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Having worked remotely for my whole career (25 years) I found this to be a great read. I certainly agree with the elements as provided. It does take a certain personality to be able to stay focused and committed without the boss watching. wink wink. The biggest challenge I find is actually separating from work. With the advent of PDA this is really the norm rather then the exception.
If you are developing a business that is online, you should check out http://www.odesk.com. You can hire talented assistants for most types of tasks. I hired world-class designers and programmers to build my iTunes app business at low cost. oDesk takes care of the tax forms and payments to your assistants. Pretty nifty and you only pay for work that gets done. You could likely set up a local virtual assistant through their system if you need help at your office.
"At Trello, we've found it beneficial to create activities like online trivia nights and coffee meetings. We also try to recreate those casual 'water cooler moments' you experience in a physical office with our team chat and video conferencing tools," Pryor said. "We've also created multiple social channels for employees to share their hobbies, fitness goals or silly pictures of their kids. Especially in virtual teams, you need these opportunities to connect on a human level."
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Often, the challenge for startups and other small companies is having the resources to hire an employee with as much of this expertise as possible at the lowest possible investment. Finding all of this in one individual at the experience level required can be daunting. The virtual team can provide the answer in fields such as human resources, finance and marketing.

Provide and nurture an online meeting place. Automattic, the team behind WordPress, developed an internal blog called P2 where everyone can publish posts based on their achievements and how their week went. At Hubstaff, we have a Slack channel for random discussions where we discuss 30-day running challenges (which I supported with good thoughts) and share interesting articles we find around the web.
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.)
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.

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
My team has been distributed evenly between in-office and remote workers from the start. As we've grown, one of the most critical dynamics we've seen develop is the need to transcribe all discussions to accommodate remote co-workers in varying time zones. This has created an impeccable auditing system for when we've needed to pull up information instantly to tackle problems, disagreements or work opportunities. - George Georgallides, XO
When you hire locally, there is no choice but to live with the restrictions that come from having a small talent pool. You only get access to a certain amount of potential employees in your own city that may or may not have experience in your work area. However, one of the virtual team benefits is that going virtual will give you the power to hire people from all around the globe.
An automation service. Most jobs include at least a small amount of repetitive tasks that don’t require your personal input, such as transferring information from an email to a calendar or copying and pasting information onto a spreadsheet. For such tasks that use a lot of time and hinder overall productivity, consider an automation service. When simple tasks are automated, more time becomes available for tasks that do require your personal input. IFTTT and Zapier are examples of excellent automation services.
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.

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
Marketing Assistant – Similar to the function of a social media assistant, a virtual assistant is a great tool for marketing. This would include assisting with launching any marketing campaigns and tracking their success. A virtual assistant can be used to assist implementing your marketing plan by helping with email campaigns. They can assist you with this by first scraping your email list to ensure that all the addresses are updated and do not include any errors. This can include helping you segment your lists as well source them. Secondly, they can help you implement and track the analytics of the email campaign itself. Another great way to use a virtual assistant in marketing is to have them promote any blogs that you may have. This is a much needed aspect for any business that has a blog. It must be promoted, updated, and managed. So all these tasks are great to delegate to your virtual assistant.
Administrative Services – Most businesses need a good administrative assistant. A virtual assistant can handle all types of administrative services, which include managing company email, scheduling and confirming appointments, managing business correspondence, entering data, and assisting with bookkeeping. They can also take on additional administrative projects that you don’t wish to handle. Thankfully, you will find that many virtual assistants are Microsoft Excel experts.
A greater part of the day can be devoted to job duties, projects and other work-related responsibilities because commuting time is eliminated. In some densely populated areas, commuters spend upwards of 10 hours each week just going to and from work. Telecommuters could put to use the saved time by dedicating more of their time to office work, or to achieving a work life balance by spending time with family.
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.
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).
Employees who have virtual offices or telecommute work more hours than their office counterparts. People who work in a virtual office can often blur the difference between home life and work life. Unlike employees who can leave work at the office, employees with virtual offices tend to continue to work outside of "normal" work hours. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 50% to 67% of telecommuting hours push the employee’s over 40 hours a week.4 Some reasons for these additional hours could be the employees’ desire to justify their telecommuting by being more productive and continuing to work beyond business hours or a result of companies maximizing their salaried employees by providing them with virtual offices to be able to continue work outside the office.
How much should you pay someone who takes care of every aspect of your life? Deciding a fair personal assistant salary depends on a number of factors, including the your budget for hiring staff and the variety of tasks the assistant will oversee. Determining an appropriate wage for the position attracts the right candidates when you hire a personal assistant and keeps a person in the position long term.
It’s estimated that the average virtual worker saves upwards of $7000 annually as opposed to those who work in an office. (Don’t believe it? Test out the Telework Calculator, which can add up how much your own savings could be!) Those savings come from a variety of sources, including commuting costs, which counts for a major bulk of the savings. But keep in mind all of the hidden expenses, too, such as lunch and snacks, your twice-daily caramel frappuccino addiction, and clothing costs. If you add all of those up, your decision to work virtually will make a whole lot of sense…in dollars and cents.

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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Another great perk about this profession is that according to some of the most high-earning personal assistants in the world, you don’t even need a college education to excel in it. Apparently, all you really need is thick skin, discretion, dependability, resourcefulness and the ability to use your initiative. Being naturally empathic, flexible and having some administrative skills won't hurt either.

“If the employer and the client are not comfortable conversing in the same spoken language, it is almost guaranteed that the project will cost more money and be delayed. When dealing with a client or employer that does not have the competence of a native speaker in your language you must specify exactly what you need, as if you were talking to a child or machine. Most of the horror stories you see on sites like TDWTF are results of poor communication, not incompetence or malice.” (source)
Invest in communication structures. Despite added expenses of PM fees, software, virtual insurance, VPNs, etc., companies can stand to save a lot on the overhead costs of running an office. No rentals, no electricity bills, and no more perpetually purchasing office supplies. Use those savings to invest in online communication ecosystems. Teleport has a few great blog posts for communication in remote teams.
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.
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