The ‘’Gig Economy’’ series sheds light on the future of work and the pros and cons of hiring freelancers and gig workers.

Our guest today is Daniel Ramsey, CEO & Founder, MyOutDesk.

Daniel, your company provides virtual assistants on demand. What are the advantages associated with employing gig workers?

While there was a time that only bigger, Fortune-500 companies could afford to outsource, these days, online-based companies have made virtual staffing an option for smaller businesses as well. Multiple studies show that by the year 2027, over 50% of companies and businesses will be offering remote work as an option to their employees and, in fact, remote employment has increased by 40% in the past 5 years.

Our company specializes in remote & virtual assistant staffing, with approximately half of our corporate staff and 100% of our virtual assistants working remotely using modern telecommuting technologies, including phones, video chat, and collaborative web apps. Although we currently serve different industries, we primarily began providing our services to those in the Real Estate world. As a founder, I realized that Realtors and Real Estate Agents spend so much time on daily busywork that could and should be delegated. We wanted to offer these solutions to solopreneurs who were accustomed to wearing all the hats in their business and were stuck and unable to grow because of that. Given the costs of owning or renting a brick and mortar space, employment, benefits, etc., outsourcing made the most sense.  Not only is remote assistance more cost-efficient, but also it has been proven through many studies that remote workers are more productive.

The remote workforce is more cost-efficient but may have a dark side. Are remote workers as loyal as in-office employees?

It depends on the employee, the company, and the organizational culture. It's been said that employees don't leave the job - they leave the manager. In a good organization with a well-defined mission, reasonable pay & achievable goals, employee loyalty is the same for remote & in-office staff.
Based on our experience of over 11 years, we find that for the most part, our virtual assistants are extremely loyal. If you provide an environment where your online staff can thrive and you make them feel like they are a part of your business, they tend to treat it like their own, thus they are invested in the value they can bring to your organization. They work hard and are devoted to all aspects of the business. We have found that the best working relationships bloom from where our clients make sure that their virtual assistants feel that they are a valued member of the team. They are included in daily meetings and business events and the rest of the team makes an effort to get to know them personally and professionally. Opportunities also play a huge part in loyalty. Clients who provide a chance for career growth and who constantly provide areas to increase knowledge and expertise find that their virtual assistants do become valuable team members.  These are the business relationships that last for years and years.

The sense of belonging to the team and the organization is always key no matter if the company is remote or not.  However, working from home or a coffee shop may be full of distractions. Are remote workers more or less productive than their peers working 9 to 5?

This depends on the individual worker, but typically remote workers are more productive because they have fewer distractions in the form of meetings, team-building exercises, etc. Consider the case of startup founders & entrepreneurs: these individuals typically work harder & achieve far more than office-bound staff, and they work from home, out of local coffee shops, and in all sorts of non-conventional locations. Similarly, the virtual assistants that MyOutDesk employs, work remotely from home offices where they're able to focus on the task at hand, rather than being bombarded with distractions by colleagues all day long. What all these folks have in common is working independently, rather than collaborating socially. It helps keep them focused on their responsibilities and even gives them the kind of environment where they are more creative and are able to find solutions and develop processes to help their clients and the business. In fact, over two-thirds of companies who offer work from home options report that employees who work remotely are generally more productive, while 86% of employees who work remotely say that they feel they are more productive.

Having everyone work from non-conventional locations can be a challenge. Is it easier or harder to manage remote teams?

This largely depends on the organization, but in corporate America, management is conducted by team meetings, emails & task-management software. In the modern workplace, remote & virtual staff have just as much access to these as in-house staff does through phone & video conferencing solutions, so there's no issue with management. Remote companies play a big role in helping clients manage their remote team members by providing said software and other means to ensure that your remote team members are in sync with the flow of your business regardless of the distance.
Managing a remote team should be no different than managing an in-house one. It will take some time getting used to it, but given the systems available to us today, it shouldn’t be a matter of what’s easier, but a matter of a shift in perspective. We rely on many systems that are online regardless of the location of our team. We use program management software, online filing systems, CRMs, etc. Managing a remote team is not really too much of a stretch from what we currently do in our offices. We believe that global is the new “local” and with the help of technology, pretty much anything can be done virtually.

Hypothetically, virtual assistants can be based anywhere in the world. Do remote working arrangements allow you to tap into a diverse talent pool?

Definitely. Local hires are subject to tremendous geographic limitations, which is why companies like Apple; Google & Microsoft are willing to accept the tremendous expense of office space in some of the most expensive cities in the nation. They pay extra for office space, parking, and even salaries to have access to specialized labor in the nation's top tech centers. However, remote & virtual companies have access to that same pool of labor without the overhead, which is a driver for remote & virtual employment solutions. Furthermore, shaking off the need to hire locally allows businesses to cast a wider net, thus allowing for more specific and exact hires. By being open to remote staffing, you have a higher chance of finding exactly the right person for the responsibilities you need to delegate.

About the author

Lilia Stoyanov is CEO and angel investor at Transformify. A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. It was fulfilling for me to see people developing their leadership skills by leading an employee resource group.

About Transformify

Trusted by recruiters from 150+ countries, Transformify offers an integrated suite comprising of HR Software, ATS, Freelance Platform, Employer Branding, Diversity Hiring  and billing & payments.