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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.
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.
Virtual offices, telecommuting and telework all mean essentially the same thing: employees work from another location outside of the traditional office. Virtual offices and telecommuting have become immensely popular for some employers, and met with trepidation by others. The concept is a relatively new one, which makes it difficult to construct definitive policies that set clear parameters for working outside the traditional office environment. As with any work arrangement, there are advantages and disadvantages to virtual offices and telecommuting.
In short, if you use the right tools, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: Your employees can interact with one another as if they’re in the same room, and they can experience all of the benefits that come with working from home. It’s possible to reap the benefits of personal interaction, successful collaboration, and a productive work from home environment. This is possible with the right tools and knowledge for virtual collaboration.
Routine: Just like any other work, one of the main enemies of motivation is routine, and this poses a major risk especially in the virtual medium. Putting in long hours in front of a computer can lead to exhaustion, stress and a bunch of unmotivated employees. The team needs to have a constant source of positive motivation to keep this aspect from affecting its work.
Distributed work requires more discipline on behalf of the company and worker in order to ensure you are getting all the benefits, but it is worth it when you consider the diversity you reap. Differing opinions, viewpoints and work styles combine to make a better work environment and a group of employees who are more creative at solving problems and better at understanding their customers. - Lisbi Abraham, Andela

Make a list of tasks that will make up the job. Common tasks, such as running errands, data entry and answering telephones should not raise a personal assistant's pay. More challenging tasks, particularly those that are specialized, such as requiring your assistant to speak a second language, complete payroll for other staff members or travel for a long period of time, should be adequately compensated by raising the salary and offering a travel allowance. Also consider the time commitments of the job description. A personal assistant that works a standard business week may not make as much money as one who is on call or required to travel.

In short, if you use the right tools, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: Your employees can interact with one another as if they’re in the same room, and they can experience all of the benefits that come with working from home. It’s possible to reap the benefits of personal interaction, successful collaboration, and a productive work from home environment. This is possible with the right tools and knowledge for virtual collaboration.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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.
Before I tell you about my personal assistant, why I have one, and the financial benefits of hiring one, I’m going to give you permission to make fun of me. That’s right: Assume his name is Jeeves or Alfred, that I ask him to wash out my dirty socks and filet my pheasant under glass. And since I can’t live in a palatial estate just yet, you can also assume I’m acting out some self-indulgent fantasy of being rich and important, even though you know, natch, that I’m neither one of those things.

Valuable Skill Set – Virtual assistants are highly skilled independent contractors, including administrative assistants, website administrators, and senior level executives, all of whom have had a broad range of experience. Most virtual assistants work in a specific niche, meaning they’ll understand your industry better than someone who doesn’t focus on a particular niche.
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.
A Virtual PA can be a clever alternative to employing staff. In fact for many who have taken the steps already it's the smarter way to do business. Technology now means that the traditional additions to a business can be outsourced with ease such as software and now staffing. More importantly it allows businesses to be totally adaptable and constantly flexible to industry changes ensuring that quick adjustments or more in depth changes can happen with the minimum of fuss or drain on your time. Imagine having to downsize or re-focus your business with an office full of staff. No matter how equipped you are its going to take time to make changes to the business. Alternatively expansions can be equally difficult to manage, Virtual PA services offer a solution designed for the modern business.
Online Research:You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Be sure to send clear instructions, along with user names and passwords so assistants can get access to specialty search tools or paid websites.  
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.

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Lock your phone and laptop. Make sure no one is able to access your devices without a password or fingerprint scan. Set your laptop to automatically lock if not in use for 5 minutes or more. This will keep your data safe. Google also provides a great phone tracking service. Just type “Where’s my phone?” In the Google search bar, or check out the Android Device Manager. There are also apps that take photos of whoever tries to unlock your phone or laptop with an incorrect password, such as GotYa! and Lockwatch.
Use varied channels of communication. There are many ways to communicate virtually. Lean methods include emails, chat messages, and texting. If you have a simple message to share, a lean method of communication is usually fine. If you have something deeper or more complicated to share, it’s better to opt for a richer method of communication, such as video conference or telephone call. These methods add more contextual information like facial expressions and body language, which can be very telling in a conversation.

Use varied channels of communication. There are many ways to communicate virtually. Lean methods include emails, chat messages, and texting. If you have a simple message to share, a lean method of communication is usually fine. If you have something deeper or more complicated to share, it’s better to opt for a richer method of communication, such as video conference or telephone call. These methods add more contextual information like facial expressions and body language, which can be very telling in a conversation.


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The conversation is twofold: Employees who work from home help companies reduce overhead costs, experience greater satisfaction in their jobs, and they’re more productive, but companies ultimately have the discretion to not offer work from home policies — or revoke them — if company leaders believe that managing a virtual workplace decreases speed or hinders collaboration. 

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