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Nowadays, the word ‘outsourcing’ is being replaced with terms like ‘home working’, ‘fexible working’or ‘virtual assistance.’  There are many benefits for people working from home, including better time management, avoiding the costs of childcare, reducing the stress of travelling, empowering the individual and so on. But old ideas die hard and many business owners are not sure about how to manage or motivate a virtual team or how to measure their effectiveness. In fact, many think that working from home is an easy option. (Try asking a busy mum how easy it is!)

Traditionally, accountancy and payroll have been accepted as activities which can be outsourced or out of office but we are beginning to see other activities, such as call minding, telesales, diary management and data cleaning, dictation, transcriptions, HR, Public Relations and Marketing, IT support, Training and development, being sent out to the virtual community. Activities which would have traditionally been in-house are beginning to be run at home or even outsourced to smaller businesses. Some of the larger organisations, including names like BT, Sony and some local authorities, are actively encouraging flexible working for certain members of staff in order to reduce office and car parking space, travelling costs and develop more sustainable businesses.

Of course, there are risks to this new way of working and many business owners, managers will need to change the way they manage and motivate their staff as the old ways are gradually eroded away. But will it be worth the effort? What will we we need to learn to do differently as managers and as employees or contracted staff?   David Vane Workzmarter.com