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Perks and snags of running a virtual office

By Samantha Garner | January 6, 2018

Has the thought of running a virtual office ever crossed your mind? Whether this is the first you’ve considered it, or you’ve been mulling it over for a while, here are some pros and cons you should know before you make your decision.

Perks of running a virtual office

  • Reduced overhead. Running your small business with remote workers means you don’t have to worry about leasing office space. Employees working from home can be eligible for tax deductions so there is an added incentive for them, too.
  • Increased talent pool. If the perfect candidate for a position lives four towns over, great! With a traditional office, that employee would most likely not love the idea of commuting to work – and in fact would probably never apply. Removing the need for a commute means you can cast a wider HR net.
  • Greater quality of life. Working remotely offers a wealth of advantages that can make life easier. For example, you and your employees can make important personal appointments during the day, you’ll save money on gas or transit, and you can lower your day care costs.
  • Increased happiness. A recent survey by Upwork (formerly oDesk), shows that 92% of remote workers saw an increase in happiness. Happy employees are productive and engaged employees!

Snags of running a virtual office

  • Risk of distraction. Many people are unfamiliar with remote working. This can mean that neighbours drop by and expect a chat, children want to play, or perhaps Netflix appears extra tempting. Virtual workers must be self-motivated, and able to work independently without supervision, while still meeting their deadlines.
  • Reduced communication. With a virtual office, there’s no walking next door to chat with an employee about a project. You’ll need to be more creative with your communication tools. Many offices rely on video chat programs like Skype, messaging programs like Slack, or project management tools like Teamwork.
  • Isolation. Not only are employees unable to talk in-person about work, but they also often lack the benefits of social interaction with their coworkers. As an employer, you should take steps to encourage a healthy work-life balance. This can include implementing flexible hours, encouraging employees to work in coworking locations, or holding regular team get-togethers if geography allows.
  • Technical issues. When employees are all working on their own computers, using their own internet connections, with software they installed themselves, issues may arise. In a traditional office environment, troubleshooting and fixing tech problems is often quicker and more straightforward than in a virtual office.

For more on running a virtual office, check out our previous blog posts: Is your small business ready for virtual workers? and How to manage a virtual office.

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