A few days ago Darren posted up “The Virtual Worker Manifesto” which listed the top ten rules for being a virtual worker. It does a really good job of explaining how to cope with the challenges of being a virtual worker but also reveals some of the benefits. Andrew Parsons replied to the post on his own blog with some more good points.
I wanted to take this opportunity to add my thoughts to the conversation since I am fortunate enough to be a virtual worker. My main concern for the 99.99% of people out there that aren’t virtual workers is that it is going to be as much a reality for them as the paperless office was (aside: if you wanted to create a paperless office you need to get rid of printers, yet printers are cheaper than they ever where before).
The thing about virtual workers is that they need a virtual office, and getting a virtual office involves a lot more than just enabling employees to VPN into the corporate network from across the Internet.
A lot of people I know assume that being a virtual worker, in a virtual office means that you are never going to see your virtual co-workers. This is not true. Being a virtual worker is about having the flexibility to work anywhere. Typically you will have some bases of operation whether it be your house, a client site for a period of time, or your favorite park or coffee shop.
Sometimes, even though you are a virtual worker, you have to spend periods of time in the same physical space as the other people you work with, rather than seeing this as a negative virtual worker experience you should look at it as an opportunity to learn things about the people you work with that you couldn’t any other way – it is a virtual worker treat!