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.
Companies of all sizes report significant decreases in operating costs, remote work stats show. Two examples from big companies, according to a Forbes magazine report: Aetna (where some 14,500 of 35,000 employees don’t have an “in-office” desk) shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options.
Virtual offices, telecommuting and telework all mean essentially the same thing: employees work from another location outside of the traditional office. Virtual offices and telecommuting have become immensely popular for some employers, and met with trepidation by others. The concept is a relatively new one, which makes it difficult to construct definitive policies that set clear parameters for working outside the traditional office environment. As with any work arrangement, there are advantages and disadvantages to virtual offices and telecommuting.
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.
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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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.
Typically there are no overhead costs like computers, office and parking spaces, benefits, utilities etc. According to a study from Sanford University, a company can save about $2,000 per year, per employee who works from home.  Even if you provide funds for the employee to set up a home office, costs remain significantly lower than renting an office space.
When shopping for a virtual training platform for your HR needs, consider an all-inclusive platform. This will include everything you need to get your virtual employee training up and running with ease. Start by looking for technology that provides an instructor-led classroom, which allows you to create real-time training sessions via distance learning.
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. 

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time since the turn of the century. According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home. Steadily increasing life expectancies and inadequate retirement savings have forced many Americans in this age group to delay retirement. Others choose to work into their 70s and beyond to stay active and engaged in their communities.
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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.
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.

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