Administrative Services – Most businesses need a good administrative assistant. A virtual assistant can handle all types of administrative services, which include managing company email, scheduling and confirming appointments, managing business correspondence, entering data, and assisting with bookkeeping. They can also take on additional administrative projects that you don’t wish to handle. Thankfully, you will find that many virtual assistants are Microsoft Excel experts.
Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.

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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.
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Let’s face it: commuting can be a killer, especially if it’s a long one. Studies have shown that uber long commutes can take a toll on workers, ranging from everything from high cholesterol, neck and back pain, as well as elevated stress levels. (It’s even been linked to higher divorce rates, too!) When you eliminate the commute, you can begin to work earlier—and with far less stress. Sans a lengthy, energy-zapping commute, you’ll feel far more refreshed in the morning and eager to start your workday earlier…just because you can.
Any kind of process will have its own pros and cons. Similarly, virtual office workers also come with their own advantages and disadvantages but it is up to the bosses and the organization to create a leverage and work on the cons and try to enhance the pros, so that the resultant workforce remains satisfied, stress free and the working environment is transformed into a fruitful one.
A lot of businesses, employees, contractors, and freelancers seem to be either all for remote teams or completely against it. While remote work is an excellent way to work, it isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of understandable disadvantages of working from home. But they don’t necessarily overshadow the disadvantages of co-located teams, either.
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.

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.

Movies and TV shows from the likes of Devil Wears Prada to Rules of Engagement make us laugh and feel sorry for the personal assistants. Their lives are consumed by ego-maniacal tyrants paying them no more than a couple of funny pennies per hour. Luckily, apart from the odd unfortunate exception, the reality is much different. Yes, sometimes personal assistants are asked to do menial tasks ranging from the humiliating to the humdrum, and they are often asked to be on duty round the clock, but it usually pays off in more ways than one.
Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.

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A time zone converter. Teams that include members from different time zones often struggle with finding the best times to collaborate. A time zone converter can assist virtual workers in planning the best times for meetings, and it can remind employees to remain conscientious of the time in their teammates’ zones. Every Time Zone is a web-based, aesthetically pleasing app that converts time zone differences in a simple, easy-to-comprehend format.
Provide a time tracking tool for remote workers to monitor their billable hours. This is also good to make sure your remote team members don’t get burnt out working overtime. Managers should be able to view this time data and see which projects their team members are working on in real time. At Hubstaff, we use our own software, which supports randomized screenshots, app tracking, URL monitoring, productivity gauges, and detailed time reports. It also provides a breakdown of where someone has spent their time on an organization, project, and task level.

They’re more work to manage and have a time overhead compared to someone at the office is a big part. It’s also easy to forget and ignore remote workers and it can be harder to evaluate their productivity. A culture that has a mix of remote and non-remote has the remotes pretty isolated as the normal way of communicating things has them left out. (source)
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.”
Virtual workplaces also provides the company a bigger pool of resources, since it allows them to choose the best and most capable employees for the job, regardless of their location. This is definitely an advantage in information technology and computer science, where some positions require very specific skills sets and experiences that may be difficult to find locally
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.
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.
“Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.”
I never would have guessed that having a personal assistant could be so beneficial. I really like how you said that “If you are trying to build an online personal brand, PA’s can also help with managing your social media profiles.” I have never worked with a personal assistant before but I can imagine how helpful one can be when it comes to handling things like social media and paper work.

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.
When we first considered the idea of a distributed team, the biggest question revolved around whether we would be able to get the work done. The answer is yes, we were able to complete the work. The problem is, it's hard to overstate the importance of collaboration and synergy within a team. These elements are the foundation of an employee's enthusiasm, passion and sense of value to the company, and distributed staffs struggle with achieving these. - Dan Pennell, WMtek

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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