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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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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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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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.
Virtual collaboration offers a profound way to cater to employees with diverse working styles. For example, detailed-driven workers tend to excel in virtual environments. They typically have no trouble planning their workday and accomplishing daily tasks. Emotionally driven individuals may prefer to speak directly over the phone or face-to-face in a video conference, because they typically read social cues very well and prefer verbal communication. Idea-driven workers thrive when facilitating change and usually prefer a lead role in brainstorming solutions, so you should consider giving them more responsibility when strategizing in the virtual setting. Data-driven workers are highly adept at solving complex problems. They don’t typically need an extra push to stay on topic or on budget, but they may prefer to work alone quietly rather than lead a virtual group discussion.

A decision-making tool. Sometimes teams struggle to come to a decision, and this is especially true in the virtual setting. A helpful decision-making tool can alleviate the stress that comes with making difficult decisions, because it will allow team members to easily vote, tally the results, and present everyone with the final outcome. Loomio and Tricider are helpful decision-making tools that allow members to vote and quickly understand the likely outcome.

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.


Use varied channels of communication. There are many ways to communicate virtually. Lean methods include emails, chat messages, and texting. If you have a simple message to share, a lean method of communication is usually fine. If you have something deeper or more complicated to share, it’s better to opt for a richer method of communication, such as video conference or telephone call. These methods add more contextual information like facial expressions and body language, which can be very telling in a conversation.
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.
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.

The phrases “remote work,” “distributed teams,” and “digital nomad” are becoming more and more trendy on the Internet. A lot of companies and virtual employees (us included) are writing about why it’s so great to be able to work from across the world and on your own schedule. Basically, there are a lot of benefits of working remotely for both employers and employees.

Leverage Global Talent - Virtual Teams allows organizations to look for talent beyond their country of origin. This brings together the experts and specialists from across the globe to work together on the project. Increased knowledge sharing and greater innovation happens as organization’s human capital share their understanding of global and local markets as well as best business practices.
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.)
About the author: Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer, and love offering readers great service stories and ideas to improve their lives. Writing for FlexJobs allows me to be an example and show people that you can indeed have a healthy work life balance.

Social Media Assistant – Handling social media for businesses can become time consuming for business owners and other staff. This is time that can be spent on other revenue-generating tasks. However, because of its importance in a business’s marketing plan, it can be delegated to a virtual assistant. According to Chris Ducker, every business should have a social media plan .  And this is an area where a virtual assistant can help out. A virtual assistant can plan and schedule your social media marketing on your Facebook business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google pages as well as on any other social media site that you use. They can research content, monitor and engage the users, and assist in building your network. This is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant, as most business spend anywhere from five to 20 plus hours per week on social media.
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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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.

If I ask Eric to perform research, I give him all the tools and instructions he needs to do a great job. Yes, that takes time, but it’s minimal compared to the amount of time he saves me. What’s more, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to “do this” if you don’t at least tell them how you want it done. It’s like sending someone for coffee and not telling them what you want in it. (Note: I’ve never once sent a personal assistant for coffee, though I’ll get coffee for him. It reinforces the humility aspect of things.)
Companies are being forced to address production over presence as the ultimate indicator of value in the remote world. That is forcing people to rethink their traditional compensation plans. As these compensation plans better align employees with the company, the overall financial picture improves. People are incentivized to the right behaviors, and both the company and employee benefit. - Matthew May, Acuity
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.

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