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:
The word “assistant” is often considered a synonym to the word “slave”. The truth is, though, that if you’ve landed a job as somebody’s personal assistant, you’ve become one of the most powerful people imaginable. You are now the gatekeeper of the castle that is your employer, and the more they trust you, the more they are willing to pay you. And since it probably took a while to train you and to establish a bond with you, they are not likely to let you go that easily.
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.
Communication on a distributed team is a whole other ballgame. I never realized how much I took co-located colleagues for granted until there was no one beside me I could ask a quick question. Every question, every answer, every approval will be documented on a remote team. This makes for great records, but bulky loads of information to sort through.
If you train your personal assistant well, you can develop a trusting relationship that can blossom into a long-term partnership. A good personal assistant eventually will learn the nuances of your business, as well as your dreams, aspirations and mental processes. He'll be able to anticipate your needs and those of the business. A trustworthy assistant can become a sounding board for your ideas and offer you insights you had not considered. The perspective can be refreshing and spark ideas or approaches that were invisible to you. A close, personal assistant can give honest, frank feedback that others might be reluctant to give.
Cost-benefit analysis is exactly what it sounds like: If it costs you $50 a week to get a personal assistant, what’s the benefit? Let’s say that money buys you five hours of help. You ask the personal assistant to run errands, send mail and attend to tasks that otherwise would prove a time suck on your week. The benefit, in this case, comes in the form of five free hours that you gain from having the personal assistant help out — and you can do anything with that time you like.
Even with the right tools and adequate planning, virtual teams in the workplace can pose unique challenges for global companies of all sizes. An experienced talent development firm can help companies navigate the trials that come with virtual collaboration across cultural boundaries. Choose to work with a firm with a validated inventory in the market and a proven record for success.
Many celebrities choose to have a personal assistant at their side much of the day, to take care of all the details that could cause problems if not dealt with on a timely manner. Because they are not working in an office and they are frequently moving from place to place, the PA is the perfect solution to their problems and helping keep them organized.
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.
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Increase cross-cultural awareness. People involved in global teams should know and understand the challenges that come with communicating across cultures. For example, an American multinational oil and gas corporation wanted to ensure their non-Iraqi employees were equipped with the cultural knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the Iraqi context. Aperian Global worked with corporation leaders and local Iraqis to design a workshop for multinational employees assigned to Iraq, and it was offered in the US and the Middle East. A pre-departure workshop was also created for employees traveling to Iraq. It addressed issues such as safety, security, and health, as well as business and cultural topics. The workshops gave leaders and employees the information, skills and confidence needed to successfully collaborate and conduct business across cultural boundaries.
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.
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“Face-to-face interaction is generally lost, and there’s no substitute for this during some activities, especially those more collaborative in nature. Video conferencing can sometimes offset this, but it’s not a perfect replacement. Feeling like a cohesive team is more difficult, and some people can never get past that. (Manifesting both with those in the office feeling like remote workers aren’t being part of the team, and remote workers feeling like they aren’t treated like they are real teammates.)” (source)
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.
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.
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.
Use time zones to your advantage. Timezones are a great and terrible thing. On one hand, I know what it’s like to wake up at 6 a.m. for a meeting. Or sleep at 3 a.m. waiting for an update from the team. I’ve also seen the benefits of having a person online at all times for our customers. This is especially powerful in customer support. It allows for 24/7 support with just a few strategically placed (literally) people. Time.is is a great way to compare what time it is (and will be) in other places and can help you keep track of the time where your other team members are. And don’t fret, because you’ll get the hang of it. I often forget what time it is where I am. But after working on a remote team for 3 years, I’ve learned how to do timezone calculations almost subconsciously. Just be sure to set an alarm for Daylight Savings.
While I completely agree that co-location can lead to a better collaboration, if not serendipity, in a global world with scarcity in best-in-class talent, organizations should retune themselves to have a distributed workplace. A well-designed distributed workplace enabled by the right technology can make a virtual playground for innovation, if not for highly productive work. - Madhavan Satagopan, Altimetrik Corp
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.
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.
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.