Each year technology allows us to do more, anytime, anywhere. Telecommuting is no longer a rarity, but the norm in many industries. Entire businesses are run off of laptops and smartphones with a staff spread out across the country or the world. While insurance and technology companies have been at the forefront of the virtual workforce movement, remote workers can be found in nearly every industry.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to work remotely and to lead a virtual workforce. While it is not for everyone, there are many benefits to exploring this as an option either full or part time. Job postings that allow telecommuting draw nearly double the response than traditional office-based positions. If there are jobs within a company that are virtual-friendly, exploring this option might be a wise decision.
Many companies are hesitant to implement a virtual workforce. The main reason being a myth that remote employees are lazy and unproductive. In fact, research shows this myth is false. Remote workers are more engaged, more productive, and tend to work more hours than their colleagues in the physical office.
There are many benefits to partial or complete virtual teams. From a business standpoint, there is decreased overhead. Virtual teams can work from anywhere utilizing file sharing software such as Dropbox or SkyDrive. Contact with team members can happen throughout the day via instant messaging. Meetings can be set up via Skype or GoToMeeting. All of these solutions have minimal to no cost, especially when compared to the overhead of a traditional office. When teams do get together for face-to-face meetings, these meetings are more efficient.
Establishing a virtual work environment opens up a larger pool of highly qualified candidates. Top talent can now be drawn from anywhere in the country or world depending upon your company’s need. Opportunities also open up to stay-at-home mothers, students, semi-retired, and other highly mobile professionals. This is an often-ignored source of top talent due to their inability to work traditional hours in a traditional office setting.
Flexible work options such as full or part time telecommuting is one of the biggest attractions to the newest generation of workers. Generation-Y is focused on working in positions that allow for the maximum work/life balance. They also prefer jobs that allow for flexibility of location and work hours. Since these workers are beginning to flood the job market, establishing positions or a policy will help put a company in the lead for winning-over this generation.
I personally try to work from home one day a week if at all possible. Meetings and appointments sometimes don’t allow for that. I believe I am as productive, if not more so than being at the office. The big key is having the technology cooperate.