The importance of telecommuting/virtual office to a modern office worker cannot be overemphasized. But, before we proceed, it will be pertinent we define certain concepts like an Office, a Modern Office, Telecommuting and Virtual Office. After which we shall take a look at how the Telecommuting/Virtual office is a plus to the modern office worker.
Definition of Terms
An office is generally a room or other area where administrative work is done, but may also denote a position within an organization with specific duties attached to it (see officer, office-holder, official); the latter is, in fact, an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the location of one’s duty. When used as an adjective, the term “office” may refer to business-related tasks. In legal writing, a company or organization has offices in any place that it has an official presence, even if that presence consists of, for example, a storage silo rather than an office. An office is an architectural and design phenomenon; whether it is a small office such as a bench in the corner of a small business of extremely small size (see small office/home office), through entire floors of buildings, up to and including massive buildings dedicated entirely to one company.
In modern terms, an office usually refers to the location where white-collar workers are employed.
Is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a “telecommuter”, “teleworker”, and sometimes as a “home-sourced,” or “work-at-home” employee. Many telecommuters work from home, while others sometimes called “nomad workers”, use mobile telecommunications technology to work from coffee shops or other locations. It has to do more specifically to work undertaken at a location that reduces commuting time. These locations can be inside the home or at some other remote workplace, which is facilitated through a broadband connection, computer or phone lines, or any other electronic media used to interact and communicate. Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007).
A Virtual Office is a software as a service and server hosting facility accessible with a web browser, developed by Contact Office Group. It is a virtual office consisting of a set of interrelated tools (webmail, calendar, document storage, tasks, notes, bookmarks, etc.). It provides communication and address services without providing dedicated office space.
TELECOMMUTING AS A PLUS TO THE MODERN OFFICE WORKER
Telecommuting has served and is still serving as a plus to the modern office worker. These plus are analyzed in the job characteristics theory, a theory which provides “a set of implementing principles for enriching jobs in organizational settings”. The original version of job characteristics theory proposed a model of five “core” job characteristics (i.e. skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback) that affect five work-related outcomes (i.e. motivation, satisfaction, performance, and absenteeism and turnover) through three psychological states (i.e. experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility, and knowledge of results). They include:
The degree to which a job requires various activities, which include different job-related skills and talents. Jobholders can experience more meaningfulness in jobs that require more skills and ability than when the jobs are elementary and routine.
The degree to which the job requires the jobholders to identify and complete a work piece with a visible outcome. Workers experience more meaningfulness in a job when they are involved in the entire process rather than just being responsible for a part of the work.
The degree to which the job impacts other people’s life. The influence can be either in the immediate organization or in the external environment. Employees feel more meaningfulness in a job that substantially improves either psychological or physical well-being of others than a job that has limited impact on anyone else.
The degree to which the job provides the employee with significant freedom, independence, and discretion to plan out the work and determine the procedures in the job. For jobs with a high level of autonomy, the outcomes of the work depend on the workers’ own efforts, initiatives, and decisions; rather than on the instructions from a manager or a manual of job procedures. In such cases, the jobholders experience greater personal responsibility for their own successes and failures at work.
The degree to which the job can provide direct and clear information to workers about the effectiveness of their performance. When employees receive direct and clear information about their work performance, they have better overall knowledge of the results of the work activities.
VIRTUAL OFFICE AS A PLUS TO THE MODERN OFFICE WORKER
Just like telecommuting, a virtual office is also of benefit to the modern office worker. These benefits are outlined below:
A team of workers in an office environment working remotely, using high-tech Computer Telephone Integration software, to replace a traditional receptionist.
A virtual assistant is often a “lone eagle” working from home, who rarely meets their clients face-to-face. A virtual assistant typically has no access to CTI Software. Rates run $25 an hour and up.
Voicemail is a low-cost technology that stores voice messages electronically. Recent advances in technology allow for the conversion of Voicemail messages to email making message retrieval far more convenient for business owners. In customer service applications, voicemail has limitations. Used for customer service, voicemail has become synonymous with frustration. The complaints are legion and have inspired spoofs on the voicemail experience. Studies also show that up to 75% of callers simply hang up when their call is answered by a machine.
Virtual Office Space
A virtual office gives you a chance to own a high profile reputed address in a city of your choice, at a fraction of the buying or renting cost of such an address.
Phone answering service
Virtual office phone answering service bridging the gap between you and your numerous clients.
A prestigious building to be used as the business address. A professional address alleviates the privacy and personal security concerns of running a home-based business. A user can expand into new markets by utilizing a provider with multiple locations to establish a professional presence in the desired growth markets.
The professional address can be used for accepting, sending and forwarding mail without the connotations of a P.O. Box. Under US law, a P.O. Box is to be clearly indicated and so not conducive for most corporate entities in this regard. Some VO providers offer 24/7 access to individually assigned and locked mailboxes. This allows the staff of a VO user to have a centralized location as a convenient vehicle for the secure transfer of paper documents 24/7. A mail-only provider may be subject to USPS CMRA regulations.
Open Envelope Scanning
A handler opens the mail and scans the contents, emailing or transferring the digitized documents onto a cloud-based file storage system that users can access immediately. The opened physical mail is then shredded unless further storage is requested.
No doubt, from the detailed analysis of the benefits or advantages of telecommuting/virtual office to the modern office above, the modern office worker’s job has been simplified in that, work has been made easy for the modern worker. With the help of telecommuting/virtual office, the modern office worker has been very productive. On the part of the employee, however, it has also proffered a reasonable solution to some work challenges and has also made the efficient flow of work.
- Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1524-1541.
- Patricia Reaney (January 24, 2012), About one in five workers worldwide telecommute: poll, Reuters, retrieved June 29, 2012.
- The Virtual Office: The Gateway to Growth.
- MacDonald, Peter; “Future Office ‘Virtually’ Here”. BCBR May 1996, Vol. 15, Issue #5