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.
One of the main considerations for running many employees online is how data sharing will be handled in order to keep the appropriate information private for clients and the company. Storing confidential company or client information on employees’ remote computers can be a big risk because there is a higher chance of it being leaked accidentally due to the lessened security on remote computers. There are software options along with employee training that can greatly minimize these risks.
Managing email: To keep you from wasting time in your email inbox, some virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely, but you need to provide guidance on how to pick out key emails and ask the assistant to copy you before sending out any responses to reduce the risk of errors.
Valuable Skill Set – Virtual assistants are highly skilled independent contractors, including administrative assistants, website administrators, and senior level executives, all of whom have had a broad range of experience. Most virtual assistants work in a specific niche, meaning they’ll understand your industry better than someone who doesn’t focus on a particular niche.
Communication on a distributed team is a whole other ballgame. I never realized how much I took co-located colleagues for granted until there was no one beside me I could ask a quick question. Every question, every answer, every approval will be documented on a remote team. This makes for great records, but bulky loads of information to sort through.
Employee engagement and motivation. Consider giving remote and office workers surveys to see who is more engaged and motivated overall. Ask questions about how they feel coming to work every day, find out whether they’re inspired at work and ask if they think their role within the company is important. Ask specific questions about whether or not they feel included in group decisions and ask if they feel as though their needs and concerns are considered and addressed.
For technology companies facing a talent crunch, hiring remotely seems a particularly good idea. However, there are some companies that prefer to keep their staff on site as a means to enhance collaboration and creativity via direct interactions and face-to-face conversations. Here are several pros and cons to working with a distributed workforce, according to 13 Forbes Technology Council members, to help you decide if a remote working model is the right fit for your company.
When you work from home, you don't get the benefits of employee interactions. These benefits that an organization gains are hardly documented or understood. Many complex "back and forths" in a work-from-home setting can be quickly discussed and decided over the water cooler in an office setting. You work at work and enjoy home at home. Don't work from home and home at work. - Bastin Gerald, Apptivo
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
If you hire locally in your own city you are greatly restricting the available talent pool that you can draw upon. You can also use the cost savings from virtual teams to pay more to your team members. The combination of being able to hire from anywhere, and potentially pay more will greatly increase the level of talent that you can attract in your business.
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.
Americans who telecommute for work are doing so for increased amounts of time. According to a Gallup survey, the number of workers who work one day or less from home shrank from 34% to 25% between 2012 and 2016. In the same time period, the number of people working remotely four or five days a week rose from 24% to 31%. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year, up from 39% in 2012.
Alienation from company. Even if remote workers avoid isolating themselves from other people, they may feel isolated from their company itself. They may find themselves unaware of recent company changes, or feel as though they are the last to hear company news because they aren’t physically present in the office. Some remote workers feel as though they’re overlooked for promotions because they aren’t in the office every day.
By way of technology, the training platform needs to provide power for both audio and visual needs. Look for state of the art high-definition, two-way capabilities that will work for the most demanding virtual learning labs. Unless you are high-tech savvy, you will want to choose a company that offers unlimited tech support from startup to routine maintenance. Also, search for a virtual training program that requires low levels of training for the students and the facilitators.
From my experience, remote team members have allowed my company to recruit from a larger talent pool worldwide versus being limited to the geographic location where our offices are located. From an employer's perspective, by going the contractor route (versus just remote), you pay for only the work being done, instead of a full payroll, while allowing flexibility and freedom within the position. - Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies
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Having worked remotely for my whole career (25 years) I found this to be a great read. I certainly agree with the elements as provided. It does take a certain personality to be able to stay focused and committed without the boss watching. wink wink. The biggest challenge I find is actually separating from work. With the advent of PDA this is really the norm rather then the exception.
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.
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.