With all the allure of a couch, mid-day naps, Netflix, virtual reality games, drum lessons, airline flight sale alerts, and whatever small distractions there are in a day, it’s no surprise that managers worry about work productivity for their employees out of the office. They are at the mercy of beckoning chores. A full pantry of things to snack on. “Quick” walks to the park, and so much more that can distract them from work. I can see how easy it would be for tasks to take longer. For example, a task that would take one hour in an office could take five hours with distractions.
Collaborate about team expectations and goals. Be sure that expectations and goals are clearly stated for virtual meetings. If working in a team, allow everyone to work together to create the team’s expectations and goals. This will set the standard for what’s expected from everyone, and allow everyone to agree on meeting protocols, such as how to resolve conflict and make group decisions.
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
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.
The Joanna Gray Agency has been placing personal assistants for high-powered corporate executives, wealthy estate owners, and well-known celebrities for more than a decade. If you’d like to discuss your needs for a candidate for this position or similar domestic help positions, please contact owner, Joanna Gray, at the Joanna Gray Agency for the personal touch you’ve been seeking. Joanna will make sure your assistant matches your needs perfectly.
Saving on Hiring a Full-Time Employee – A key benefit to using a virtual assistant for your business is the saving aspect. By working with a virtual assistant, you will save on the expense of hiring a full-time employee. This includes the amount of time and money spent on interviewing and training a new employee. This also includes the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance, employee-related benefits, and tax savings. As independent contractors, virtual assistants are responsible for their own bookkeeping and taxes. You will not have to worry about incurring such costs.
Save on Office Space – Since the contractor is virtual, they work off site. This allows you to save on expenses such as ordering a new desk and purchasing a computer. As a matter of fact, they use their own resources. So you save on the space that a new employee would incur. This is a win particularly if you happen to work remotely or independently yourself. You can work remotely and at the same time have the additional assistance you need.
Reduced Time to Market - Since the members span the time zones, there could be different team working on the same project 24*7, so when one member sleeps there will be another one somewhere else who would start work where the former had left. This shortens the product development time as well as faster response time to demands in both global and local markets.
You probably have exciting plans and concepts that get derailed and diluted by worldly problems. Most people with entrepreneurial spirits would rather focus on creative business ideas than do paperwork and answer the phone all day. By hiring a personal assistant, you can free yourself to play to your strengths. Tasks that aren’t your strong points or that diverge from your real talent can be delegated to your assistant, giving you the time and space to do what you do best. A personal assistant can create a barrier between you and the outside world, allowing you to think, flesh out ideas and avoid distractions.
In a 2008 interview with American Society of Association Executives, Deb Keary, human resources director for the Society for Human Resource Management, cited two potential problems with telecommuting. One is if a telecommuter isn't suited to working outside the office, and the work suffers. The other is if the manager isn't suited to it or isn't comfortable with it. In that case, it won't work. "Not all managers are cut out to supervise telecommuters," she said. In addition, there are some occupations that obviously are unsuitable for telework arrangements, such as laborers and clinicians; however, positions that require minimal personal interaction may be very well suited to telecommuting from virtual offices.
Better recruitment opportunities. You can select from the top-qualified candidates around the globe for a position if you’re open to managing a remote workforce. Instead of limiting your recruiting opportunities to those who are willing to relocate and those able to make the daily commute, you can focus on hiring the best-qualified candidates without worrying about any geographic restrictions.
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.
No business is too big or small to use a PA, and with recent technological development with the internet, the new era of PA’s has come in the form of virtual assistants. Virtual assistants work remotely from their own home but undertake the same duties a normal PA would, and this can offer a cost effective alternative for smaller business who need help. So, what does a PA do? Some of the duties a personal assistant may undertake include email and calendar management, organising transportation, call handling, research and event planning. As an independent contractor, you might also use a PA for basic bookkeeping and invoicing your clients. If you are trying to build an online personal brand, PA’s can also help with managing your social media profiles.
Some employers offer limited or full benefits to a personal assistant. These benefits can include medical and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. The addition of benefits, even limited ones, can help to bolster a lower salary amount, helping to attract more candidates to the position. The cost of any added benefits should be calculated into the salary package offered.
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.
I am 63 and currently working as a remote Virtual Assistant. It requires self discipline, integrity and accountability. If you have these qualities, the benefits are awesome – I have never been happier! Better work-life balance, increased productivity, less stress and no commuting. Technology is not only for the millenials, but for silver surfers too.
Leading Across Distance: This program is designed to provide leaders with the tools they need to propel results from their virtual teams. The program is broken up into three sessions: distance leadership, leading across cultural differences, and engaging virtual meetings. You will learn what you need to know about the most important aspects of distance leadership, how to effectively communicate in the virtual setting, how to leverage diversity and cultural differences, and more.
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.
Increase cross-cultural awareness. People involved in global teams should know and understand the challenges that come with communicating across cultures. For example, an American multinational oil and gas corporation wanted to ensure their non-Iraqi employees were equipped with the cultural knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the Iraqi context. Aperian Global worked with corporation leaders and local Iraqis to design a workshop for multinational employees assigned to Iraq, and it was offered in the US and the Middle East. A pre-departure workshop was also created for employees traveling to Iraq. It addressed issues such as safety, security, and health, as well as business and cultural topics. The workshops gave leaders and employees the information, skills and confidence needed to successfully collaborate and conduct business across cultural boundaries.
Use varied channels of communication. There are many ways to communicate virtually. Lean methods include emails, chat messages, and texting. If you have a simple message to share, a lean method of communication is usually fine. If you have something deeper or more complicated to share, it’s better to opt for a richer method of communication, such as video conference or telephone call. These methods add more contextual information like facial expressions and body language, which can be very telling in a conversation.
The cost of a personal assistant will be more than a virtual assistant and you will be responsible for employing them. But you will be receiving 100% of their time and whilst this requires a certain amount of administration on your part there are companies such as Staff Tax in the UK for private staff who can help with payroll, employment contracts and pensions. For an idea of how much a PA would expect to be paid you can read more here.
Make a list of tasks that will make up the job. Common tasks, such as running errands, data entry and answering telephones should not raise a personal assistant's pay. More challenging tasks, particularly those that are specialized, such as requiring your assistant to speak a second language, complete payroll for other staff members or travel for a long period of time, should be adequately compensated by raising the salary and offering a travel allowance. Also consider the time commitments of the job description. A personal assistant that works a standard business week may not make as much money as one who is on call or required to travel.
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In all fairness, despite its glorious perks, being a personal assistant is not for everybody. You often need to sacrifice your own hopes and dreams for the sake of the person you work for, but making that sacrifice might just be the one thing that helps you reach something you never even dreamed of achieving. Just think about Pepper Potts in Iron Man: she started off as an assistant but ended up being in charge of the entire Stark Industries.
To sum it up, there are a lot of valid reasons managers and agencies shy away from remote workers. It’s hard to blame them. However, for those who want to give a distributed team a shot, there are avenues and tools for you to try. I encourage anyone on the fence about remote work to try it out by starting small. Hire a freelancer or independent contractor, or give your team one or two days a week to work remotely. See how it goes (and share in the comments).
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.
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.
Have you ever wished there were more time in a day? (I know, more than once, right? 😉 ) Well, while you can’t add hours to the day, you can hire the help that will make it feel like you have. The secret is in hiring a personal assistant to help. A personal assistant or PA is also known as an executive secretary, a personal secretary, or a private assistant. Whatever you choose to call this person, after hiring one, you will wonder how you ever did without them.
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.