Permanent Consultant, Bertie Siggers, interviews two experienced virtual assistants about their tips, in order to help personal assistants with the transition to working remotely. They cover: Their favourite technology Staying motivated and productive while working from home Their remote workspace Structuring their day Learning opportunities Creating boundaries Improving communication with their principals The benefits and
Are you considering the transition to a virtual assistant position? With added flexibility and the opportunity to work from home, it’s an attractive career path for many experienced PAs and EAs. However, as with any new role, there are job-specific challenges that you may not have encountered in your previous positions. Understanding and acknowledging these can go a long way in ensuring professional success.
It can get a little lonely
While working at home means you can pop that load of washing on, or let a repairs person in, it also means you’re at risk of feeling isolated as you miss out on the camaraderie of an office. If you are normally a social person, this could feel a bit lonely and drive you to distraction. To counteract this, surround yourself with people at a local café, or head to a library or co-working space. Even the presence of people can help to drive productivity and reduce distractions.
Less regular income
While there is opportunity to work full-time as a VA for just one client, most jobs we see at Tiger Virtual are on a part-time, project or temporary basis. This means you’re less likely to have a regular stream of income and may need to look at taking on multiple projects. You’ll need to rely on your time management skills to juggle different clients and their workloads, as well as consciously think about business development, ensuring that your pipeline of work is always full. Signing up with a virtual jobs agency like Tiger Virtual is just one way to do this, as it ensures you will be contacted when relevant roles come in.
Unlike traditional PAs who commonly have a daily 1:1 with their bosses, VAs have to work extra hard to ensure strong communication is maintained. With most contact taking place over virtual platforms such as email, messaging and phone, it’s essential to make sure you’re as clear as possible in all dealings. Consider your questions before asking them, ensuring that they are well-structured, targeted and will generate the answers you need.
You also need to establish what the best form of communication is and how frequently you need to communicate with your client – this way, you are both on the same page and can work more efficiently.
With no HR department, virtual assistants need to look after their own administration, including chasing leads and fielding enquiries; generating, sending and following up invoices; managing expenses and maintaining their marketing efforts. This is on top of business development, cutting into the time you can actually spend working. VAs must therefore use their exceptional time management and organisational skills to make these processes as efficient as possible. In some cases, it may be worthwhile investing in accounting software to streamline these procedures.
With no office to travel to and no set hours, establishing and maintaining the line between your professional and personal lives can be more difficult as a VA. While many PA jobs do not subscribe to the normal working hours, working as a VA requires a self-implemented structure, allowing you to truly relax outside working hours. To ensure you can actually turn off, set the standard early on with your client, establishing when and how you will be available. While some extenuating circumstances may see you broach these times, having a structure in place will make things much easier for both parties.
Some of your clients may be very high profile, or work on very sensitive documents. Therefore, data security is of the highest priority. Wherever possible, best practice is to remotely login into their databases, using a secure username and password. If this isn’t offered, take the time to discuss how you will send and receive information with your client. You can also ask your client if they have data, security and privacy policies and if you need to sign a copy – these documents will provide an overview of their expectations and clarify any operational procedures you may need to follow.
Should you lose your phone or laptop, you must report this to the company straight away, as well as take all steps to ensure that no-one else can access the information, such as wiping the data remotely.
Finally, GDPR legislation also applies to virtual assistants, meaning you are responsible for the safe storage and justification of any data you hold, including your clients’ names, emails and old documents. If you have been a VA for a lengthy amount of time and you haven’t done so already, take the time to review the documents saved on your computer – are there old files from old clients that you no longer need? Are they saved anywhere else, like an old hard drive? If you are just starting up as a VA, taking precautions like this from the outset can save you lots of time and hassle down the line.
A virtual PA job can be a great option for those looking for flexibility and a new challenge. However, before embarking on this career path, it is worth considering both the benefits and challenges and establishing if the positives outweigh the negatives.
Tiger Virtual can help you find a VA job. Get in touch today!