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The Pros and Cons of a Virtual Employee

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by EBell

Whether you’re working within a small business or are part of a large corporation, you may decide to hire a virtual employee. A virtual employee is someone who works remotely for a business. Hiring a virtual employee is nerve-racking for any business owner. If your employee isn’t in the office regularly – if at all – they can sometimes be difficult to manage. There are pros and cons that come with hiring a virtual employee.

Pros

From lower salaries to higher quality hires, the pros of a virtual employee depend on your research. Depending on your industry, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by hiring a virtual employee or team.

  • When you hire from outside major cities, you can often find high-quality employees at lower rates. When you expand your search to places outside the United States, you can find even cheaper rates. You’ll also save on overhead costs incurred by renting an office.
  • You can reach more professionals and find the right employee to meet your needs. When searching locally, businesses can be stumped by only finding the best skills around, not the best skills in general.
  • A longer work-day with a quick turn-around time for projects can arise from hiring a virtual employee. If your new hire is in a different time-zone, even by just a few hours, your business’s work day is extended. With a significant time difference, sending tasks at the end of your work day could be completed and returned the next morning.
  • Increased communications are a necessity for businesses with virtual employees. You’ll improve your ability to articulate thoughts and you’ll also be able gain various different viewpoints. Virtual employees are a great resource for feedback and discussion.

Cons

The virtual employee industry is fairly new and this can cause problems when it comes to hiring a virtual team. There are signs to look out for, such as a lack of remote work experience, and things to consider, such as digital aptitude, before you make any hiring decisions.

  • Just because the candidates consider themselves self-motivated enough to complete the job remotely doesn’t mean there are. You could end up hiring someone who lacks the motivation and self-discipline to get things done from home.
  • Because this is a virtual relationship, look for someone who communicates effectively online. Whether this is Skype or instant messaging, if you hire someone with the right technical skills, but poor communication skills, you could end up frustrated.
  • Tracking the progress of a remote employee is difficult. You’ll have to find a way that works well with your business and employees to track success and setbacks.
  • Company culture is hard to create when the majority of employees, or major company players, are virtually based. Investors could decide not to contribute to your company if they can’t see how their money is being used or by whom. Environment matters in business and if you don’t have one established, it could hurt your business.

While hiring a virtual employee has the appeals of lower costs and the ability to hire strictly based on skills, versus location, there can be downsides such as an unfit candidate or the potential for less investor funds. When you begin to consider hiring a virtual employee, weigh the pros and cons before making any decisions about the process and a potential candidate.

Bio: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as HR outsourcing and social media trends. She is a web content writer for Business.com.

 
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