Before I tell you about my personal assistant, why I have one, and the financial benefits of hiring one, I’m going to give you permission to make fun of me. That’s right: Assume his name is Jeeves or Alfred, that I ask him to wash out my dirty socks and filet my pheasant under glass. And since I can’t live in a palatial estate just yet, you can also assume I’m acting out some self-indulgent fantasy of being rich and important, even though you know, natch, that I’m neither one of those things.
The answer is you hire someone. You trade with someone. You trade them for two hours. That’s what I did in the beginning. Because I remember… I was just really young in my career, very in the early days, and I was running to get to the dry cleaners so I could get my only two suits because if I didn't get them, you know, then the place closes and I can’t get on the plane.
Over the past decade, a rising number of young professionals, primarily from the United States and Europe, have leveraged the use of technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.
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A file-sharing service. Virtual teams need a place to share files. A file-sharing service will allow employees to store, access and share files in a secure location. Dropbox is one major platform for file sharing, but there are plenty of other popular services available, such as Google Drive and OneDrive. If you have highly regulated IT guidelines, it may be worthwhile to invest in your own IT-approved system.
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and Business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.
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
Luckily, challenges bring with them opportunities. Company leaders managing remote employees can take action to circumvent the possible negative effects of remote work. They can require remote workers to check in with another employee or manager every day, simply to engage in a friendly conversation, and enjoy some personal facetime to break up the workday, as would be normal in an office setting.
Valuable Skill Set – Virtual assistants are highly skilled independent contractors, including administrative assistants, website administrators, and senior level executives, all of whom have had a broad range of experience. Most virtual assistants work in a specific niche, meaning they’ll understand your industry better than someone who doesn’t focus on a particular niche.
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.
Companies are increasingly embracing “remote, agile” teams to complete projects and meet deadlines, according to a study by the freelancing website Upwork. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based managers found that the continuing “skills gap” is driving the trend toward hiring more virtual workers. Still, many of those companies have yet to implement a formal remote work policy, the study concluded.
Routine: Just like any other work, one of the main enemies of motivation is routine, and this poses a major risk especially in the virtual medium. Putting in long hours in front of a computer can lead to exhaustion, stress and a bunch of unmotivated employees. The team needs to have a constant source of positive motivation to keep this aspect from affecting its work.
Have a culture of transparency. This allows everyone to get a good grasp of each other’s tasks and responsibilities, which encourages good expectations accountability. It could be as simple as sending a weekly report to a shared channel, or keeping all of the projects in your PM tool viewable for all employees, so they can see what’s going on within the company. If you want to take it a step further, consider revenue transparency or public salaries.
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.”
Establish an onboarding process. Be sure that every employee who collaborates virtually has the same onboarding experience. They should be given access to the same communication systems and handbooks that explain the company processes. Everyone should be given the same advice and tools for success as they’re brought on board. If possible, it can even be very valuable to have an initial onboarding done face-to-face in an office location.
From my experience, remote team members have allowed my company to recruit from a larger talent pool worldwide versus being limited to the geographic location where our offices are located. From an employer's perspective, by going the contractor route (versus just remote), you pay for only the work being done, instead of a full payroll, while allowing flexibility and freedom within the position. - Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies
Having a virtual office can cause employees to miss out on the social advantage of being in an office. Virtual employees can suffer from the "out of sight, out of mind" effect, in which they could be passed on for promotions or opportunities because they weren't in the office for management to consider them. They also can miss out on networking opportunities which could lead to other options in the company.
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.
Depending on the job requirements of the position as well as the employer's personal and business situation, more experience than a high school diploma may be required. Some personal assistant positions may require a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience. Also consider whether or not your personal assistant should have relevant experience in a field related to yours. The pay for a personal assistant should reflect the amount of education and experience brought to you. The more education and experience requirements you have, the higher your personal assistant's salary should be.
Conflicts, Lack of Trust & Collaboration - The cultural differences between the members of virtual teams gives rise to number of conflicts. For example, while an American would write a straightforward email describing a bad situation, this would be perceived as impolite by a South Asian (say Japanese) member of the team. This would lead to conflicts, mistrust and difficulties in fruitful collaboration which is so vital for the success of virtual team functioning. These challenges are also precipitated by the absence of non-verbal cues so intrinsic to face-to-face interactions.
When you hire employees to work remotely, your talent pool is endless. Gone are the days of being bound to hiring and recruiting talent from a specific geographical location. By offering remote opportunities, you are also providing access to those individuals who may not be able to work outside of the home, such as those with disabilities. Additionally, virtual employment offers an alternative that may have otherwise kept parents and caregivers out of the workforce.
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.