Use time zones to your advantage. Timezones are a great and terrible thing. On one hand, I know what it’s like to wake up at 6 a.m. for a meeting. Or sleep at 3 a.m. waiting for an update from the team. I’ve also seen the benefits of having a person online at all times for our customers. This is especially powerful in customer support. It allows for 24/7 support with just a few strategically placed (literally) people. Time.is is a great way to compare what time it is (and will be) in other places and can help you keep track of the time where your other team members are. And don’t fret, because you’ll get the hang of it. I often forget what time it is where I am. But after working on a remote team for 3 years, I’ve learned how to do timezone calculations almost subconsciously. Just be sure to set an alarm for Daylight Savings.
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.
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.
If you’re a busy person trying to make headway in your business and financial life, a personal assistant might seem like an expense you can’t afford. But to get rich, you have to think like rich people do, and the first step begins with what I call “abundance mentality.” A person who lacks this looks at the possibility of a personal assistant and says, “Oh no, I can’t afford that.”
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.
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.
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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.
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
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.
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 I try out a personal assistant, I give them two weeks of probation no matter how much I may love them in an interview. This gives me a chance to see how reliable they are and how comfortable I feel with them. During this time, I may pay them half the going rate to see how much they want to do the job right and follow through. If you have to let them go, be humble and smart: “I’m not sure it’s a great fit for either of us” is much more tactful than “You suck.”
It’s hard to dispute: companies and at-home employees alike say remote work is a boon to productivity. Distractions like water cooler gossip, impromptu meetings, and loud colleagues are a non-issue, according to an infographic based on data from SurePayroll, a web-based payroll provider for small businesses. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.