5 Rules for Going Virtual – How to Make it Work

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“Without continual growth and progress,
such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Where is your office? Do you have a traditional work arrangement in a corporate environment or are you on the road more than a broken yellow line? Is your office in a corner of your home and are you one of the new virtuals? Perhaps your office is in a black bag in the form of a lap top and you don’t leave home without it, ever.

More and more people are working the mobile/virtual way these days. The advantages are many and although “more spare time”  seems to be one of them, it can be merely a sad and unreachable illusion.

Going virtual or in-house (<-your own) solves many economical issues and is also an green or pro-environmental alternative.

Less traffic = less pollution = less time lost due to commuting
Less company overhead = company money saved = more money earned potential
Less time away from home = cut day care costs for aging parents or smaller children
Less stress = less friction at home and at work = less illness = less time off from work

And while these all sound great, related and unexpected complications will most likely arise. Those that have the opportunity to clock in when they want tend to do just that.  Anytime, anywhere.  Converse to the advantages, disadvantages loom and can easily cloud an otherwise sunny virtual day.

 Longer working hours, because you can and it’s there.
Sleep is disrupted because minds are preoccupied and wander to your in-house, virtual office more easily.
Requires individuals to be self-driven and enterprising – not everyone is.
Less commitment to colleagues and employers, as well as to clients or customers due to less developed personal relationships and less face-to-face interaction.

These disadvantages are weighty but with so many clear-cut advantages, there has to be a way to make it work. Given the continuing state of the economy, it would appear that going virtual is becoming more popular and will probably be around for a while, if not forever.

5 Rules for Going Virtual – How to Make it Work

1.  If you are self-employed or work with a small group, clearly define all roles. Written job descriptions and /or contracts with specific duties outlined will distribute the work load evenly while creating and presenting clear expectations for all.

2.  Have defined working hours. Allotting time for email, research, and conference calls will assist in efforts to not overdo it. Rules like, “No computer after 7pm” may seem unreasonable at first but will force you to be more productive during daytime hours.

3.  DO NOT have your computer in your bedroom. How can you possibly rest soundly with a constant work reminder just feet away? When I first started working virtually four years ago, I fell into terrible sleeping habits.  It wasn’t until I moved my computer out of my room that I was able to sleep soundly for 6-7 hours each night.

4.  Make an effort to meet with co-workers/employers and clients or customers regularly, face-to-face, as often as is feasible.  Skype helps considerably, but it isn’t a perfect solution, find the balance of real life and virtual relationship building that works for you.

5.  Create goals that force you to grow and stretch, that are difficult, that improve your work ethic, but it is extremely important to not only make them attainable but also achievable.

With Skype, Twitter, Facebook, G+, ubiquitous wifi, and mobile “everything,” the crazy technologies foreshadowed in a Dick Tracy comic strip are no longer so far-fetched.  Until “Beam me up” is a reality, virtual is surely the wave to catch.

But it doesn’t work without effort and it certainly is not easy.  And it isn’t for everyone.

The author of the quote at the top?  “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” <-Benjamin Franklin said it… OVER 200 years ago.  Pretty smart guy, then and now.

Bonus Track!Rayanne Thorn, @ray_anne is the Marketing Director for the online recruiting software company, Broadbean Technology.  She is also a proud mother of four residing in Laguna Beach, California, and a contributor for Blogging4Jobs.  Connect with her on LinkedIn.  

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  1. Rayanne,

    The technology of the organization can assist or hinder virtual ability, so it might be a factor as well. Remote access to desktops sometimes is slower, requires more password entry, etc., and automatic links do not work and must be done independently.

    I have also heard some companies assert rights over people’s personal devices since there is company information on them.

    • David-

      Thanks so much for commenting. I agree with you whole-heartedly. There will be future battles over who own contacts, as well. Given the mobile, social world in which we now reside, LinkedIn, BranchOut, and BeKnown, to name on a few, will help separate contacts and protect/ensure that company contacts stay with that company.

      When I left a recruiting position several years ago, my personal items were packed up for me. When I unpacked my things, my Rolodex had been emptied out, the cards and contacts I had made over my five years with the company had been removed, never to be seen again. I fretted at first, but then I realized that many of the contacts could now be found online and they were also all in palm pilot or in my cell phone.

      The times, they are a’constantly changin’ …

      Care must be taken by all who work virtually or via mobile to self-protect. Keep a protected database on a private network or in a private cloud-based account like Dropbox – accessible from anywhere online. And for God’s sake, do not use your work email as a User name or Login – use a private email account. How many abandoned LinkedIn accounts are out there because the user could no longer access the account or change information, as it was attached to a former work email address? Oops.

      Remoter access is another issue. My personal experience has been great in this aspect, as my company’s main servers are in the UK and we have global customers who access our software – speed is of the utmost importance. If remote access is important to the company and it’s employees, the access must be quick and mostly problem-free. Everything moving to the cloud will eventually clear away this issue. It must.

      Enjoy the rest of your week!


      Ray_anne |

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