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 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.”
Eliminate email (almost). Hubstaff takes a stronger view on this, with our team avoiding most email like the plague. However, I’ve found that the occasional email is sometimes necessary. Lean towards project management tools like Basecamp and Redbooth, which allow you to keep track of what everyone says in one place. Most PM software also allows you to organize projects and store files, create checklists, and assign due dates for clear expectations.
Customer Service Representative – For a busy entrepreneur, customer service is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can forward calls to your virtual assistant, and they can become a virtual call center designated specifically for your business. With the enhancement of technology, there are companies such as Ring Central that make this an easy option for small businesses. Additionally, the virtual assistant can handle any follow-up calls as needed.
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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Small-business owners often struggle to fulfill all their duties but are wary of taking on a partner or hiring a management team because they want to maintain the integrity of their vision or stay in complete control. If that sounds like you, you can bring your business to the next level without too much compromise or cost by hiring a personal assistant.
Actually – the work of a personal assistant should NOT be issued a 1099. The work they perform is that of an employee, and not a contractor. Misclassifying them as such can result in steep fines from the IRS, who are cracking down on this behavior (businesses trying to save money by not being a accountable for their workers and properly giving them a W-2. If you can’t afford to offer a W-2, then maybe you can’t afford an assistant.
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.
Try to get together in person at least once a year. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert brings his team together annually for a strategic planning meeting. They spend two days working and two days hanging out and getting to know each other. Zapier brings their distributed team together for regular team retreats where cooking, games, and lots of other team-building activities are involved.
I’ve also never had a full-time nanny for my three kids. I’m not judging others who are making different choices; it’s just not the right decision for me. For one, I don’t want a non-family member living in my house. But more importantly, parenting is my first value, so I want to do it myself as much as I can. (I’m fortunate in that I have a lot of schedule flexibility that enables this.)
Web Site Designer/Administrator – You will find a pool of virtual assistants who specialize in website design and management. You will find a lot of virtual assistants in this arena who are experts in web creation using software such as WordPress and others like it. Specifically, you can easily find virtual assistants who promote WordPress as their niche. If your company needs assistance with its website, which includes a blog, using this type of virtual assistant would be great for your business.
In a world that is constantly on the move, the concept of “office” appears to be best left behind in the 20th century. With the rise of cloud technology and the increased need for people to stay mobile, the idea of going to an office seems to be fading away fast. As a company owner, there's no more need to spend thousands of dollars on renting an office space and managing an in-house team.
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For many workers, work-life balance remains a mystery as they juggle 40+ hour workweeks, kids’ soccer schedules, and doctor’s appointments for aging parents. Thing is, when you don’t have to cram your entire personal life into the hours after 6:00 PM, you’ll start to relax—fast. Many virtual jobs offer flexible schedules that allow busy working parents (and non-parents alike) the opportunity to take care of their families as well as stay on top of their workloads. Being able to balance both your job and your family instinctively creates loyalty to your job for letting you do what you need to do and still earn a paycheck.
Employees from the younger generations of workers--Generation X and Generation Y, in particular--find virtual work a tremendous benefit. Virtual offices and telecommuting offer flexibility, and the comfort of being able to work independently without conforming to work rules, such as a dress code and traditional work hours. Telecommuting is appealing to some workers because it prevents the often unnecessary and unwelcome interruptions by co-workers and managers that can impede productivity and attentiveness.
Working independently with just a computer screen to keep you company is vastly different from the hustle and bustle of an office. When you hire remote workers, you can’t just pull them into a quick meeting (which some would argue is a good thing, since meetings waste time), or stop by their desks to see how work is going. There’s going to be some loss in camaraderie since you won’t see your team face-to-face every day.
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.
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.
Ten years ago, I felt dubious when a mentor told me to hire a personal assistant. Now I can’t imagine myself getting the job done without one, and at times, I’ve even used two to handle vastly different tasks. You may think, “Why not hire a college intern for free?” I’ve had those, too, but here’s a friendly warning: Internships should always be conducted in conjunction with a college program that offers credit, and you have to spend time supervising the person on a documented learning journey that takes them from point A to B. So if you’re looking for free help from a college student, and falsely labeling it an “internship,” you could get both yourself and the student in big trouble. Plus, it’s sleazy.
Personal life and work life imbalance: As it involves work being done in the same physical space as where most people typically go about their personal lives, it is inevitable that work will be invasive in your personal life or vice versa. This means that maintaining harmony between work life and personal life is crucial to the success of virtual work.
About the author: Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer, and love offering readers great service stories and ideas to improve their lives. Writing for FlexJobs allows me to be an example and show people that you can indeed have a healthy work life balance.
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.
Online Research:You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Be sure to send clear instructions, along with user names and passwords so assistants can get access to specialty search tools or paid websites.
Cost savings - The biggest advantage of virtual team enjoyed by an organization is the associated cost savings. The organization can do away with huge expenses on real estate, office spaces, utilities bills such as gas, electricity, water etc. and executives’ travel. Many organizations outsource their operations to the low-cost regions. Thus production cost also decreases with the reduced raw material cost, operational costs and lower wages of the employees in these geographic locations.
Level of interaction and communication. Analytics make it easy to determine which employees are interacting and communicating. Managers can track whether or not remote workers are engaging, and use that information to determine whether remote work is right for their company. Besides time tracking software to monitor employees’ time spent working, managers can use project management software to ask for updates and view communication between team members. Intelligent software offers employers a way to digitally monitor employees’ behavior and discover patterns about their progress, or lack thereof. For example, sociometric analysis measures how social relationships affect productivity.
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.
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.
Remote workers often mean more cash flow and greater productivity, increasing a company's bottom line. Allowing people to work remotely often cuts overhead by reducing expenses, such as a larger office space. Greater productivity, which again increases the bottom line, is typically achieved because employees have the freedom to work at their own pace, knowing they have a job to complete. - Justin Goodbread, Heritage Investors
At one of my first companies, we grew a remote team to more than 100 people. Often the members of this team would perform better than the people who came into the office every day because they weren't distracted by meetings and other interruptions common to a shared office. Collaboration occurred over video, chat and project management software. People focused on work, followed established processes and were held accountable for their productivity. - Danilo Stern-Sapad, FabFitFun
Many small-business owners wish they could clone themselves or have more time in the day to do their work, because they want things done a specific way. You can train your personal assistant to do tasks exactly the way you want them done. Over time, your personal assistant will get a feel for the way you do things and automatically sync with your style. By developing a relationship with a personal assistant, you’ll begin to trust that your assistant understands your perspective and motivation. An effective and well-trained assistant is the closest you can get to cloning yourself.
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.
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.