April 26, 2017

8 Reasons Why Your Competition Doesn’t Want You to Go Virtual

Many successful companies across the world are opting for virtual employees that may never set foot in a company office, probably don’t live in the same area as the company, and may not even be in the same country.  FlexJobs has a list highlighting 125 companies that have embraced the virtual workforce with great success and, in all likelihood, your competition is following this same trend. 

It’s time for you to get the facts on virtual employment, so here are 8 reasons your competition doesn’t want you to go virtual.

Reason #1: Optimized Recruitment

When you begin to seek out talented virtual workers, your pool of potential candidates expands beyond your immediate geographical region and even beyond the borders of your country.  With the continued evolution of telecommuting and virtual employees, no matter where in the world you may be located, you can compete for the best and brightest minds in your field. 

Another added benefit is the flexibility, as indicated by the Society for Human Resource Management.  Sites such as Upwork, FlexJobs, and We Work Remotely have simplified the process, acting as a clearinghouse for the most skilled workers around the globe. 

For the modern worker, flexibility is one of the characteristics they are looking for when job hunting.  Some millennials, for example, have stated they are willing to sacrifice $10,000 of the salary for the opportunity to work virtually.  If a business wants to compete for top talent, they should offer virtual employment.

With the advent of the virtual workforce, it has never been easier to find the perfect person for a position!

Reason #2: Higher Productivity

Did you know that virtual employees have higher productivity than traditional employees?  Consider these statistics:

But that’s just the employees talking, you might say.  Of course, they are going to say they are more productive.  What do the actual companies have to say?  Well, according to a white paper by Aon, increases in productivity as measured by companies employing virtual employees range from 10% to 43%.

There are quite a few reasons as to why virtual employees can get more work done, and the key seems to be workplace distractions.  Another survey identified some traditional office issues as major problems for productivity:  61% said that noisy co-workers are the biggest distraction in an office and 40% reported lost time resulting from impromptu meetings initiated by co-workers. The same study pointed out that 80% of the respondents felt they achieved maximum productivity when they could work alone.

Women working on laptop in her bed

Remote employees are happier, more productive and have high morale.

Virtual employees can enjoy the elimination of distractions such as conversations around the proverbial water cooler, workplace drama, and problems with needless interruptions from other employees.  They are free to find a quiet place to work.

Once a disciplined virtual worker can focus on the task at hand, their productivity can skyrocket.

Reason #3: Better Morale

Employee morale is a major issue.  In fact, a 2017 study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. indicated that one of the biggest reasons for employees leaving a company is burnout.

Believe it or not, statistics show that virtual employees have better morale.  For example, ConnectSolutions, in their study on the productivity, found that 44% of their remote employees reported having a more positive attitude at work.  Another study on telecommuting done by PGi indicated that 80% of respondents felt their morale was higher working remotely.

But how is morale better? Consider these results from TinyPulse:  an overwhelming major of virtual employees that answered the survey said that they:

  • Felt happy at work
  • Felt valued at work
  • And could see themselves still working at the same place a year later

A virtual workforce supports the very ingredients needed for a productive, motivated employee!

Reason #4: Improved Retention

The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. performed a study this year that discussed major concerns of HR professionals, and employee retention ranked near the very to top.   The loss of an employee can have a major impact on a business.  Not only does it affect the workflow and company productivity, but significant time and money can be lost in searching for a replacement and onboarding.  There’s also a learning curve as they get accustomed to how things work at the company.  In short, retention of employees saves both time and money.

A recent study focused on HR professionals was performed by WorldAtWork, and 85% of the respondents indicated that the virtual work program at their company had a moderate to high impact on retention.  A comprehensive white paper by Aon about virtual workers found that the use of virtual workers can increase employee retention by anywhere from 10% to 50%

Aetna, one of the early leaders in virtual employees and telecommuting, found that the option to work remotely served as a powerful tool for retention.  In 2013 their average company turnover was around 8% but the average for virtual employees was between 2% and 4%. 

No matter the size of your company, retention is in issue.  You can increase employee retention by using virtual workers.

