07/26/2012 06:33 pm ET | Updated Sep 25, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Going Virtual

"Without continual growth and progress,
such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."

Where is your office? Do you have a traditional work arrangement in a corporate environment or are you on the road more than a broken yellow line? Is your office in a specified corner of your home and are you one of the virtuals? Perhaps your office resides in a shoulder bag in the form of a lap top or tablet and you don't leave home without it. Ever.

More and more people are working the mobile/virtual way these days. The advantages are many and although "more spare time" seems to be one of them, spare time is most likely a sad and unreachable illusion.

Going virtual or in-house (your own house) solves many economical issues and is also a seemingly green or pro-environmental alternative.

• Less traffic = less pollution = less time lost due to commuting
• Less company overhead = company money saved = more money earned potential
• Less time away from home = cut day care costs for aging parents or young children
• Less stress = less friction at home and at work = less illness = less time off from work

While these all sound great, related and unexpected complications will most likely arise. Those who have the opportunity to clock-in when they want tend to do just that. Anytime. Anywhere. Converse to the stated advantages, disadvantages loom and can easily cloud an otherwise sunny virtual day.

• Longer working hours, because you can and it's there. Always there.
• Disrupted sleep because minds are preoccupied and wander to your in-house, virtual office more often and more easily.
• Requires individuals to be self-driven and enterprising -> not everyone is.
• Less commitment to colleagues and employers, as well as to clients or customers due to less developed personal relationships and less face-to-face interaction.

These disadvantages are weighty but with so many clear-cut advantages, there has to be a way to make it work. Given the continuing state of the economy, it would appear that going virtual is becoming more popular and will probably be around for a while, if not forever. Another way "how we work" has been altered.

5 Rules for Going Virtual -- How to Make it Work

1. Know Your Role. If you are self-employed or work with a small group, clearly define all roles. Written job descriptions and /or contracts with specific duties outlined will distribute the work load evenly while creating and presenting clear expectations for all.

2. Have Defined Working Hours.
Allotting time for email, research, and conference calls will assist in efforts to not overdo it. Rules like, "No computer after 7pm" may seem unreasonable at first but will force you to be more productive during daytime or defined working hours.

3. DO NOT Have Your Computer in your Bedroom.
How can you possibly rest soundly with a constant work reminder just a few feet away? When I first started working virtually four years ago, I fell into terrible sleeping habits. It wasn't until I moved my computer out of my room that I was able to sleep soundly for my necessary 6-7 hours each night.

4. Meet Face-to-Face.
Make an effort to meet with co-workers/employers and clients or customers regularly, face-to-face, as often as is feasible. Twitter convos, Skype, Google, or Facebook can help considerably, but these are not perfect solutions. Find the balance of real life and virtual relationship-building that works for you and those for whom you provide with either a service or a product.

5. Set Goals.
Create goals which force you to grow and stretch, that are difficult, that improve your work ethic. But it is extremely important to not only make them attainable but also achievable -- as in successful.

With social technologies like Skype, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Foursquare, ubiquitous wifi, and mobile everything -- the crazy techs foreshadowed in a Dick Tracy comic strip in the early 1930's are no longer so far-fetched. Until Beam Me Up is a reality, virtual is surely the wave to catch.

But working virtually will not work without considerable effort and it most certainly is not easy. Most importantly, it isn't for everyone.

To whom is the quote at the top of this post attributed?

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."

Benjamin Franklin said it... over 200 years ago. Pretty smart guy, then and now.