Pretty much every serious blogger and online entrepreneur I know has at least one virtual assistant. Think of a VA like an administrative assistant at a regular office building, except they are working remotely. Duties can include practically any administrative task you can think of – including handling emails, bookkeeping, completing sales, customer service, editing websites, and much more. Specializations in areas like social media management or online ad management is another option.
Virtual assistants, commonly referred to as VAs, come in all shapes and sizes. Many companies will hire VAs if they are looking for help with online administrative tasks (email, calendar management, data entry, etc), but don’t necessarily want to hire a full time employee just yet. They’re the perfect work from home job for busy people that may need to drop their work at a moments notice, or have very sporadic availability.
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Some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of telecommuting can be explained by job characteristic theory, which proposes that the traits and tasks of the job itself affect employees’ work attitudes and behavior. If five characteristics of a job are present (skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback), then the employee in that job will experience more internal work motivation, satisfaction with personal growth opportunities, general job satisfaction, higher job performance, and lower absenteeism and turnover. Many studies have provided evidence that job characteristics influence employees’ behaviors and attitudes. Additionally, job characteristics can interact with individual differences to impact employee attitudes and behavior. Of these five job characteristics, telework specifically changes autonomy and feedback compared to face-to-face work and can thus influence employees’ behaviors and attitudes. According to Job Characteristics Theory, changes in autonomy and feedback influence work behaviors and attitudes more than a change in skill variety, task identity, or task significance.
The job characteristic dimension, feedback, increases employees' knowledge of results. Feedback refers to the degree that an individual receives direct and clear information about his or her performance related to work activities. Feedback is particularly important so that the employees continuously learn about how they are performing. Electronic communication provides fewer cues for teleworkers and thus, they may have more difficulties interpreting and gaining information, and subsequently, receiving feedback. When a worker is not in the office, there is limited information and greater ambiguity, such as in assignments and expectations. Role ambiguity, when situations have unclear expectations as to what the worker is to do, may result in greater conflict, frustration, and exhaustion.