When it came to writing this, the first post of the A-Z of Virtual Working, there were so many 'A's to choose from that after narrowing down the possibilities it was still impossible to settle on just one; so I picked three and they happen to blend quite nicely.
Definition: freedom to determine one's own actions, behaviour, etc. (source: Collins Dictionary).
It can be exhilarating to have the freedom to determine your own actions but is the achievement of autonomy plain sailing? The ability to manage your own workload; to be responsible for your own day to day activities; to be self-driven and motivated are all essential skills for the virtual worker. Many virtual workers are also business owners and therefore have a level of freedom and flexibility that traditional employees don't have. That said, virtual workers need to create their own job security, pay their own taxes, insurances and pension. There is no IT department to rely on; no HR department to assist with difficult issues. However, if you can get it right, independence in your working life can bring great benefits to you and the clients you work with.
Having valuable skills and keeping them up to date is essential in our fast moving technological world. If you want the freedom that virtual working can offer, you need to keep on top of the changes and improvements, adding to the skill-set as necessary. The advent of cyberspace has provided us with more autonomy that we could have imagined. Thanks to modern technology, a virtual worker can still perform tasks to support managing a client's business from almost anywhere on the planet (good Wi-Fi access permitting!).
Virtual workers can (and do) manage multiple clients and are adept at switching from one project to another. They are not based in an employers office but often working from home or serviced offices. Basically their time is their own. Clients will pay only for time spent on their tasks, not for breaks. Or, if the virtual worker is not paid on an hourly basis, the client will have a package rate (a set of defined tasks for a set price, deliverable within a specific timescale) which enables efficient budgeting and planning for project deadlines. This means that the overall availability to the client is not only very good but flexible. Flexibility is key when working across different time zones. Time differences are not inhibitive, in fact a time difference can be advantageous to both client and virtual worker.
In addition to the above - virtual working brings many advantages to the virtual worker and businesses that use their services: as well as flexibility there are savings in:
- to name a few!
A virtual workers business depends on giving you the very best service; their reputation and livelihood depends on it, they are not just passing through, they are committed. Other advantages are:
Environmental benefits - no commuting, meaning less pollution
Financial benefits - lower or zero fuel costs, no work canteen lunches
Improved productivity - work is not tied to the constraints of 9-5
Reduced stress - work/life balance benefits
The idea of virtual working is catching on fast, it's a growth industry. Although official figures are not yet readily available in the UK, it is considered that in the US an estimated 50% of the workforce will be working virtually by 2020.