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.
A virtual team gives you an opportunity to tap into a wider talent pool. Instead of limiting your recruitment opportunities to those who can make the daily commute or those who are willing to relocate, you can focus on finding the best-qualified candidates without worrying about geographic limitations. Working with an experienced and skilled remote team can mean getting more done in less time.
Greater Productivity - Happier employees are more productive employees. When people can more easily balance work and personal lives and work in their own controlled environment, they deal with fewer distractions and become more productive. Add this to the increased efficiency your company can gain using automated article posting and productivity will soar.
Small-business owners often struggle to fulfill all their duties but are wary of taking on a partner or hiring a management team because they want to maintain the integrity of their vision or stay in complete control. If that sounds like you, you can bring your business to the next level without too much compromise or cost by hiring a personal assistant.
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.
At one of my first companies, we grew a remote team to more than 100 people. Often the members of this team would perform better than the people who came into the office every day because they weren't distracted by meetings and other interruptions common to a shared office. Collaboration occurred over video, chat and project management software. People focused on work, followed established processes and were held accountable for their productivity. - Danilo Stern-Sapad, FabFitFun
Isolation. When you work from home, it’s likely that you’ll experience less contact with other professionals in your field — especially for, but not limited to, individual contributor roles. You won’t have a daily commute, so you won’t encounter other people on your way to and from the office. You won’t bump into other workers at the water cooler for a casual conversation, or have lunch with your coworkers a few days a week. With fewer encounters with other people — and other professionals in your field — it’s easy to feel isolated, which can lead to a slump in progress or even depression.
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.
Social Media Assistant – Handling social media for businesses can become time consuming for business owners and other staff. This is time that can be spent on other revenue-generating tasks. However, because of its importance in a business’s marketing plan, it can be delegated to a virtual assistant. According to Chris Ducker, every business should have a social media plan . And this is an area where a virtual assistant can help out. A virtual assistant can plan and schedule your social media marketing on your Facebook business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google pages as well as on any other social media site that you use. They can research content, monitor and engage the users, and assist in building your network. This is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant, as most business spend anywhere from five to 20 plus hours per week on social media.
Leading Across Distance: This program is designed to provide leaders with the tools they need to propel results from their virtual teams. The program is broken up into three sessions: distance leadership, leading across cultural differences, and engaging virtual meetings. You will learn what you need to know about the most important aspects of distance leadership, how to effectively communicate in the virtual setting, how to leverage diversity and cultural differences, and more.
From my experience, remote team members have allowed my company to recruit from a larger talent pool worldwide versus being limited to the geographic location where our offices are located. From an employer's perspective, by going the contractor route (versus just remote), you pay for only the work being done, instead of a full payroll, while allowing flexibility and freedom within the position. - Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies
Virtual teams are on the rise. Due to technological advancements, it’s possible for workers to work from home and for their managers to ensure that work is done on time and to the highest standard. Benefits that go beyond cost savings, like boosted productivity and employee satisfaction, mean that remote team collaboration is not only good for business, but good for employees too.
Make building trust a priority. Trust is the foundation of a successful team, but trust is usually built over time. When working in a virtual team, there isn’t always time to build a rapport with team members. You might be part of a group and have no idea about the other people’s work ethics or anything about their personal lives. It’s important to promote team bonding in order to build trust. You can approach this in a few ways, such as setting aside time for small talk before or after meetings, and allowing participants to share photographs and information about their personal lives. Virtual events such as a baby shower, birthday, or job anniversary celebration make for great informal activities to promote trust and teamwork. Consistency in updates and reports also helps to build trust with and among remote employees.
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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Saving on Hiring a Full-Time Employee – A key benefit to using a virtual assistant for your business is the saving aspect. By working with a virtual assistant, you will save on the expense of hiring a full-time employee. This includes the amount of time and money spent on interviewing and training a new employee. This also includes the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance, employee-related benefits, and tax savings. As independent contractors, virtual assistants are responsible for their own bookkeeping and taxes. You will not have to worry about incurring such costs.
