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.
When I try out a personal assistant, I give them two weeks of probation no matter how much I may love them in an interview. This gives me a chance to see how reliable they are and how comfortable I feel with them. During this time, I may pay them half the going rate to see how much they want to do the job right and follow through. If you have to let them go, be humble and smart: “I’m not sure it’s a great fit for either of us” is much more tactful than “You suck.”
Conflicts, Lack of Trust & Collaboration - The cultural differences between the members of virtual teams gives rise to number of conflicts. For example, while an American would write a straightforward email describing a bad situation, this would be perceived as impolite by a South Asian (say Japanese) member of the team. This would lead to conflicts, mistrust and difficulties in fruitful collaboration which is so vital for the success of virtual team functioning. These challenges are also precipitated by the absence of non-verbal cues so intrinsic to face-to-face interactions.
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.
“Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.”
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.”
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.)
Finding the right fit of personal assistant is essential and a good agency will be able to reduce the time you need to invest in finding that person. They will sort through all the applications for you and guide you along the way. At Polo & Tweed we offer a tailor-made service to our clients to ensure we get the right match for you. There are some great pointers on the types of questions you might like to ask at interview here.
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.
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There are pros and cons of working from home. Every organization is unique — what may work for one may not work for another — but society is advancing in a way that’s leading to more virtual teams and opportunities to work remotely. Once a company decides to implement work from home policies, it’s wise to consider the possible roadblocks to success.
Even if you can do all the administrative work yourself, why should you? The one hour a day you spend running to the post office, balancing the checkbook, or booking airline tickets would be better spent calling prospects, learning, or thinking strategically. Always try to spend as much time as possible using your unique strengths on your highest leverage activities. Running out to Staples to buy printer paper probably doesn’t fall into that category.
A recent study on “the state of remote work” by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that remote employees have “slightly higher levels of investment in their work,” and benefit from “clearer boundaries and work habits” needed to be successful. The data, based on responses from 1,097 workers across the U.S., reinforces findings from previous research showing that people who work from home are fully engaged with fellow team members, and often are more productive.
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.
Saving on Hiring a Full-Time Employee – A key benefit to using a virtual assistant for your business is the saving aspect. By working with a virtual assistant, you will save on the expense of hiring a full-time employee. This includes the amount of time and money spent on interviewing and training a new employee. This also includes the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance, employee-related benefits, and tax savings. As independent contractors, virtual assistants are responsible for their own bookkeeping and taxes. You will not have to worry about incurring such costs.
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.
By way of technology, the training platform needs to provide power for both audio and visual needs. Look for state of the art high-definition, two-way capabilities that will work for the most demanding virtual learning labs. Unless you are high-tech savvy, you will want to choose a company that offers unlimited tech support from startup to routine maintenance. Also, search for a virtual training program that requires low levels of training for the students and the facilitators.
Remote workers often mean more cash flow and greater productivity, increasing a company's bottom line. Allowing people to work remotely often cuts overhead by reducing expenses, such as a larger office space. Greater productivity, which again increases the bottom line, is typically achieved because employees have the freedom to work at their own pace, knowing they have a job to complete. - Justin Goodbread, Heritage Investors
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.
As a Live-In PA, you stay in a room within close proximity to your employer and are on call to provide assistance and general support, as and when your employer requires it. You assist with daily personal care along with your employer’s morning and evening routine as outlined in their care plan. You sleep when your employer sleeps. This usually works as a one week on, one week off basis, where you share the role with another PA. But we do have full-time Live-In PAs too. You are paid at a daily rate.
Provide and nurture an online meeting place. Automattic, the team behind WordPress, developed an internal blog called P2 where everyone can publish posts based on their achievements and how their week went. At Hubstaff, we have a Slack channel for random discussions where we discuss 30-day running challenges (which I supported with good thoughts) and share interesting articles we find around the web.
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
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.
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.
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Better recruitment opportunities. You can select from the top-qualified candidates around the globe for a position if you’re open to managing a remote workforce. Instead of limiting your recruiting opportunities to those who are willing to relocate and those able to make the daily commute, you can focus on hiring the best-qualified candidates without worrying about any geographic restrictions.
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.
Administrative Services – Most businesses need a good administrative assistant. A virtual assistant can handle all types of administrative services, which include managing company email, scheduling and confirming appointments, managing business correspondence, entering data, and assisting with bookkeeping. They can also take on additional administrative projects that you don’t wish to handle. Thankfully, you will find that many virtual assistants are Microsoft Excel experts.
One of the problems I have come across with remote employees is communication. Being able to discuss ideas on a common whiteboard or screen is more effective in person, as you can gauge reactions and tailor the discussion when you are able to see the whole person. Also, remote employees often have flexible hours that can lead to scheduling issues and make spontaneous communications problematic. - Chris Kirby, Voices.com
Have a culture of transparency. This allows everyone to get a good grasp of each other’s tasks and responsibilities, which encourages good expectations accountability. It could be as simple as sending a weekly report to a shared channel, or keeping all of the projects in your PM tool viewable for all employees, so they can see what’s going on within the company. If you want to take it a step further, consider revenue transparency or public salaries.
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
Collaboration is an important factor in teamwork in the workplace and also still possible for remote workers! Collaboration tools for virtual teams are plentiful and have many different uses. There are many that allow instant and clear communication among remote team workers, such as Slack for instant text-based communication or Zoom for easy conference calling. Other helpful applications include Github, a smart software development tool, and World Time Buddy, that allows you to sync up the different locations of team members to find a time that everyone can meet!
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.