As companies begin to increasingly rely on the internet and technology for their business operations, more employees are being hired remotely. There are many benefits and some concerns to consider when hiring remote employees. Virtual employees are more cost-efficient, more productive, and happier overall. There are also the risks of client and company data privacy, collaboration accessibility, and the process of blending the virtual employees with the already existing office employees.

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.)
With software and programs such as GoToMeeting, PC Anywhere and Gotomypc, companies are now able to meet with anyone around the world without having to actually travel to the person’s locations. While these programs may not totally eliminate the need for travel, they can provide cost savings to companies by minimizing the need to travel for meetings or services. For example, a traveling sales person can use a remote webinar to provide an initial sales pitch and then travel to those that have the true potential to be customers rather than travel to every prospective customer. Account managers or support personnel can also more easily serve their accounts without having to actually be on location.
Estimates claim that about 2.8% of the global workforce works from home at least half of the time. Although this number seems low at first glance, consider the fact that the number of people who work from home has increased 103% since 2005. There’s no denying that there is an upward trend of work-from-home flexibility in society today — and this trend does indeed come with many benefits, such as the following:
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
“Face-to-face interaction is generally lost, and there’s no substitute for this during some activities, especially those more collaborative in nature. Video conferencing can sometimes offset this, but it’s not a perfect replacement. Feeling like a cohesive team is more difficult, and some people can never get past that. (Manifesting both with those in the office feeling like remote workers aren’t being part of the team, and remote workers feeling like they aren’t treated like they are real teammates.)” (source)
In short, if you use the right tools, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: Your employees can interact with one another as if they’re in the same room, and they can experience all of the benefits that come with working from home. It’s possible to reap the benefits of personal interaction, successful collaboration, and a productive work from home environment. This is possible with the right tools and knowledge for virtual collaboration.

Don’t completely neglect face-to-face meetings. If it’s possible, organize a face-to-face encounter for the first meeting. It’s possible to be successful without ever meeting in person, but there isn’t a replacement for face-to-face contact in person. Meeting physically allows people to share a deeper personal connection. Eye contact, proximity, voice, and body language allow people to connect more closely than they would if they met virtually. If meeting in person for the first time isn’t possible, consider holding an annual gathering or other event to keep employees in touch.
A virtual assistant is a highly skilled professional who offers business support services virtually. This can consist of an individual or a team of virtual assistants with virtually meaning they are located off site and work remotely. They are independent contractors and entrepreneurs who specialize in providing an array of services such as administrative, creative, technical, and legal support.
There are pros and cons of working from home. Every organization is unique — what may work for one may not work for another — but society is advancing in a way that’s leading to more virtual teams and opportunities to work remotely. Once a company decides to implement work from home policies, it’s wise to consider the possible roadblocks to success.
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.
If you hire locally in your own city you are greatly restricting the available talent pool that you can draw upon. You can also use the cost savings from virtual teams to pay more to your team members. The combination of being able to hire from anywhere, and potentially pay more will greatly increase the level of talent that you can attract in your business.

I work as PA for several different clients. I absolutely love the freedom to own my own business, I am paid as a contractor and get to work with successful entrepreneurs. I work form home, on my own time and decide how much I want to work. I am paid as a contractor. I am blessed to be able to grow my business through referrals of happy clients. I specialize in Financial assistance (book keeping, structuring business finances for tax benefits, and building business structures and efficiencies.) I have been a business owner myself and know how to help my clients outsource things they don’t have time for or don’t enjoy. This sets them free to focus on things they love and grow their income. Win-win!


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. 

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