Orange County Staffing News

COVID 19 – Working from Home Catalyst – Virtual Assistants on the Rise

The Office, “an expensive artifact”?

COVID 19 – Every Change, No Matter How Bad, Has A Balancing Upside

As business owners realize that staff working from home, usually produces major productivity benefits. That their proximity is also no longer relevant, it is only a tiny step for them to make the next leap and gain even greater cost benefits. Shifting to lower cost international workers, (virtual assistants) will naturally follow.

 

Office Based Workers, an Industrial Age Hangover

The industrial age created a shift from paying people for what they do, to paying them for the hours they work. It also caused a migration from rural areas to major cities which in turn created the inner-city slums and associated crime that followed.


Although typical industrial age factory like work has declined in the U.S., like a bad hangover, industrial age thinking has however, persisted. This thought process until now has been inherently part of the office worker information age business mentality. This has resulted in large corporate offices where people are packed into chicken coop style cubes with how long they spend in their cubes being seen as a competitive metric.

Having personally spent years working in an office cube I, like a lot of people, struggle to find anything positive to say about that environment!


The COVID 19 Work from Home Paradigm Shift

In just the last couple of months the number of people working from home has jumped from one in fifty, to more than one in three people. That’s not a small shift…

Covid 19 is clearly driving an accelerated transformation in the business community away from industrial age thinking. It is helping us to finally put the industrial age legacy behind us.

This is not new – The work from home / work at home (WFH/WAH) revolution has been steadily growing in the background for years with some companies naturally making the leap and realizing productivity benefits and substantial cost savings.  Covid 19 has given this already occurring trend, an exponential push.

The U.S. is a global laggard. Working from home is more common in some other countries than it is in the United States.

Twitter as an example, is one of the most high-profile companies to make the leap, saying their staff never have to come back to the office if they do not want to.

Covid-19: is working from home really the new normal? | The Economist

Work Performance Shift – Hours to Output

Hours worked does not matter. If you are still concerned if your staff are working a full eight-hour day you are mentally stuck in the industrial age.

With the shift to home working, managers are however, having to re-invent how they think about measuring productivity.

When you cannot easily see your staff show up and leave the office you have to rethink how you are measuring the work they are performing. Smart managers quickly shift from, ‘how many hours a person has worked?’ to ‘what has this person produced?’. In other words, the question becomes, ‘how can they measure staff output?’

Are you paying your workers based on their output, the amount they contribute to your business, or for the amount of time they spend at work? For some types of work hours present will always be a requirement however hours present is not a catchall for every worker.

 

Office Costs – Direct and Hidden

Offices are an expensive overhead. Really expensive.  Physical offices are an overhead the majority of business owners are beginning to realize they can do without. The average costs for office space is in the region of $10,000 per employee per year. A small company we work closely with is saving over $35,000 a month by sending their staff home to work there.

Thank you COVID 19?

There is also the hidden cost for employees. Renting or owning a house near their office in a big city can be a real burden. As soon as proximity to an office is no longer an issue, the criteria for where a person chooses to live can change dramatically. A criterion more associated with lifestyle and environment instead of commute. A demise of suburbia in the making?

San Francisco apartment rent prices are dropping fast as tech companies embrace remote work.

Technology a WFH Enabler

The rise of technologies such as Zoom video conferencing are amazing enablers that most people get used to using extremely quickly. There are many others such as collaborative applications, Microsoft Teams and Trello.


Doubters Be Gone!

Doubters suggest workers will lose effectiveness due to being physically separated from other workers.

Work at home does require some adjustments in attitude, personal discipline, and habits. However, once the change is made, the benefits can be pretty dramatic for most people.

  • No more time spent in commute
  • More time with family
  • More time for hobbies, exercise, and sport
  • Less office politics
  • Less time wasted in water cooler chat (gossip?)
  • Less pollution

To be successful and enjoy working from home some adjustments are par for the course:

  • Create a quiet office space
  • Establish a personal routine
  • Do something specific, create a state change to end your day
  • Realize that 9-5pm is no longer the default
    • Work hours to suit your personal preferences instead
    • Focus on output instead of hours

The demise of the prison cell office cube – We say good riddance to it!

What’s Next?

If remote working is the new paradigm, and proximity to the company is no longer relevant, then state and country borders can crumble much more quickly.

The Personal Travel Paradigm Shift

A few years ago, I had to spend a month in Barcelona. At the same time, I still had a company to run. Since my company was already 100% virtual – all staff worked from home, I discovered I could run the company seamlessly, even though I was physically on the other side of the planet.

 

The cost of staying a month wasn’t substantially different to the cost of a week.

 

Most of my clients had no idea I had changed my location from Utah to Spain. Working from a small apartment in Spain had zero impact on any aspect of my work. Have you been to Barcelona? Most people dream of traveling to exotic places. They think of it in terms of using that one or two weeks of vacation time to do it. What if instead, you could travel and stay somewhere for a month or even six months, without having to cram the whole thing into a frantic week?

 

What would your quality of life be like?

 

The International Worker (Virtual Assistant) Paradigm Shift

When starting my business 12 years ago I hired full time staff in the Philippines. I discovered they are intelligent, English speaking, computer savvy, and well educated. Best of all, they are generally hard working and loyal. The clincher was that their cost was, and still is, a fraction of the cost of hiring in the U.S.

I now have over 25 Filipino full-time staff and 6 U.S. staff. The U.S. based staff are managerial creative knowledge workers. Each has their own team of Filipino workers. Because I had Filipino staff to start with I was able to save enough money to start hiring US staff!

As business owners realize that proximity is no longer a constraint and WFH is the new paradigm, it is only a small leap for them to shift to lower cost international workers.

 

Think About It

  • The death of the cities
  • The demise of the prison cell office cube
  • The extinction of the daily commute

 

I say good riddance to them all!