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.
Communication on a distributed team is a whole other ballgame. I never realized how much I took co-located colleagues for granted until there was no one beside me I could ask a quick question. Every question, every answer, every approval will be documented on a remote team. This makes for great records, but bulky loads of information to sort through.
A recent study at Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. found that married people who work from home are happier than traditional workers. The conclusion that working at home could make you happier if you’re married is based in part on housework and home-based chores. Married remote workers reported feeling there was a fairer and more gender-neutral division of work done around the house. The study was based on responses from thousands of workers based in Switzerland and the U.K. The study found that “working from home made married couples perceivably happier, although there was no effect on the love life of single employees in the U.K.”
The ability to interview them in person a number of times and carry out a trial to see if they are a suitable fit for you. A trial is a great no risk way for all parties to see if the assistant is the right person for the job. It is a very personal job working closely with the employer so it is very important to work out if both parties are going to be happy before making a long term commitment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Marketing Assistant – Similar to the function of a social media assistant, a virtual assistant is a great tool for marketing. This would include assisting with launching any marketing campaigns and tracking their success. A virtual assistant can be used to assist implementing your marketing plan by helping with email campaigns. They can assist you with this by first scraping your email list to ensure that all the addresses are updated and do not include any errors. This can include helping you segment your lists as well source them. Secondly, they can help you implement and track the analytics of the email campaign itself. Another great way to use a virtual assistant in marketing is to have them promote any blogs that you may have. This is a much needed aspect for any business that has a blog. It must be promoted, updated, and managed. So all these tasks are great to delegate to your virtual assistant.
Diverse multicultural teams: Virtual teams, more often than not, are made up of individual with different cultures, each of which has their own customs, values and work habits. This becomes a challenge as each person automatically follows their own way of working and interacting with others. Managers will need to learn to find common grounds between different team members.
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.
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.
Increase cross-cultural awareness. People involved in global teams should know and understand the challenges that come with communicating across cultures. For example, an American multinational oil and gas corporation wanted to ensure their non-Iraqi employees were equipped with the cultural knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the Iraqi context. Aperian Global worked with corporation leaders and local Iraqis to design a workshop for multinational employees assigned to Iraq, and it was offered in the US and the Middle East. A pre-departure workshop was also created for employees traveling to Iraq. It addressed issues such as safety, security, and health, as well as business and cultural topics. The workshops gave leaders and employees the information, skills and confidence needed to successfully collaborate and conduct business across cultural boundaries.
Web Site Designer/Administrator – You will find a pool of virtual assistants who specialize in website design and management. You will find a lot of virtual assistants in this arena who are experts in web creation using software such as WordPress and others like it. Specifically, you can easily find virtual assistants who promote WordPress as their niche. If your company needs assistance with its website, which includes a blog, using this type of virtual assistant would be great for your business.