Freedom to travel: With no need of a visa or transportation to a physical location, people can access their virtual office from basically anywhere in the world, giving them the freedom to choose their physical work space. Today we have many digital nomads who claim to be more productive in a virtual work setting as compared to being in an office. We know from experience that that is a fact!
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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Cost savings - The biggest advantage of virtual team enjoyed by an organization is the associated cost savings. The organization can do away with huge expenses on real estate, office spaces, utilities bills such as gas, electricity, water etc. and executives’ travel. Many organizations outsource their operations to the low-cost regions. Thus production cost also decreases with the reduced raw material cost, operational costs and lower wages of the employees in these geographic locations.
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.
Distributed work requires more discipline on behalf of the company and worker in order to ensure you are getting all the benefits, but it is worth it when you consider the diversity you reap. Differing opinions, viewpoints and work styles combine to make a better work environment and a group of employees who are more creative at solving problems and better at understanding their customers. - Lisbi Abraham, Andela

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For technology companies facing a talent crunch, hiring remotely seems a particularly good idea. However, there are some companies that prefer to keep their staff on site as a means to enhance collaboration and creativity via direct interactions and face-to-face conversations. Here are several pros and cons to working with a distributed workforce, according to 13 Forbes Technology Council members, to help you decide if a remote working model is the right fit for your company.

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?
It’s estimated that the average virtual worker saves upwards of $7000 annually as opposed to those who work in an office. (Don’t believe it? Test out the Telework Calculator, which can add up how much your own savings could be!) Those savings come from a variety of sources, including commuting costs, which counts for a major bulk of the savings. But keep in mind all of the hidden expenses, too, such as lunch and snacks, your twice-daily caramel frappuccino addiction, and clothing costs. If you add all of those up, your decision to work virtually will make a whole lot of sense…in dollars and cents.
Typically there are no overhead costs like computers, office and parking spaces, benefits, utilities etc. According to a study from Sanford University, a company can save about $2,000 per year, per employee who works from home.  Even if you provide funds for the employee to set up a home office, costs remain significantly lower than renting an office space.
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).
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.
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
With all the allure of a couch, mid-day naps, Netflix, virtual reality games, drum lessons, airline flight sale alerts, and whatever small distractions there are in a day, it’s no surprise that managers worry about work productivity for their employees out of the office. They are at the mercy of beckoning chores. A full pantry of things to snack on. “Quick” walks to the park, and so much more that can distract them from work. I can see how easy it would be for tasks to take longer. For example, a task that would take one hour in an office could take five hours with distractions. 
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.
Employee engagement and motivation. Consider giving remote and office workers surveys to see who is more engaged and motivated overall. Ask questions about how they feel coming to work every day, find out whether they’re inspired at work and ask if they think their role within the company is important. Ask specific questions about whether or not they feel included in group decisions and ask if they feel as though their needs and concerns are considered and addressed.
Money, money, money. The root of a lot of headaches, from international transfers to confusing tax laws. Paying an international team is much more difficult than giving out checks or setting up direct deposit with a co-located team. You have to worry about how to send it, fees, the conversion rates of the day, and much more. What tax forms are you responsible for? How do you file benefits for international employees? A business may almost want to hire a person just to take care of processing payments for remote workers.
One is the jealousy aspect. I’ve been in semi-remote teams wherein only a few people (or even just me) were allowed to work from home. What has worked for me in the past is to clarify responsibilities between my manager and colleagues. Then deliver unfailingly. Once a team learns to appreciate your work, it shouldn’t matter whether you do it beside them or from somewhere else.

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