at least tell them how you want it done. It’s like sending someone for coffee and not telling them what you want in it. (Note: I’ve never once sent a personal assistant for coffee, though I’ll get coffee for him. It reinforces the humility aspect of things.)

When you work from home, you don't get the benefits of employee interactions. These benefits that an organization gains are hardly documented or understood. Many complex "back and forths" in a work-from-home setting can be quickly discussed and decided over the water cooler in an office setting. You work at work and enjoy home at home. Don't work from home and home at work. - Bastin Gerald, Apptivo
Employer Trust - Another main factor that can negatively affect working remotely is the trust employers have in employees to get jobs done from home. For both parties to get the most benefit from a virtual work environment, there must be mutual trust between employer and employee. A worker must continue to complete assignments as required. You should be able to monitor this fairly easily based on the productivity of each employee working from home.
No business is too big or small to use a PA, and with recent technological development with the internet, the new era of PA’s has come in the form of virtual assistants. Virtual assistants work remotely from their own home but undertake the same duties a normal PA would, and this can offer a cost effective alternative for smaller business who need help. So, what does a PA do?  Some of the duties a personal assistant may undertake include email and calendar management, organising transportation, call handling, research and event planning.  As an independent contractor, you might also use a PA for basic bookkeeping and invoicing your clients.  If you are trying to build an online personal brand, PA’s can also help with managing your social media profiles.

At one of my first companies, we grew a remote team to more than 100 people. Often the members of this team would perform better than the people who came into the office every day because they weren't distracted by meetings and other interruptions common to a shared office. Collaboration occurred over video, chat and project management software. People focused on work, followed established processes and were held accountable for their productivity. - Danilo Stern-Sapad, FabFitFun

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The Joanna Gray Agency has been placing personal assistants for high-powered corporate executives, wealthy estate owners, and well-known celebrities for more than a decade. If you’d like to discuss your needs for a candidate for this position or similar domestic help positions, please contact owner, Joanna Gray, at the Joanna Gray Agency for the personal touch you’ve been seeking. Joanna will make sure your assistant matches your needs perfectly.
A recent study at Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. found that married people who work from home are happier than traditional workers. The conclusion that working at home could make you happier if you’re married is based in part on housework and home-based chores. Married remote workers reported feeling there was a fairer and more gender-neutral division of work done around the house. The study was based on responses from thousands of workers based in Switzerland and the U.K. The study found that “working from home made married couples perceivably happier, although there was no effect on the love life of single employees in the U.K.”

A recent study on “the state of remote work” by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that remote employees have “slightly higher levels of investment in their work,” and benefit from “clearer boundaries and work habits” needed to be successful. The data, based on responses from 1,097 workers across the U.S., reinforces findings from previous research showing that people who work from home are fully engaged with fellow team members, and often are more productive.
Keep in mind that if you pay someone more than $600 per calendar year, the IRS has pretty strict guidelines about making sure you issue a 1099. Of course, that means the assistant has to pay taxes on the earned income, which dents his bottom line. So you can always make the choice to pay an assistant under the table. What you do is up to you, but let me repeat: Always keep in mind what tax laws dictate, and make smart choices based on that.
Only Pay for Time Spent on Projects – This is a great benefit for your business budget. When you utilize a virtual assistant, you only pay for time spent on projects. So you can budget for the projects that have a high priority for your business. For example, Creative Business Assistants offers discounted monthly packages, which provides savings to their clients. Their clients know consistently what they will be billed for on a monthly basis or what they can allot for based on a project.
Security is often overlooked when a business decides to allow employees to work remotely, leaving companies vulnerable to cybercriminals. Although there are cloud options to make remote work easier, with today’s internet of threats, companies cannot afford to overlook protecting their confidential and proprietary information. - Tammy Cohen, InfoMart

One of the problems I have come across with remote employees is communication. Being able to discuss ideas on a common whiteboard or screen is more effective in person, as you can gauge reactions and tailor the discussion when you are able to see the whole person. Also, remote employees often have flexible hours that can lead to scheduling issues and make spontaneous communications problematic. - Chris Kirby, Voices.com
Employee engagement and motivation. Consider giving remote and office workers surveys to see who is more engaged and motivated overall. Ask questions about how they feel coming to work every day, find out whether they’re inspired at work and ask if they think their role within the company is important. Ask specific questions about whether or not they feel included in group decisions and ask if they feel as though their needs and concerns are considered and addressed.

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