Luckily, challenges bring with them opportunities. Company leaders managing remote employees can take action to circumvent the possible negative effects of remote work. They can require remote workers to check in with another employee or manager every day, simply to engage in a friendly conversation, and enjoy some personal facetime to break up the workday, as would be normal in an office setting.
According to a Gallup poll in 2007, the average commute time is 48.1 minutes round trip. While the commute by itself may not sound like a long time, there are other factors that can increase this. For example, the time to do things to get ready for work (such as taking a shower, getting dressed and having breakfast) can take another 30 minutes to an hour so adding these activities to the commute time can bring up the "non-work time" to 90 to 120 minutes. An employee can get so much more work done in that time if they did not have to travel into an office. According to the Telework Research Network, companies such as JD Edwards, AT&T and Compaq reported that their telecommuting employees are more productive than their office counterparts.2
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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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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
The cost of a personal assistant will be more than a virtual assistant and you will be responsible for employing them. But you will be receiving 100% of their time and whilst this requires a certain amount of administration on your part there are companies such as Staff Tax in the UK for private staff who can help with payroll, employment contracts and pensions. For an idea of how much a PA would expect to be paid you can read more here.
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.
Having worked remotely for my whole career (25 years) I found this to be a great read. I certainly agree with the elements as provided. It does take a certain personality to be able to stay focused and committed without the boss watching. wink wink. The biggest challenge I find is actually separating from work. With the advent of PDA this is really the norm rather then the exception.