In the age of memes and Instagram, the switch to a virtual workforce is becoming more prevalent and appears to be the future for many companies. There are many benefits to this style of a workplace for both employees and employers. There are also some points to consider, such as collaboration, data sharing and security, as well as the possibility of a blended company of virtual and in-person employees.
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!
An automation service. Most jobs include at least a small amount of repetitive tasks that don’t require your personal input, such as transferring information from an email to a calendar or copying and pasting information onto a spreadsheet. For such tasks that use a lot of time and hinder overall productivity, consider an automation service. When simple tasks are automated, more time becomes available for tasks that do require your personal input. IFTTT and Zapier are examples of excellent automation services.
While one advantage of virtual offices is the creation of a larger pool of resources, this can also be a disadvantage because this means resources can also be obtained offshores or jobs can be outsourced to a different company. If positions can be filled by employees in a different city, what would keep companies from extending those positions to candidates in a different country?
Working independently with just a computer screen to keep you company is vastly different from the hustle and bustle of an office. When you hire remote workers, you can’t just pull them into a quick meeting (which some would argue is a good thing, since meetings waste time), or stop by their desks to see how work is going. There’s going to be some loss in camaraderie since you won’t see your team face-to-face every day.
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.