Davinci Virtual Blog



Virtual Office Jobs Rising Despite US Hiring Slowdown

BOULDER, CO—Looking for a virtual office job this summer? You may be in luck. Despite disappointing reports of the U.S. adding only 69,000 jobs in May, FlexJobs reports a boost in flexible jobs, which include telecommuting, virtual office, part-time and other flexible positions. In fact, FlexJobs now lists more than 10,000 flexible jobs.

"For companies that may be on the fence about hiring, telecommuting jobs can provide big benefits such as a way to hire new employees and save on costs like overhead and real estate," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. "This may explain why in a down market, FlexJobs continues to see an increase in open positions."

Which fields have the largest number of flexible job openings? In May, the industries most likely to offer virtual office jobs were, in this order, Medical & Health, Administrative, Customer Service, Education & Training, and Sales.

The top five fields that saw the largest increase in open positions from April to May were Science, Management, Research, Web & Software Development and Medical & Health.

"One similarity to the national employment report for May is the field of health care, where we've also seen steady growth in flexible medical and health jobs," says Fell.

So, if you are looking for a virtual office job, especially in one of the industries listed above, the time may be right to check out FlexJobs. Only professional jobs that can both be confirmed as legitimate and as having some kind of work flexibility—such as telecommuting, part-time or flexible schedule, or freelance contracts—are included in FlexJobs’ job database.

Dispelling the Disconnected Telecommuter Myth, Part 2

MILWAUKEE, WISC.—Yesterday, we looked at one of the biggest myths around virtual offices: people who telecommute regularly feel less attached to the organization they work.

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study actually showed that the more teleworkers communicated with others, the more stressed they felt due to interruptions. And this was negatively associated with their identification with the organization.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study also evaluated differences between teleworkers, which include virtual office workers, and traditional office workers. It turns out that teleworkers regularly worked at least three days a week from a location other than the office, and office workers worked at least three days a week in an office or shared workspace alongside their colleagues. Each set of employees used various modes of communication, including face-to-face, phone or e-mail contact, instant messaging and videoconferencing.

Consider some additional outcomes of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study as it relates to virtual office workers:

  • Office workers reported significantly greater levels of stress due to interruptions compared to teleworkers, but their organizational identification was not affected by this stress.

  • For teleworkers, stress from interruptions was associated with increased face-to-face communication, email, instant messaging and videoconferencing.

  • For office workers, stress was only related to increased face-to-face and email communication. Results indicate, however, that phone communication generally did not induce the same degree of stress as the other modes.

Kathryn Fonner, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant professor of communication, says the study findings emphasize a need to address the stress and time pressure associated with the constant barrage of workplace communication for everyone. Virtual office workers are included in this mix.

“Teleworkers should strategically manage their connectivity in order to balance the benefits and drawbacks of communicating with others, while organizations should focus on streamlining communication,” Fonner says. “This may include limiting mass e-mails, diminishing the number of weekly meetings, creating information stores and fostering an environment where employees can schedule uninterrupted time to work.”

Dispelling the Disconnected Telecommuter Myth, Part 1

MILWAUKEE, WISC.—There’s a lot of assumptions, call them myths, around virtual office users. One of them sounds like this: People who telecommute regularly feel less attached to the organization they work for; they feel isolated and disconnected. But that’s a myth, according to a new study out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Indeed, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study explored how teleworkers' (which include employees who work from virtual offices) usage of various forms of communication is related to their feelings of closeness to coworkers, as well as to feelings of stress from interruptions. The study also tested how these communication outcomes were associated with teleworkers’ sense of identity as part of their organization.

The overarching result: More communication does not equal more organizational identification for teleworkers. In fact, the opposite was true, says Kathryn Fonner, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant professor of communication.

“It is often assumed that teleworkers need a lot of communication and contact with the organization in order to diminish their sense of distance and to develop a sense of belonging,” says Fonner. “But we found that the more teleworkers communicated with others, the more stressed they felt due to interruptions, and this was negatively associated with their identification with the organization.”

Although feeling a sense of closeness with others during workplace interactions was associated with positive organizational identification, the study found that the negative relationship between stress from interruptions and organizational identification was stronger. As a virtual office user, I can relate. Part of the benefit of working from a virtual office is boosting productivity by not being involved in so much chitchat. When the chitchat rises, the virtual office productivity declines.

Fonner has her own theory—and it actually matches mine. She says one possible reason for teleworkers to feel more stressed by more communication is that they consider fewer interruptions as being one of the perks of their remote work arrangement: “When teleworkers feel they are constantly interrupted, this may decrease the value of organizational membership for them, and diminish their attachment to the organization.”

Most Millennials Appreciate Virtual Office Work

NEW YORK—Every wondered which flexible jobs arrangements are most in demand? FlexHourJobs.com, a job search site that targets Baby Boomers and stay-at-home moms that want to re-enter the workforce, is offering some insight with a list of the most searched categories for flexible work options.

The list includes flexible start and end times; the ability to work from home, some or all of the time; the ability to take time off during the workday occasionally for family duties; return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption; career breaks or caregiving leave of absences and the ability to move from full-time to part-time and then back again later without a loss of status or pay. Virtual offices fit into the work from home some of the time or all of the time category.

"President Obama recently voiced the concern for women, that they may be finding the job market too hostile when looking for work—while trying to maintain their childcare and elder care duties—and they could decide not to look anymore," says Jacqueline Sloboda, founder of FlexHourJobs.com. "He is right on in that the problem is that women constitute more than half of the population. For this reason, many employers are willing to go the extra mile in order to keep and retain good talent."

Indeed, studies show that employers are beginning to increase options for managing when and where employees work—as well as reducing some options that affect how they work—as the economy recovers. In a move to attract and retain top talent, employers are using non-financial rewards like telecommuting from a virtual office.

And it could work. Most people want some degree of flexibility in the way they work and a virtual office is a convenient, low-cost solution. According to FlexHourJobs, 87 percent of Baby Boomers say they want some say in when and where they work. Almost 79 percent of Gen X'ers and 89 percent of Millennials are also joining the ranks interested in the possibility of working some or part of the time remotely from home.

Is Working From a Virtual Office Safer?

BOSTON—I haven’t seen any specific studies that offer insights into whether or not working in a virtual office is safer than working from a traditional office. But we can draw some conclusions from a new Stables.com survey of small business managers and office workers on office health and safety.

The Staples survey showed gaps in office workers' awareness of companies' safety plans and preparedness. That, the survey concluded, is a situation that could lead to increased accidents and injuries.

For example, 70 percent of managers say their company has an emergency communication plan. But nearly half of office workers are either unsure if a plan exists or say their company doesn't have a plan. In addition, 50 percent of office workers said they participate in safety drills only once every few years or never. Only 19 percent of office workers think their company is prepared for a major medical emergency.

It seems to me that working from a virtual office would eliminate a lot of that confusion. I mean, if you are working at home from a virtual office you know what to do in case of an emergency. There may not be any formal policy, but it’s common sense. Most people have a first aid kit at home and if the emergency is any greater would seek medical attention.

In the case of natural disasters, like flooding, 50 percent of employees in the Staples survey felt their company was adequately prepared. That’s concerning, since the National Weather Service Forecast Office reports that flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other severe weather-related event, costing an average of $4.6 billion a year. Of course, if you are working at home from a virtual office flooding is probably not as great a risk. When flood warnings come, you simply evacuate and shift your virtual office somewhere else.

All in all, virtual offices expose you to fewer safety and health issues—even the common cold. Working from a virtual office doesn’t mean accidents never happen, but when they do there aren’t corporate legal hoops to jump through before you can appropriately respond.