A time zone converter. Teams that include members from different time zones often struggle with finding the best times to collaborate. A time zone converter can assist virtual workers in planning the best times for meetings, and it can remind employees to remain conscientious of the time in their teammates’ zones. Every Time Zone is a web-based, aesthetically pleasing app that converts time zone differences in a simple, easy-to-comprehend format.
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
Another concern is the care that goes into a business. I’ve seen remote workers who were just as dedicated to their companies as local employees. I’ve seen in-office employees waste as much time as possible because they simply didn’t care about the business. The relationship between a manager and employee can affect how the employee sees the company as a whole. So in order to increase loyalty, remote team managers should be advocates and someone remote workers can trust.
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.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time since the turn of the century. According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home. Steadily increasing life expectancies and inadequate retirement savings have forced many Americans in this age group to delay retirement. Others choose to work into their 70s and beyond to stay active and engaged in their communities.
The overhead costs of a business are reduced if a business chooses to opt for a larger switch of hiring predominantly online employees. It may take more time to see the benefit of not having to pay the rent on an office building or for the utility bills if you still have a physical office location. There is also the option to blend a business to downsize an office space to have fewer employees onsite and more online that would see this benefit.
Engaging Virtual Meetings: If you’re interested in learning the skills needed to host and facilitate successful virtual meetings, you will find this program useful. It covers the four fundamental skills of virtual facilitation, information on how to properly prepare for meetings, and how to properly prepare for future meetings. The program was created for business professionals of any level.
“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)
Even with the right tools and adequate planning, virtual teams in the workplace can pose unique challenges for global companies of all sizes. An experienced talent development firm can help companies navigate the trials that come with virtual collaboration across cultural boundaries. Choose to work with a firm with a validated inventory in the market and a proven record for success.
The flexibility that comes with managing a virtual team is unparalleled, as it gives you the ability to alter the configuration according to the ever-evolving challenges. It's time for you to put together a highly motivated virtual team of your own that is ready to go above and beyond your expectations. With the right team available at your disposal at all times, success can't be very far away.
Provide a time tracking tool for remote workers to monitor their billable hours. This is also good to make sure your remote team members don’t get burnt out working overtime. Managers should be able to view this time data and see which projects their team members are working on in real time. At Hubstaff, we use our own software, which supports randomized screenshots, app tracking, URL monitoring, productivity gauges, and detailed time reports. It also provides a breakdown of where someone has spent their time on an organization, project, and task level.
Invest in communication structures. Despite added expenses of PM fees, software, virtual insurance, VPNs, etc., companies can stand to save a lot on the overhead costs of running an office. No rentals, no electricity bills, and no more perpetually purchasing office supplies. Use those savings to invest in online communication ecosystems. Teleport has a few great blog posts for communication in remote teams.
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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.
Try to get together in person at least once a year. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert brings his team together annually for a strategic planning meeting. They spend two days working and two days hanging out and getting to know each other. Zapier brings their distributed team together for regular team retreats where cooking, games, and lots of other team-building activities are involved.
No business is too big or small to use a PA, and with recent technological development with the internet, the new era of PA’s has come in the form of virtual assistants. Virtual assistants work remotely from their own home but undertake the same duties a normal PA would, and this can offer a cost effective alternative for smaller business who need help. So, what does a PA do? Some of the duties a personal assistant may undertake include email and calendar management, organising transportation, call handling, research and event planning. As an independent contractor, you might also use a PA for basic bookkeeping and invoicing your clients. If you are trying to build an online personal brand, PA’s can also help with managing your social media profiles.
Virtual collaboration offers a profound way to cater to employees with diverse working styles. For example, detailed-driven workers tend to excel in virtual environments. They typically have no trouble planning their workday and accomplishing daily tasks. Emotionally driven individuals may prefer to speak directly over the phone or face-to-face in a video conference, because they typically read social cues very well and prefer verbal communication. Idea-driven workers thrive when facilitating change and usually prefer a lead role in brainstorming solutions, so you should consider giving them more responsibility when strategizing in the virtual setting. Data-driven workers are highly adept at solving complex problems. They don’t typically need an extra push to stay on topic or on budget, but they may prefer to work alone quietly rather than lead a virtual group discussion.
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