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.
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.
When you work from home, you don't get the benefits of employee interactions. These benefits that an organization gains are hardly documented or understood. Many complex "back and forths" in a work-from-home setting can be quickly discussed and decided over the water cooler in an office setting. You work at work and enjoy home at home. Don't work from home and home at work. - Bastin Gerald, Apptivo
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.
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.
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.
Employees from the younger generations of workers--Generation X and Generation Y, in particular--find virtual work a tremendous benefit. Virtual offices and telecommuting offer flexibility, and the comfort of being able to work independently without conforming to work rules, such as a dress code and traditional work hours. Telecommuting is appealing to some workers because it prevents the often unnecessary and unwelcome interruptions by co-workers and managers that can impede productivity and attentiveness.
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
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.
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.
I am 63 and currently working as a remote Virtual Assistant. It requires self discipline, integrity and accountability. If you have these qualities, the benefits are awesome – I have never been happier! Better work-life balance, increased productivity, less stress and no commuting. Technology is not only for the millenials, but for silver surfers too.
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.
Small-business owners often wonder how they can work so hard all day and accomplish so little. Much of the problem is an inability to multitask. If you are doing important work in your office but are interrupted by an equally important call or question from an employee, for example, you’re forced to divert your attention away from the original project. In this way, your focus is strained and nothing receives the attention it deserves. A personal assistant can handle these types of intrusions so you can continue to focus on what's most important.
“Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.”
“Face-to-face interaction is generally lost, and there’s no substitute for this during some activities, especially those more collaborative in nature. Video conferencing can sometimes offset this, but it’s not a perfect replacement. Feeling like a cohesive team is more difficult, and some people can never get past that. (Manifesting both with those in the office feeling like remote workers aren’t being part of the team, and remote workers feeling like they aren’t treated like they are real teammates.)” (source)
Greater Flexibility - The main plus for those who enjoy working virtually rather than going to the office every day is the flexibility it offers. Remote workers have complete control over their schedules, so balancing personal and work life is much easier. Research on the topic suggests that 75% of employees would prefer to work remotely if they had the chance and most who do are much happier.
When I try out a personal assistant, I give them two weeks of probation no matter how much I may love them in an interview. This gives me a chance to see how reliable they are and how comfortable I feel with them. During this time, I may pay them half the going rate to see how much they want to do the job right and follow through. If you have to let them go, be humble and smart: “I’m not sure it’s a great fit for either of us” is much more tactful than “You suck.”
Use time zones to your advantage. Timezones are a great and terrible thing. On one hand, I know what it’s like to wake up at 6 a.m. for a meeting. Or sleep at 3 a.m. waiting for an update from the team. I’ve also seen the benefits of having a person online at all times for our customers. This is especially powerful in customer support. It allows for 24/7 support with just a few strategically placed (literally) people. Time.is is a great way to compare what time it is (and will be) in other places and can help you keep track of the time where your other team members are. And don’t fret, because you’ll get the hang of it. I often forget what time it is where I am. But after working on a remote team for 3 years, I’ve learned how to do timezone calculations almost subconsciously. Just be sure to set an alarm for Daylight Savings.
Reflecting the global reach of remote work, a survey in Ireland found that about two-thirds of the country’s workers weren’t adequately equipped to work effectively from home on snow days. The survey by Ricoh Ireland, conducted in collaboration with TechPro magazine, was based on questions put to IT professionals at more than 75 organizations across Ireland. Failing to offer technological support that supports working from home when needed can be detrimental to a company’s bottom line, the survey found.
Even if you can do all the administrative work yourself, why should you? The one hour a day you spend running to the post office, balancing the checkbook, or booking airline tickets would be better spent calling prospects, learning, or thinking strategically. Always try to spend as much time as possible using your unique strengths on your highest leverage activities. Running out to Staples to buy printer paper probably doesn’t fall into that category.