A virtual assistant is a highly skilled professional who offers business support services virtually. This can consist of an individual or a team of virtual assistants with virtually meaning they are located off site and work remotely. They are independent contractors and entrepreneurs who specialize in providing an array of services such as administrative, creative, technical, and legal support.
Newer Opportunities - If we see at larger societal level, virtual teams have created newer opportunities for people who are less mobile and hesitant to relocate due to either family requirement or physical challenge. Now any task that does not require the physical presence of a person and which can be supported by communication technology throws an opportunity for many deserving candidates.
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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
Social Isolation - Many members of virtual teams are adversely affected by the lack of physical interactions. Most of the communications in virtual environment is task-oriented. In today’s society where job is an important social force for most of us because many of our workplace colleagues also constitute our close friends, this gives a not-so-good feeling of social isolation. This in turn counter-effects productivity as well as leads to stress.
If you're an overworked entrepreneur wondering why your to-do list always seems unfinished, look into hiring a personal assistant. I once had a mentor tell me that a key to day-to-day success is to hire a PA to keep the trains running on time while you focus on big picture ideas. At first, I thought it was a waste of money, but now I completely understand where he's coming from.
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).
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!
The phrases “remote work,” “distributed teams,” and “digital nomad” are becoming more and more trendy on the Internet. A lot of companies and virtual employees (us included) are writing about why it’s so great to be able to work from across the world and on your own schedule. Basically, there are a lot of benefits of working remotely for both employers and employees.
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.
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.
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.
One option is to look at remote work as a benefit, not a policy. In today’s (and tomorrow’s) economy, there are going to be vast opportunities both online and locally. Opening or closing the door on remote work and distributed teams can be a great decision if it aligns with your strategy, goals, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, that decision doesn’t have to be final. Co-located teams can successfully go remote, and teams that started out remotely can decide to get an office space.
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