Being Virtual: Creating Efficient Remote Companies
A decade ago the idea of being "virtual" sounded futuristic and almost impossible. It seemed like it was up there with teleporting and videophones. Well, we all know that videophones are now a current technology that most of us cannot live without and that more and more virtual companies are being created.
A "virtual company" is defined as a company that "employs electronic means to transact business as opposed to a traditional brick and mortar business that relies on face-to-face transactions with physical documents and physical currency or credit."
Imagine that? Interacting using technology instead of face to face (but you can still do face to face with video conferencing). For our team, we are spread out all over Canada and being virtual works perfectly!
Why is working at a virtual company fantastic and forward thinking? There are many reasons but here are a few of my favourites:
Working remotely is cost effective
You don't have to have office space in order to have a virtual company. Each employee will need a space to perform their own tasks and most of the time it's up to them to find it. Maybe they work from a home office, from the kitchen table or from a coffee shop? The most important thing is that they are meeting deadlines. Sometimes employees are to use their own equipment (cell phones, laptops, etc…) or the company can supply them. It's up to you!
Virtual companies use online project management tools
Basecamp is an online project management tool that is fantastic at organizing a team and all of it's projects, contact information, schedules, etc…Since the beginning of my time working with Custom Fit Online we have used Basecamp. I chose not to watch the "how to" videos and taught myself how to use it. It is that simple. They also have an extensive "help" section. This is not a free tool but there is a 60-day free trial. I find this the best system I've used and suggest that you dabble in it.
Working remotely doesn't need a commute
Wait, what commute? The morning commute can be reduced from 45 minutes all the way down to 45 seconds. Working virtually allows saving on commuting time which leaves more time for work and schedule flexibility. Also, the minimized commute time will help prevent and manage employee burnout.
Scheduling for virtual companies
You have two options: You can set business hours where your employees are expected to be reachable or you can trust that your employees will get their work done on or before deadlines, show up on conference calls and be accessible, without strict business hours. However, you do need to take into consideration the hours of operation for clients.
Virtual workers require discipline
You may think that I'm crazy for telling you that "discipline" is one of my favourite things but it's true. Once you are able to have the ability to create your own schedule and have master the skill of being disciplined enough to get up early to work, not divert your attention away from tasks and avoid household temptations (like chores and cats) you will feel accomplished. Our homes are filled with distractions and the more you exercise your discipline muscle, the better you will become and the more you will get done.
Obviously, along with the good comes the bad but for someone who has mastered working this way, I don't slip into bad habits (often). You may feel lonely. You may feel uninspired. You may have trouble actually sitting down and getting your work done. These things happen from time to time but if they are more frequent than not, working virtually may not be right for you!! Do you currently work virtually and/or from home? If so, you may know what we are talking about. We'd love if you can share (in the comments below) why you think working virtually is fantastic!