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How Coronavirus is affecting work in the UK

Why working virtually is now more important than ever

With the recent Coronavirus announcement that UK offices could close for up to two months, it has become glaringly apparent that one of the benefits of remote working is a more sustainable, more resilient workforce. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who gave the announcement, said that the UK should prepare to face disruption to many normal activities “for quite a long period”. Not quite so, businesses that use virtual assistants – read on…

A Virtual Assistant does not need to commute. This keeps them away from places they may catch or spread illnesses – not just Coronavirus, but the common cold, and flu. For example, the University of Bristol recently compared Oyster card route information and Public Health England data on flu-like illnesses to find higher rates of airborne infections in Londoners that take longer Tube journeys through busier terminals.

Neither does a Virtual Assistant need to be in a crowded office, and in the coming months can comply easily with the current advice from the World Health Organisation to “stay indoors and avoid contact with other people”. We can confidently say this is an advantage to PA Business Support clients, whose day-to-day operations will be less impacted thanks to our VAs. However, if your own business is almost completely office-based and following the WHO advice poses a challenge, then consider this – the demand for virtual working is growing. The Office of National Statistics believes that 50% of UK employees will be working remotely by next year, and 90% of staff say they’d like to work remotely at least part-time.

Virtual working increases productivity

Freed from the distractions, noise, and sometimes politics of a busy workplace, the majority of remote workers experience an improvement in performance when left to their own devices. Our Virtual Assistants who have previously worked in offices have often remarked to us how easy it is to get distracted in those environments, and how much more efficient they are when working from home. At PA Business Support, we believe that in order for a modern business to be successful, it must adopt a fluid approach, embracing a ‘work-as-a-service’ model, instead of attempting to define when and where their employees should feel their most productive.

Virtual Working increases wellbeing

When it comes to happiness, health and wellbeing, virtual working is far more successful than on-site working, which can directly impact the business. We frequently see statistics and surveys re-iterating this. For example, a new MerchantSavvy report highlights that employees face increased stress and anxiety when working in offices, negatively impacting their performance. Someone who has chosen to be remote in order to strike the right work/life balance is more likely to be (a) happy, and (b) operating at maximum efficiency, both of which put them in a better position to be wholeheartedly invested in the success of the businesses they work for.

Our VAs do most of their meetings and calls over VoIP services like Zoom and GoToConnect, using a headset and webcam. While this initially feels impersonal to some of our clients it rapidly becomes a comfortable habit and saves a lot of time on faff like double booked rooms, eliminating or avoiding noisy distractions (or colleagues) and allows them to get straight down to business.

Conclusion

In our opinion, modern businesses need to be agile and innovative. That means encouraging diverse people to work together in focused teams. It’s easy to assume that the best strategy would be to keep everyone in the same room or building, however, as we hope we’ve shown, this is not necessarily the case – and it’s certainly not the future.

If you’re considering a virtual workforce and want some expert advice, give us a call – we’re happy to help!

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