Security is often overlooked when a business decides to allow employees to work remotely, leaving companies vulnerable to cybercriminals. Although there are cloud options to make remote work easier, with today’s internet of threats, companies cannot afford to overlook protecting their confidential and proprietary information. - Tammy Cohen, InfoMart

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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.)

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.

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.
Establish an onboarding process. Be sure that every employee who collaborates virtually has the same onboarding experience. They should be given access to the same communication systems and handbooks that explain the company processes. Everyone should be given the same advice and tools for success as they’re brought on board. If possible, it can even be very valuable to have an initial onboarding done face-to-face in an office location.
When we first considered the idea of a distributed team, the biggest question revolved around whether we would be able to get the work done. The answer is yes, we were able to complete the work. The problem is, it's hard to overstate the importance of collaboration and synergy within a team. These elements are the foundation of an employee's enthusiasm, passion and sense of value to the company, and distributed staffs struggle with achieving these. - Dan Pennell, WMtek
With the dynamic environment in the UAE and busy routine lifestyles, it is difficult to have a work-life balance. Our lifestyle, personal demands and work pressures can have a huge impact on the way we approach our work and our lives. Irrespective of the level of seniority, delegating some of your daily tasks to a personal assistant can be life changing. Whether you are a business owner or a manager, having a personal assistant by your side can have great benefits in maximising productivity in the business.

You probably have exciting plans and concepts that get derailed and diluted by worldly problems. Most people with entrepreneurial spirits would rather focus on creative business ideas than do paperwork and answer the phone all day. By hiring a personal assistant, you can free yourself to play to your strengths. Tasks that aren’t your strong points or that diverge from your real talent can be delegated to your assistant, giving you the time and space to do what you do best. A personal assistant can create a barrier between you and the outside world, allowing you to think, flesh out ideas and avoid distractions.
In all fairness, despite its glorious perks, being a personal assistant is not for everybody. You often need to sacrifice your own hopes and dreams for the sake of the person you work for, but making that sacrifice might just be the one thing that helps you reach something you never even dreamed of achieving. Just think about Pepper Potts in Iron Man: she started off as an assistant but ended up being in charge of the entire Stark Industries.
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.

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Virtual work benefits the environment because fewer people are traveling in cars, buses and trains, which lowers the amount of vehicle emissions and decreases fuel usage. In 2007, CNET News published an article touting the benefits of telecommuting with statistics pertaining to congestion and traffic in Texas. Commuters face significant increases in traffic congestion in all 437 metropolitan areas in the United States. Adding up all the associated costs, the Texas Transportation Institute in early 2000 concluded that gridlock cost $78 billion annually in terms of 4.2 billion lost hours, not to mention 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. That's one convincing argument for telecommuting, especially in an area such as Houston where environmental pollutants are a serious concern.
The word “assistant” is often considered a synonym to the word “slave”. The truth is, though, that if you’ve landed a job as somebody’s personal assistant, you’ve become one of the most powerful people imaginable. You are now the gatekeeper of the castle that is your employer, and the more they trust you, the more they are willing to pay you. And since it probably took a while to train you and to establish a bond with you, they are not likely to let you go that easily.
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.
Trouble separating work from home. When you work from home, it’s easy to become distracted by your children, neighbors, friends, or home responsibilities. Because you’re home, you’ll be more aware of things that need to be done around the house. In addition, those who work from home often have a hard time transitioning from work life to home life. With constant access to their work while at home, it can be hard to stop working for the day, especially when there’s a lot to accomplish.
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.

To sum it up, there are a lot of valid reasons managers and agencies shy away from remote workers. It’s hard to blame them. However, for those who want to give a distributed team a shot, there are avenues and tools for you to try. I encourage anyone on the fence about remote work to try it out by starting small. Hire a freelancer or independent contractor, or give your team one or two days a week to work remotely. See how it goes (and share in the comments).
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.
“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)

Many celebrities choose to have a personal assistant at their side much of the day, to take care of all the details that could cause problems if not dealt with on a timely manner. Because they are not working in an office and they are frequently moving from place to place, the PA is the perfect solution to their problems and helping keep them organized.
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
"At Trello, we've found it beneficial to create activities like online trivia nights and coffee meetings. We also try to recreate those casual 'water cooler moments' you experience in a physical office with our team chat and video conferencing tools," Pryor said. "We've also created multiple social channels for employees to share their hobbies, fitness goals or silly pictures of their kids. Especially in virtual teams, you need these opportunities to connect on a human 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.

If you are developing a business that is online, you should check out http://www.odesk.com. You can hire talented assistants for most types of tasks. I hired world-class designers and programmers to build my iTunes app business at low cost. oDesk takes care of the tax forms and payments to your assistants. Pretty nifty and you only pay for work that gets done. You could likely set up a local virtual assistant through their system if you need help at your office.
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.
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
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.

Often, the challenge for startups and other small companies is having the resources to hire an employee with as much of this expertise as possible at the lowest possible investment. Finding all of this in one individual at the experience level required can be daunting. The virtual team can provide the answer in fields such as human resources, finance and marketing.

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.


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.  
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and Business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.
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.
Allowing workers to work from home or from wherever they choose allows them to have flexible schedules for their work and personal lives. It allows them to create their own time frames according to company-set deadlines and to make up time if they need to attend to an appointment that they normally would have to request a whole day off from work for.
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.
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.
I doubt many companies like or prefer that employees work from home. We allow the policy in order to be able to attract employees who would otherwise go elsewhere. We are heavy users of Slack, Confluence and other collaboration tools that make working at home more productive, but they cannot replace the serendipitous interactions that occur while hanging out by the nitro-coffee keg. - Manuel Vellon, Level 11
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.
Some employers offer limited or full benefits to a personal assistant. These benefits can include medical and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. The addition of benefits, even limited ones, can help to bolster a lower salary amount, helping to attract more candidates to the position. The cost of any added benefits should be calculated into the salary package offered.
If you hire locally in your own city you are greatly restricting the available talent pool that you can draw upon. You can also use the cost savings from virtual teams to pay more to your team members. The combination of being able to hire from anywhere, and potentially pay more will greatly increase the level of talent that you can attract in your business.
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.)
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

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