To sum it up, there are a lot of valid reasons managers and agencies shy away from remote workers. It’s hard to blame them. However, for those who want to give a distributed team a shot, there are avenues and tools for you to try. I encourage anyone on the fence about remote work to try it out by starting small. Hire a freelancer or independent contractor, or give your team one or two days a week to work remotely. See how it goes (and share in the comments).
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!
Many strategies that worked for managers in the past will be impossible with a remote team. No more getting the team together after lunch for a project post-mortem, no more doing walkarounds to make sure everyone is working, and no more being able to visit someone’s desk and demand their attention. Remote work could make much of traditional management practices useless.
Web Site Designer/Administrator – You will find a pool of virtual assistants who specialize in website design and management. You will find a lot of virtual assistants in this arena who are experts in web creation using software such as WordPress and others like it. Specifically, you can easily find virtual assistants who promote WordPress as their niche. If your company needs assistance with its website, which includes a blog, using this type of virtual assistant would be great for your business.
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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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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.
Stats about remote work show that 82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels, according to one study, and that’s a good thing not only for remote workers, but for the companies that employ them. The study by PGI, a leading provider of software services, found that 80% of workers reported higher morale when working from home, while 69% reported lower absenteeism.
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.
Marketing Assistant – Similar to the function of a social media assistant, a virtual assistant is a great tool for marketing. This would include assisting with launching any marketing campaigns and tracking their success. A virtual assistant can be used to assist implementing your marketing plan by helping with email campaigns. They can assist you with this by first scraping your email list to ensure that all the addresses are updated and do not include any errors. This can include helping you segment your lists as well source them. Secondly, they can help you implement and track the analytics of the email campaign itself. Another great way to use a virtual assistant in marketing is to have them promote any blogs that you may have. This is a much needed aspect for any business that has a blog. It must be promoted, updated, and managed. So all these tasks are great to delegate to your virtual assistant.
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
A recent study on “the state of remote work” by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that remote employees have “slightly higher levels of investment in their work,” and benefit from “clearer boundaries and work habits” needed to be successful. The data, based on responses from 1,097 workers across the U.S., reinforces findings from previous research showing that people who work from home are fully engaged with fellow team members, and often are more productive.
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.
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Instead of taking the mediocre candidate in your area, you can hire the superstar who lives on the other side of the country. Limiting yourself to hiring within your locality restricts you to a small talent pool. You may be forced to settle for mediocre talent simply because you need the position filled. Companies that hire remote workers have a larger pool of top-notch talent. - Eilon Reshef, Gong.io
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.
Virtual work benefits the environment because fewer people are traveling in cars, buses and trains, which lowers the amount of vehicle emissions and decreases fuel usage. In 2007, CNET News published an article touting the benefits of telecommuting with statistics pertaining to congestion and traffic in Texas. Commuters face significant increases in traffic congestion in all 437 metropolitan areas in the United States. Adding up all the associated costs, the Texas Transportation Institute in early 2000 concluded that gridlock cost $78 billion annually in terms of 4.2 billion lost hours, not to mention 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. That's one convincing argument for telecommuting, especially in an area such as Houston where environmental pollutants are a serious concern.
Collaboration is an important factor in teamwork in the workplace and also still possible for remote workers! Collaboration tools for virtual teams are plentiful and have many different uses. There are many that allow instant and clear communication among remote team workers, such as Slack for instant text-based communication or Zoom for easy conference calling. Other helpful applications include Github, a smart software development tool, and World Time Buddy, that allows you to sync up the different locations of team members to find a time that everyone can meet!
At HomeCareDirect, we believe that in order to have a long term, stable support package delivered by a great care team, it is important that your personal assistants are happy and well looked after. Therefore, our service is not only designed to help you direct your own support – it’s also designed to support your personal assistants to successfully work in this innovative and rewarding way. HomeCareDirect employ hundreds of personal assistants nationwide on people’s behalf. If you choose us to employ your personal assistants on your behalf, you’ll not have the responsibility of being their employer whilst they’ll have the benefits of being employed by an organisation with a wealth of experience of supporting personal assistants.
Staying in the office throughout the workday is the best way to conduct a business. The use of virtual training allows employees to take a training workshop within the comforts of their office, pausing the training as needed to handle daily office demands. Streamlining the training program through virtual training creates an even better expeditious business.
A file-sharing service. Virtual teams need a place to share files. A file-sharing service will allow employees to store, access and share files in a secure location. Dropbox is one major platform for file sharing, but there are plenty of other popular services available, such as Google Drive and OneDrive. If you have highly regulated IT guidelines, it may be worthwhile to invest in your own IT-approved system.
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.
Virtual work or telecommuting requires self-discipline, motivation and a tremendous amount of focus. Individuals who do their best work independently are often the happiest with telecommuting than workers who need to have regular contact with others. The managers who supervise telecommuters bear a large responsibility as well. Managing employees remotely can be very challenging, and it is ultimately the manager's responsibility for determining which of their employees demonstrate the necessary skills and traits for performing successfully in a remote location.
Reduced Ability to Collaborate - Even with video chat or video conferencing, employees lack the ability to sit face-to-face and collaborate on projects. This can lead to communication issues if everyone is just doing their own thing. Fortunately, marketing teams can change this by using collaborative software that helps an online marketing process with automated blog posting and other functions to keep everyone in the loop.
One is the jealousy aspect. I’ve been in semi-remote teams wherein only a few people (or even just me) were allowed to work from home. What has worked for me in the past is to clarify responsibilities between my manager and colleagues. Then deliver unfailingly. Once a team learns to appreciate your work, it shouldn’t matter whether you do it beside them or from somewhere else.