The Pros and Cons of Virtual Workers

A virtual employee sounds like a great compromise, doesn’t it? You hire a temporary contractor and offer them the opportunity to work from home. After, you meet once or twice a week to reconcile assignments and catch each other up, and then… you only have to rent office space for yourself. Everyone wins!

And this makes the worker happy too, right? They get to work their own schedule in the comfort of their home, perhaps in their pajamas. Or, they can make room for errands throughout the day that otherwise they might not have been able to do. They can go to the gym, swing by the grocery store or hang out at the coffee shop. The possibilities are endless.

No matter how big a company grows, a virtual office can still work. You can hire some of the greatest minds to work with you on projects, and you can do so without ever meeting them in person.

Are there any downsides to a virtual office?

Well, use your imagination. Without a central hub for people to mingle, there will likely be far less camaraderie among your employees. If company culture is important to you, then a physical office will probably be necessary. It’s hard to do Friday lunches when nobody else is around.

There could also be a lack of accountability and cohesion when nobody ever sees anyone else. A Slack channel is great, but things can slip through the cracks if Bobby thinks Jenny was supposed to handle a case, and Jenny thinks Bobby had done that months ago.

Not to mention the security issues when working virtually. Is everyone working on a secure network with double authentication, or are they using a shared cloud drive that could be hacked? Are they handling sensitive information without a virtual private network? If you are working on things like tax returns, estate plans, or personal injury cases that have medical records, working from afar could be problematic.

Summing it up

A virtual office can do wonders for keeping down overhead and streamlining processes. However, if company culture is important and if you handle sensitive documents, make sure to set up a secure channel for workflow — and perhaps have a monthly luncheon for employees to meet in person, if possible. If your workers are across the country or across the world, there are other ways to make employees or even temporary contractors feel invested. Remind them that their work is imperative for company success and that you value their input. Make a Slack channel just for fun things, for cartoons or music or whatever strikes your fancy. Touch base with your workers consistently to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. And remember — just because an office is spread out geographically doesn’t mean the quality of work has to suffer. It’s the personal investment that matters.

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