Reason #5: Reduced Stress Among Employees

The ability to work remotely reduces stress among employees.  The ConnectSolutions study on the productivity reported that 53% of their own remote workers felt less stressed, and a telecommuting report from PGi revealed that 82% of their respondents felt their stress levels were much lower since they had been working remotely.

Why are stress levels lower?  Probably for many of the same reasons that employee productivity is higher for virtual workers:

  • Minimal distractions, allowing them to focus on getting the job done
  • No traffic-filled commutes to and from work
  • Freedom to take breaks as needed and work when their productivity is at its peak

Some have indicated that their virtual work arrangement allows them to see more of their family, which can also reduce stress.  It gives them the freedom to deal with issues outside of work and return to the job when they can give it their full attention.  They also can avoid workplace drama and dissension.

Virtual employees experience less stress, which allows them to focus even more on the job!

Reason #6: Environmentally Friendly

Many companies are making a sincere effort to “go green” and do what they can to support the environment.  GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com investigated, among other things, the environmental impact of companies allowing employees to telecommute just half time.  The result would be the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking the entire workforce of New York state off the road.

How can a virtual workforce have such an impact?

  • Less fuel consumption because commuting is no longer required and travel is drastically reduced
  • No need for large office complexes
  • Lowered emissions resulting from reduced power requirements
  • Reduction in paper waste
Working on a laptop on the beach.

82% of people who work from home report less stress than employees who must report to an office every day.

In short, virtual workforces are eco-positive!

Reason #7: Lowered Costs

Having virtual employees is more economical for so many reasons.  According to data collected by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, if those with jobs that support telecommuting worked remotely just half the time, the typical US business would save $11,000 per employee each year. 

Here are a few examples of where money is saved:

  • Greatly reduced real estate costs, as experienced by insurance magnate Aetna
  • Computers and furniture for individual workspaces
  • Power and water
  • Air conditioning
  • Maintenance
  • Mail service
  • Janitorial services
  • Office supplies

It is far more economically smart to implement a virtual workplace!

Reason #8: Easy to Manage, Monitor, Communicate, and Pay

Many people believe the myth that working with virtual employees is much harder than dealing with on-site employees.  It is actually quite easy to manage virtual employees thanks to Saas (software-as-a-service) tools. Trello, for example, allows remote teams to collaborate on projects and makes it possible for managers to oversee multiple projects from one easy-to-use platform.  In addition, Trello syncs across various types of devices.

ActivTrak is a cloud-based monitoring service that allows managers to track what employees, virtual or on-site, are really working during their business hours.  It can monitor both web and application usage and generates usage reports so companies can make sure their employees are actually working on legitimate tasks.

Communication with virtual employees is becoming easier and easier thanks to tools like Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, or HipChat, which offers a combination of group chat, video chat, and screen sharing (which can be vital for some projects). 

Tools like PayPal make payroll management straight forward and if you have concerns about managing issues like taxes and benefits then you can opt for something like Intuit Payroll.  Online marketplaces for finding virtual employees can also provide some useful tools for payroll management, time-tracking, very limited monitoring, and communication, such as those offered by Upwork.

It’s easy to manage your remote employees using the growing list of Saas tools available!

Why Aren’t You Going Virtual

As you have seen, the numbers are there to show that using virtual employees helps you find the very best talent and see higher productivity with better morale, improved retention, and less stress on your employees.  In addition, a virtual workforce is not only eco-friendly, but will also result in tremendous savings.  Finally, contrary to what you may think, the tools are out there to help you effectively manage, monitor, communicate, and pay your employees no matter how widely scattered they may be geographically. 

The virtual workforce is a powerful trend that produces excellent results. Have you gone virtual yet?  You can bet your competition is hoping that you don’t.

Monitoring Solutions from ActivTrak

Many people are reluctant to make the move to a virtual workforce because they are concerned of being ripped off by employees who claim hours but haven’t done the work.  This can be prevented through the use of monitoring software like ActivTrak

ActivTrak is the easiest way for you to see who is doing what and for how long with a very simple, intuitive dashboard for setting up your invisible tracking system, looking at the results, and generating productivity reports that give you insight into what your employees are doing.  Contact us for more information.

Do you have virtual employees? How do you keep them motivated and productive? Leave your tips for others below.

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