Virtual offices, telecommuting and telework all mean essentially the same thing: employees work from another location outside of the traditional office. Virtual offices and telecommuting have become immensely popular for some employers, and met with trepidation by others. The concept is a relatively new one, which makes it difficult to construct definitive policies that set clear parameters for working outside the traditional office environment. As with any work arrangement, there are advantages and disadvantages to virtual offices and telecommuting.
Working in an office carries a lot of secondary expenses. For instance, you have to pay for your transportation costs (gasoline, bus/train tickets, etc.), professional attire (suits, business accessories), and other related costs (lunch, makeup/deodorant, etc.). These costs can quickly add up, although they’re rarely considered. For business owners, who must lease or rent a space, the costs are much greater. When you use a virtual office, you can end up saving a lot of money.
Not only are virtual workers more productive, but they are more efficient as well (the holy grail). As mentioned above, fewer distractions can lead to better outcomes. Not only does it cause a rise in work produced, but the work that is produced is better, according to ConnectSolutions. 30% of workers surveyed said that working remotely allowed them to increase efficiency. Another 24% said that virtual work was about the same, which is a cost savings for companies (overhead, insurance, time lost commuting, sick days, etc.).
While home-based businesses are starting to become more and more acceptable, with several major enterprises, such as Amazon, having started out as home-based businesses. As such, having the physical address that comes with a virtual office will add legitimacy to your business since your clients will be privy to a location that isn’t simply someone’s home.
While home-based businesses are starting to become more and more acceptable, with several major enterprises, such as Amazon, having started out as home-based businesses. As such, having the physical address that comes with a virtual office will add legitimacy to your business since your clients will be privy to a location that isn’t simply someone’s home.
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.
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 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.
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.
The conversation is twofold: Employees who work from home help companies reduce overhead costs, experience greater satisfaction in their jobs, and they’re more productive, but companies ultimately have the discretion to not offer work from home policies — or revoke them — if company leaders believe that managing a virtual workplace decreases speed or hinders collaboration.
But even though most chatbots can handle moderately sophisticated conversations, like welcome conversations and product discovery interactions, the if/then logic that powers their conversational capabilities can be limiting. For instance, if a customer asks a unique yet pressing question that you didn’t account for when designing your chatbot’s logic, there’s no way it can answer their question, which hangs your customer out to dry and ultimately leaves them dissatisfied with your customer service.
Depending on where you live, one of the first places to start is the US Small Business Administration, the Government website for Industry Canada or whatever small business agency your country has to provide resources. It is important to understand the specific business regulations and legalities to becoming a business owner in your own country. The International Virtual Assistant Association is another online resource for virtual assistants. The following qualities are important if you want to become a virtual assistant.
Delegating some of your to-do list to a personal assistant relieves you of the stress and responsibility of getting them done. It saves you time and gives you peace of mind. You meet with your client and spend time with your family, a personal assistant will pick up your dry cleaning. You go on vacation or go for an extended workout, let a personal assistant monitor incoming calls and emails. You focus on figuring out the guest list, while a personal assistant makes your vision of the event come true.
Time management is one of the keys to a successful career. Many successful entrepreneurs and CEOs in the world have perfected the art of time management. Every day, they meet several clients, convene with employees, and talk to investors. At the end of the day, they still have the time to assess the day’s activities and prep for the following day. They can do all these tasks because they know how to manage their time wisely.
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.

Virtual work or telecommuting requires self-discipline, motivation and a tremendous amount of focus. Individuals who do their best work independently are often the happiest with telecommuting than workers who need to have regular contact with others. The managers who supervise telecommuters bear a large responsibility as well. Managing employees remotely can be very challenging, and it is ultimately the manager's responsibility for determining which of their employees demonstrate the necessary skills and traits for performing successfully in a remote location.


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