Companies are increasingly embracing “remote, agile” teams to complete projects and meet deadlines, according to a study by the freelancing website Upwork. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based managers found that the continuing “skills gap” is driving the trend toward hiring more virtual workers. Still, many of those companies have yet to implement a formal remote work policy, the study concluded.

In the age of memes and Instagram, the switch to a virtual workforce is becoming more prevalent and appears to be the future for many companies. There are many benefits to this style of a workplace for both employees and employers. There are also some points to consider, such as collaboration, data sharing and security, as well as the possibility of a blended company of virtual and in-person employees.
I’ve never had to run an ad on Craigslist, but I would definitely consider it, as it’s a great way to have the applicants come to you. Thus far, I’ve used word of mouth with great results. People you trust will tend to only recommend people they trust, which saves a lot of time vetting candidates for honesty and integrity. That’s super important because just like a housekeeper or a babysitter, a personal assistant will get to know some key things about you (maybe even your digital passwords). You have to make sure they’re 110 percent trustworthy, and nothing less. It’s certainly possible to find that golden person with an ad, but recommendations from your mentors and posse will streamline the search process.

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.

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.

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While one advantage of virtual offices is the creation of a larger pool of resources, this can also be a disadvantage because this means resources can also be obtained offshores or jobs can be outsourced to a different company. If positions can be filled by employees in a different city, what would keep companies from extending those positions to candidates in a different country?
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.

A collaboration and community platform. Virtual workers need a virtual office — a place where they can meet online and hold conversations. It’s easy for virtual workers to become isolated, so a central hub to communicate with colleagues is a benefit. Skype, Slap, HipChat, and Pie are all popular choices. The best collaboration and community platforms connect employees, give them a place to chat and discuss projects, leave feedback and suggestions, and more.

Companies of all sizes report significant decreases in operating costs, remote work stats show. Two examples from big companies, according to a Forbes magazine report: Aetna (where some 14,500 of 35,000 employees don’t have an “in-office” desk) shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options.
A greater part of the day can be devoted to job duties, projects and other work-related responsibilities because commuting time is eliminated. In some densely populated areas, commuters spend upwards of 10 hours each week just going to and from work. Telecommuters could put to use the saved time by dedicating more of their time to office work, or to achieving a work life balance by spending time with family.
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.
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.
Customer Service Representative – For a busy entrepreneur, customer service is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can forward calls to your virtual assistant, and they can become a virtual call center designated specifically for your business. With the enhancement of technology, there are companies such as Ring Central that make this an easy option for small businesses. Additionally, the virtual assistant can handle any follow-up calls as needed.

A robust 68% of job seekers who are millennials said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers, according to a survey by AfterCollege, a career network for college students and recent grads. “Policies that cultivate a flexible, fun, and casual work environment have a positive impact” on young people’s interest in specific employers, the survey found.

Virtual team is an emerging new-age trend with followers across business sectors. Just like any other new trend, virtual team also has to undergo strict scrutiny of researchers to weigh its advantages and disadvantages before being accepted by the professionals. The advantages and disadvantages of virtual teams can be looked upon from three levels - individual, organizational and societal as a whole. This article summarizes different perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual team and serves as ready reference guide to our readers.
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.
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.
Let’s face it: commuting can be a killer, especially if it’s a long one. Studies have shown that uber long commutes can take a toll on workers, ranging from everything from high cholesterol, neck and back pain, as well as elevated stress levels. (It’s even been linked to higher divorce rates, too!) When you eliminate the commute, you can begin to work earlier—and with far less stress. Sans a lengthy, energy-zapping commute, you’ll feel far more refreshed in the morning and eager to start your workday earlier…just because you can.

Having a virtual office can cause employees to miss out on the social advantage of being in an office. Virtual employees can suffer from the "out of sight, out of mind" effect, in which they could be passed on for promotions or opportunities because they weren't in the office for management to consider them. They also can miss out on networking opportunities which could lead to other options in the company. 
With software and programs such as GoToMeeting, PC Anywhere and Gotomypc, companies are now able to meet with anyone around the world without having to actually travel to the person’s locations. While these programs may not totally eliminate the need for travel, they can provide cost savings to companies by minimizing the need to travel for meetings or services. For example, a traveling sales person can use a remote webinar to provide an initial sales pitch and then travel to those that have the true potential to be customers rather than travel to every prospective customer. Account managers or support personnel can also more easily serve their accounts without having to actually be on location.
Return on investment is the very close cousin of cost-benefit, but in this case, I will apply it in a strictly financial sense, and use my real-life work as an example. My personal assistant, whose name is Eric, does a lot of research, logistics, and planning for me as a journalist. Because he expands my efficiency, I’m free to take on more assignments and make more money. I would estimate that for the $50 investment I make for each week I hire him out, I make twice as much money minimum because of his help. So if I pocket $100 I wouldn’t otherwise make, and pay him $50, the return on investment is $50. Makes sense? (By the way, that’s during a slow week. Sometimes the return on investment is two or three times as much.)
All these disadvantages can be overcome by following a different leadership/managerial approach, trainings, greater role clarity and effective communication strategies. Organization both big ones such as IBM, Microsoft, Whirlpool as well as SMEs are reaping the benefits of virtual teams for some time now. It has been a well-recognized fact that Virtual Team is not a passing tide but it is here to stay.
"Managing Virtual Teams (MVT) provided workable solutions that could be implemented right away for long term success. I went into the course hoping to grab a few tips and tricks but instead experienced a hands-on workshop that was tailored to my organization's needs." Megan West, Digital Communications Manager. Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)

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.
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.
While I completely agree that co-location can lead to a better collaboration, if not serendipity, in a global world with scarcity in best-in-class talent, organizations should retune themselves to have a distributed workplace. A well-designed distributed workplace enabled by the right technology can make a virtual playground for innovation, if not for highly productive work. - Madhavan Satagopan, Altimetrik Corp

A lot of businesses, employees, contractors, and freelancers seem to be either all for remote teams or completely against it. While remote work is an excellent way to work, it isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of understandable disadvantages of working from home. But they don’t necessarily overshadow the disadvantages of co-located teams, either.
Virtual team is an emerging new-age trend with followers across business sectors. Just like any other new trend, virtual team also has to undergo strict scrutiny of researchers to weigh its advantages and disadvantages before being accepted by the professionals. The advantages and disadvantages of virtual teams can be looked upon from three levels - individual, organizational and societal as a whole. This article summarizes different perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual team and serves as ready reference guide to our readers.
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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