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.
My team has been distributed evenly between in-office and remote workers from the start. As we've grown, one of the most critical dynamics we've seen develop is the need to transcribe all discussions to accommodate remote co-workers in varying time zones. This has created an impeccable auditing system for when we've needed to pull up information instantly to tackle problems, disagreements or work opportunities. - George Georgallides, XO
Conflicts, Lack of Trust & Collaboration - The cultural differences between the members of virtual teams gives rise to number of conflicts. For example, while an American would write a straightforward email describing a bad situation, this would be perceived as impolite by a South Asian (say Japanese) member of the team. This would lead to conflicts, mistrust and difficulties in fruitful collaboration which is so vital for the success of virtual team functioning. These challenges are also precipitated by the absence of non-verbal cues so intrinsic to face-to-face interactions.
Equip your team with knowledge of the basic aims and foundations of your company. Make sure everyone is familiar with the company values enough so that if they need to make an urgent, educated guess, they’re likely to make the right one for the business. For example, do you lean toward transparency or discretion? Do you prioritize action or caution?
Keep in mind that if you pay someone more than $600 per calendar year, the IRS has pretty strict guidelines about making sure you issue a 1099. Of course, that means the assistant has to pay taxes on the earned income, which dents his bottom line. So you can always make the choice to pay an assistant under the table. What you do is up to you, but let me repeat: Always keep in mind what tax laws dictate, and make smart choices based on that.
Don’t completely neglect face-to-face meetings. If it’s possible, organize a face-to-face encounter for the first meeting. It’s possible to be successful without ever meeting in person, but there isn’t a replacement for face-to-face contact in person. Meeting physically allows people to share a deeper personal connection. Eye contact, proximity, voice, and body language allow people to connect more closely than they would if they met virtually. If meeting in person for the first time isn’t possible, consider holding an annual gathering or other event to keep employees in touch.
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.
With all the allure of a couch, mid-day naps, Netflix, virtual reality games, drum lessons, airline flight sale alerts, and whatever small distractions there are in a day, it’s no surprise that managers worry about work productivity for their employees out of the office. They are at the mercy of beckoning chores. A full pantry of things to snack on. “Quick” walks to the park, and so much more that can distract them from work. I can see how easy it would be for tasks to take longer. For example, a task that would take one hour in an office could take five hours with distractions.
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.
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)
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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.
When you hire employees to work remotely, your talent pool is endless. Gone are the days of being bound to hiring and recruiting talent from a specific geographical location. By offering remote opportunities, you are also providing access to those individuals who may not be able to work outside of the home, such as those with disabilities. Additionally, virtual employment offers an alternative that may have otherwise kept parents and caregivers out of the workforce.
Freedom to travel: With no need of a visa or transportation to a physical location, people can access their virtual office from basically anywhere in the world, giving them the freedom to choose their physical work space. Today we have many digital nomads who claim to be more productive in a virtual work setting as compared to being in an office. We know from experience that that is a fact!
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.
Greater Flexibility - The main plus for those who enjoy working virtually rather than going to the office every day is the flexibility it offers. Remote workers have complete control over their schedules, so balancing personal and work life is much easier. Research on the topic suggests that 75% of employees would prefer to work remotely if they had the chance and most who do are much happier.
“If the employer and the client are not comfortable conversing in the same spoken language, it is almost guaranteed that the project will cost more money and be delayed. When dealing with a client or employer that does not have the competence of a native speaker in your language you must specify exactly what you need, as if you were talking to a child or machine. Most of the horror stories you see on sites like TDWTF are results of poor communication, not incompetence or malice.” (source)
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.
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.
Often, the challenge for startups and other small companies is having the resources to hire an employee with as much of this expertise as possible at the lowest possible investment. Finding all of this in one individual at the experience level required can be daunting. The virtual team can provide the answer in fields such as human resources, finance and marketing.