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.
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.
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.
I can use my own experience as an example for this. When I worked with a marketing agency in America, I was encouraged to voice my opinions, even if they went against our founder. When I consulted with businesses in the Philippines, a common complaint was about employees always saying “yes” to whatever their managers want (even if they couldn’t deliver).
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and Business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.
It doesn't matter if you are running a lean start-up or a long-running profitable business. You always have the chance of enjoying the benefits of virtual teams. When you have a virtual team, you not only see less staffing costs, but also profit from a workforce that is highly motivated and productive. Confused if this decision would prove to be right for you? Don't worry. Here are some reasons for you to consider setting up a virtual team.
According to a Gallup poll in 2007, the average commute time is 48.1 minutes round trip. While the commute by itself may not sound like a long time, there are other factors that can increase this. For example, the time to do things to get ready for work (such as taking a shower, getting dressed and having breakfast) can take another 30 minutes to an hour so adding these activities to the commute time can bring up the "non-work time" to 90 to 120 minutes. An employee can get so much more work done in that time if they did not have to travel into an office. According to the Telework Research Network, companies such as JD Edwards, AT&T and Compaq reported that their telecommuting employees are more productive than their office counterparts.2
Invest in VPNs. Virtual private networks encrypt your data and provide secure access to a remote computer over the Internet. It basically extends a private network over a public one, such as the Internet. These are excellent for keeping your files and data secure, yet accessible to remote workers. I use Browsec right now, but there are plenty of others.
A decision-making tool. Sometimes teams struggle to come to a decision, and this is especially true in the virtual setting. A helpful decision-making tool can alleviate the stress that comes with making difficult decisions, because it will allow team members to easily vote, tally the results, and present everyone with the final outcome. Loomio and Tricider are helpful decision-making tools that allow members to vote and quickly understand the likely outcome.
Use time zones to your advantage. Timezones are a great and terrible thing. On one hand, I know what it’s like to wake up at 6 a.m. for a meeting. Or sleep at 3 a.m. waiting for an update from the team. I’ve also seen the benefits of having a person online at all times for our customers. This is especially powerful in customer support. It allows for 24/7 support with just a few strategically placed (literally) people. Time.is is a great way to compare what time it is (and will be) in other places and can help you keep track of the time where your other team members are. And don’t fret, because you’ll get the hang of it. I often forget what time it is where I am. But after working on a remote team for 3 years, I’ve learned how to do timezone calculations almost subconsciously. Just be sure to set an alarm for Daylight Savings.
If you’re a busy person trying to make headway in your business and financial life, a personal assistant might seem like an expense you can’t afford. But to get rich, you have to think like rich people do, and the first step begins with what I call “abundance mentality.” A person who lacks this looks at the possibility of a personal assistant and says, “Oh no, I can’t afford that.”
Leverage Global Talent - Virtual Teams allows organizations to look for talent beyond their country of origin. This brings together the experts and specialists from across the globe to work together on the project. Increased knowledge sharing and greater innovation happens as organization’s human capital share their understanding of global and local markets as well as best business practices.
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.
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.
If I ask Eric to perform research, I give him all the tools and instructions he needs to do a great job. Yes, that takes time, but it’s minimal compared to the amount of time he saves me. What’s more, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to “do this” if you don’t at least tell them how you want it done. It’s like sending someone for coffee and not telling them what you want in it. (Note: I’ve never once sent a personal assistant for coffee, though I’ll get coffee for him. It reinforces the humility aspect of things.)
Many celebrities choose to have a personal assistant at their side much of the day, to take care of all the details that could cause problems if not dealt with on a timely manner. Because they are not working in an office and they are frequently moving from place to place, the PA is the perfect solution to their problems and helping keep them organized.
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.
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.
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.
Companies are increasingly embracing “remote, agile” teams to complete projects and meet deadlines, according to a study by the freelancing website Upwork. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based managers found that the continuing “skills gap” is driving the trend toward hiring more virtual workers. Still, many of those companies have yet to implement a formal remote work policy, the study concluded.
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.