Of course, there are certain things you shouldn’t outsource or delegate, and not just regarding your workday. Billionaire Mark Cuban revealed on TV show Shark Tank that he still washes his own laundry. I do, too. It would be easy for me to have someone stop in each week to do my laundry or to drop it at the dry cleaning place—but I find it grounding somehow to do my own laundry.
One option is to look at remote work as a benefit, not a policy. In today’s (and tomorrow’s) economy, there are going to be vast opportunities both online and locally. Opening or closing the door on remote work and distributed teams can be a great decision if it aligns with your strategy, goals, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, that decision doesn’t have to be final. Co-located teams can successfully go remote, and teams that started out remotely can decide to get an office space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another concern is the care that goes into a business. I’ve seen remote workers who were just as dedicated to their companies as local employees. I’ve seen in-office employees waste as much time as possible because they simply didn’t care about the business. The relationship between a manager and employee can affect how the employee sees the company as a whole. So in order to increase loyalty, remote team managers should be advocates and someone remote workers can trust.
While one advantage of virtual offices is the creation of a larger pool of resources, this can also be a disadvantage because this means resources can also be obtained offshores or jobs can be outsourced to a different company. If positions can be filled by employees in a different city, what would keep companies from extending those positions to candidates in a different country?
Often expanding the employee count also means expanding the office space to hold more employees. The cost of upgrading and expanding a space is saved by delegating some of the work to online employees. This allows the employers to save time and money searching for a new space and also gives them the access to many talented employees who may not be available to work the typical 9-5 hours.
Social Isolation - Many members of virtual teams are adversely affected by the lack of physical interactions. Most of the communications in virtual environment is task-oriented. In today’s society where job is an important social force for most of us because many of our workplace colleagues also constitute our close friends, this gives a not-so-good feeling of social isolation. This in turn counter-effects productivity as well as leads to stress.
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.