A file-sharing service. Virtual teams need a place to share files. A file-sharing service will allow employees to store, access and share files in a secure location. Dropbox is one major platform for file sharing, but there are plenty of other popular services available, such as Google Drive and OneDrive. If you have highly regulated IT guidelines, it may be worthwhile to invest in your own IT-approved system.
Leading Across Distance: This program is designed to provide leaders with the tools they need to propel results from their virtual teams. The program is broken up into three sessions: distance leadership, leading across cultural differences, and engaging virtual meetings. You will learn what you need to know about the most important aspects of distance leadership, how to effectively communicate in the virtual setting, how to leverage diversity and cultural differences, and more.
Increased productivity. Virtual collaboration tools allow remote employees to collaborate as if they’re in the same conference room. Employees can use forms of virtual communication in the workplace, such as video conferencing, as well as email, instant messages, and the telephone. Workers are more likely to work in excess of 40 hours a week if they’re working from home, and they also take fewer sick days. Employees working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they’re able to collaborate from home. Business hours increase with more flexibility. Furthermore, business will continue as usual regardless of weather conditions that could limit productivity due to hazardous driving conditions.
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.”
In a 2008 interview with American Society of Association Executives, Deb Keary, human resources director for the Society for Human Resource Management, cited two potential problems with telecommuting. One is if a telecommuter isn't suited to working outside the office, and the work suffers. The other is if the manager isn't suited to it or isn't comfortable with it. In that case, it won't work. "Not all managers are cut out to supervise telecommuters," she said. In addition, there are some occupations that obviously are unsuitable for telework arrangements, such as laborers and clinicians; however, positions that require minimal personal interaction may be very well suited to telecommuting from virtual offices.
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.
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.
Personal assistant’s possess quite a bit of power over their employers’ lives knowing all about the people they meet, the deals they make and what they keep hidden inside that locked desk drawer (…creepy, perhaps?) . Assistants also get to meet some of the most successful and talented people of their respective fields. That’s an amazing opportunity to learn and establish important relations every single day. Having constant access to the latest news and having all the people involved just a phone call away is a great opportunity to make a real, positive difference in both your own and other people’s lives.
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.
A time zone converter. Teams that include members from different time zones often struggle with finding the best times to collaborate. A time zone converter can assist virtual workers in planning the best times for meetings, and it can remind employees to remain conscientious of the time in their teammates’ zones. Every Time Zone is a web-based, aesthetically pleasing app that converts time zone differences in a simple, easy-to-comprehend format.
Employers can also realize saving by allowing virtual workplaces. Among these are real estate or office costs. By allowing more workers to telecommute, companies can reduce the amount of works space they need and it also reduces the resources needed to support these employees in the office (such as office supplies and electricity). According to the Telework Research network, the average real estate savings realized from a full-time teleworker is $10,000 a year. Companies that have implemented several virtual workplaces have seen large cost savings in real-estate cost. For example, IBM has reduced its real estate costs by $50 million and Sun Microsystems saves $68 million per year. 2
If you're an overworked entrepreneur wondering why your to-do list always seems unfinished, look into hiring a personal assistant. I once had a mentor tell me that a key to day-to-day success is to hire a PA to keep the trains running on time while you focus on big picture ideas. At first, I thought it was a waste of money, but now I completely understand where he's coming from.
Estimates claim that about 2.8% of the global workforce works from home at least half of the time. Although this number seems low at first glance, consider the fact that the number of people who work from home has increased 103% since 2005. There’s no denying that there is an upward trend of work-from-home flexibility in society today — and this trend does indeed come with many benefits, such as the following:
It might seem counterintuitive, but remote workers are often more engaged with colleagues and supervisors than in-office workers, Harvard Business Review concluded. The plethora of technological tools to help workers stay connected makes the difference—in fact, a separate study found that 87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.
Many strategies that worked for managers in the past will be impossible with a remote team. No more getting the team together after lunch for a project post-mortem, no more doing walkarounds to make sure everyone is working, and no more being able to visit someone’s desk and demand their attention. Remote work could make much of traditional management practices useless.
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.
From my experience, remote team members have allowed my company to recruit from a larger talent pool worldwide versus being limited to the geographic location where our offices are located. From an employer's perspective, by going the contractor route (versus just remote), you pay for only the work being done, instead of a full payroll, while allowing flexibility and freedom within the position. - Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies
I’ve also never had a full-time nanny for my three kids. I’m not judging others who are making different choices; it’s just not the right decision for me. For one, I don’t want a non-family member living in my house. But more importantly, parenting is my first value, so I want to do it myself as much as I can. (I’m fortunate in that I have a lot of schedule flexibility that enables this.)
As companies begin to increasingly rely on the internet and technology for their business operations, more employees are being hired remotely. There are many benefits and some concerns to consider when hiring remote employees. Virtual employees are more cost-efficient, more productive, and happier overall. There are also the risks of client and company data privacy, collaboration accessibility, and the process of blending the virtual employees with the already existing office employees.
They’re more work to manage and have a time overhead compared to someone at the office is a big part. It’s also easy to forget and ignore remote workers and it can be harder to evaluate their productivity. A culture that has a mix of remote and non-remote has the remotes pretty isolated as the normal way of communicating things has them left out. (source)
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).
Any kind of process will have its own pros and cons. Similarly, virtual office workers also come with their own advantages and disadvantages but it is up to the bosses and the organization to create a leverage and work on the cons and try to enhance the pros, so that the resultant workforce remains satisfied, stress free and the working environment is transformed into a fruitful one.
Over the past decade, a rising number of young professionals, primarily from the United States and Europe, have leveraged the use of technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.