As the song goes, “ nine to five workers ” in an office used to be the norm, but now it is a thing of the past. Around the world, one in five workers telecommute frequently and 10 percent work from home every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, 24 percent of employed people worked from home during work days in 2010.
The world is evolving as technology grows, and soon the standard will no longer be physically going into the office. The future of work is exporting business internationally, but 34% of firms say the biggest obstacle in expanding is setting up a physical office in a foreign country. Welcome to a new age of the business world, where people are conducting business virtually.
The virtual business world is linked by technology. Teams of workers from various locations across the world can now collaborate in real-time to work on the same projects. Advancements in social media and other Internet applications, such as Skype, allow for deals and transactions to take place between businesses in various parts of world.
Virtual business has many advantages:
- Unlimited Talent
- Companies are not limited to hiring local employees in their area; instead, they can hire the best talent from around the world to create a unique team.
- For example, the base of IBM’s business strategy is to unite cultures, languages, professions and perspectives. As a result, they have designed a program specifically for the hiring of international students, giving them ideal opportunities to make career advancements with IBM.
- Cost and Time Effective
- Businesses save time and money because they do not need to invest money in office space and commutes. Video conferencing and other collaboration tools significantly reduce travel times and costs.
- Alternatively, companies can use flexible workspaces such as Regus. Regus has offices you can use all over the world whenever your company requires that presence, a secretary who will forward your calls to your cell phone and conference rooms you can use as needed.
- A study conducted by Corporate Executive Board discovered Volvo reduced travel costs by 50 percent for their engineering team and by 45 percent for their product support team meetings through strong utilization of virtual tools.
- Easing the Language Barrier
- According to a Regus study, today only 48% of firms demand local language fluency. Translation services ease language barriers. While these do not match being able to communicate in a client’s or co-worker’s native tongue, they permit communication at a high level.
- Language translation companies offer many services such as document translation, website translation, multilingual publishing and software localization. Large companies such as Marriott, Compaq, The Home Depot and HP use language translating services.
While face-to-face communication is still important, people need to learn to adapt to global competition and a more dynamic marketplace. To avoid falling behind, businesses and their workers should step up their efforts to expand their virtual horizons.