Eliminate email (almost). Hubstaff takes a stronger view on this, with our team avoiding most email like the plague. However, I’ve found that the occasional email is sometimes necessary. Lean towards project management tools like Basecamp and Redbooth, which allow you to keep track of what everyone says in one place. Most PM software also allows you to organize projects and store files, create checklists, and assign due dates for clear expectations.
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.
In a world that is constantly on the move, the concept of “office” appears to be best left behind in the 20th century. With the rise of cloud technology and the increased need for people to stay mobile, the idea of going to an office seems to be fading away fast. As a company owner, there's no more need to spend thousands of dollars on renting an office space and managing an in-house team.
Having a flexible schedule increases the morale of employees and gives them a sense of freedom and agency in their lives that going into a physical office often does not permit. The sense of boosted morale also increases productivity in virtual employees. Responsibility for the work that must be accomplished changes hands from the supervisors who watch over the office to make sure employees are doing their job and arriving on time to the employees, who must meet goals and expectations on their own.
Return on investment is the very close cousin of cost-benefit, but in this case, I will apply it in a strictly financial sense, and use my real-life work as an example. My personal assistant, whose name is Eric, does a lot of research, logistics, and planning for me as a journalist. Because he expands my efficiency, I’m free to take on more assignments and make more money. I would estimate that for the $50 investment I make for each week I hire him out, I make twice as much money minimum because of his help. So if I pocket $100 I wouldn’t otherwise make, and pay him $50, the return on investment is $50. Makes sense? (By the way, that’s during a slow week. Sometimes the return on investment is two or three times as much.)
When you work from home, you’re not only helping yourself out, but Mother Nature as well in many different ways. For example, you’re far less likely to print out reams and reams of paper thereby saving a whole lot of trees in the process. And forget about fancy (and overpriced) lunches; virtual workers will often hit their own fridges come lunchtime. That’s a huge savings in plastic bags, cups, and containers that won’t end up in a landfill. Working from home also means that you’ll use less electricity than if you were in a traditional office. You’ll also greatly reduce your carbon emissions by not having to travel in to work by car or train.
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
HR struggled with keeping classes on track, up to date and in compliance with business needs. After all, to update a training program meant reprinting all training materials and retraining the person conducting the session. A simple change could not be made efficiently, forcing HR to wait until a major overhaul of a training program was permissible.
I can use my own experience as an example for this. When I worked with a marketing agency in America, I was encouraged to voice my opinions, even if they went against our founder. When I consulted with businesses in the Philippines, a common complaint was about employees always saying “yes” to whatever their managers want (even if they couldn’t deliver).
Allowing workers to work from home or from wherever they choose allows them to have flexible schedules for their work and personal lives. It allows them to create their own time frames according to company-set deadlines and to make up time if they need to attend to an appointment that they normally would have to request a whole day off from work for.
Often expanding the employee count also means expanding the office space to hold more employees. The cost of upgrading and expanding a space is saved by delegating some of the work to online employees. This allows the employers to save time and money searching for a new space and also gives them the access to many talented employees who may not be available to work the typical 9-5 hours.
All businesses accept that when starting out they will at some point require additional support. Most often the first consideration is employment of additional staff. Although this can often be daunting especially with all the red tape surrounding employment and legal requirements. More expense can also be driven into the business with a need for larger office space, equipment such as computers, phone lines etc. This is all before the employee has even started. New staff can also mean re-focusing time and effort inwards rather than developing the business and potentially decreasing revenue at a time when increases are most needed.
Companies are being forced to address production over presence as the ultimate indicator of value in the remote world. That is forcing people to rethink their traditional compensation plans. As these compensation plans better align employees with the company, the overall financial picture improves. People are incentivized to the right behaviors, and both the company and employee benefit. - Matthew May, Acuity
When we first considered the idea of a distributed team, the biggest question revolved around whether we would be able to get the work done. The answer is yes, we were able to complete the work. The problem is, it's hard to overstate the importance of collaboration and synergy within a team. These elements are the foundation of an employee's enthusiasm, passion and sense of value to the company, and distributed staffs struggle with achieving these. - Dan Pennell, WMtek
Lock your phone and laptop. Make sure no one is able to access your devices without a password or fingerprint scan. Set your laptop to automatically lock if not in use for 5 minutes or more. This will keep your data safe. Google also provides a great phone tracking service. Just type “Where’s my phone?” In the Google search bar, or check out the Android Device Manager. There are also apps that take photos of whoever tries to unlock your phone or laptop with an incorrect password, such as GotYa! and Lockwatch.
Cost savings - The biggest advantage of virtual team enjoyed by an organization is the associated cost savings. The organization can do away with huge expenses on real estate, office spaces, utilities bills such as gas, electricity, water etc. and executives’ travel. Many organizations outsource their operations to the low-cost regions. Thus production cost also decreases with the reduced raw material cost, operational costs and lower wages of the employees in these geographic locations.
A Virtual PA can be a clever alternative to employing staff. In fact for many who have taken the steps already it's the smarter way to do business. Technology now means that the traditional additions to a business can be outsourced with ease such as software and now staffing. More importantly it allows businesses to be totally adaptable and constantly flexible to industry changes ensuring that quick adjustments or more in depth changes can happen with the minimum of fuss or drain on your time. Imagine having to downsize or re-focus your business with an office full of staff. No matter how equipped you are its going to take time to make changes to the business. Alternatively expansions can be equally difficult to manage, Virtual PA services offer a solution designed for the modern business.
Virtual collaboration offers a profound way to cater to employees with diverse working styles. For example, detailed-driven workers tend to excel in virtual environments. They typically have no trouble planning their workday and accomplishing daily tasks. Emotionally driven individuals may prefer to speak directly over the phone or face-to-face in a video conference, because they typically read social cues very well and prefer verbal communication. Idea-driven workers thrive when facilitating change and usually prefer a lead role in brainstorming solutions, so you should consider giving them more responsibility when strategizing in the virtual setting. Data-driven workers are highly adept at solving complex problems. They don’t typically need an extra push to stay on topic or on budget, but they may prefer to work alone quietly rather than lead a virtual group discussion.
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.
Customer Service Representative – For a busy entrepreneur, customer service is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can forward calls to your virtual assistant, and they can become a virtual call center designated specifically for your business. With the enhancement of technology, there are companies such as Ring Central that make this an easy option for small businesses. Additionally, the virtual assistant can handle any follow-up calls as needed.
One is the jealousy aspect. I’ve been in semi-remote teams wherein only a few people (or even just me) were allowed to work from home. What has worked for me in the past is to clarify responsibilities between my manager and colleagues. Then deliver unfailingly. Once a team learns to appreciate your work, it shouldn’t matter whether you do it beside them or from somewhere else.