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 Their tips for
Virtual assistants are increasingly in demand, providing comprehensive and flexible secretarial and administrative support to businesses and private individuals, all from a remote location.
When hiring a virtual assistant, it is important to understand that they still require an element of on-boarding and management, even if you aren’t working side by side. After all, your remote team are only as good as your ability to manage them effectively.
With no face-to-face contact between a manager and virtual assistant, tried and true management methods aren’t always as effective. Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen in managing a VA.
Not supervising your virtual assistant’s performance
While most people would jump at the opportunity to work from home, there is a risk of productivity loss. This is no different with a virtual assistant. Therefore, it’s crucial that you set a clear framework for measuring their performance, ensuring they’re on track with their tasks.
Scheduling daily check-ins, weekly one-to-ones and quarterly reviews is a great way to maintain consistent communication and, if necessary, identify opportunities for further training or support. Regular contact also gives your virtual assistant a chance to talk through any concerns or problems they may have so they can be addressed as early as possible.
However, it is also important not to micromanage – most often, VAs are experienced PAs or EAs looking for more flexibility, so they know what they are doing!
Not providing an accurate job description
Many companies hire virtual assistants for support with a broad range of duties. By providing a detailed job description, your virtual assistant will have a firm grasp of their responsibilities, enabling them to be proactive. It will also ensure they are able to manage their time effectively.
Be sure to update the job description as the VA’s role evolves, detailing the main responsibilities and skills required. Your virtual assistant will then have a clear understanding of your expectations and be able to anticipate your needs ahead of time.
Not offering thorough training
While a training period is the foundation of most on-boarding processes for in-house staff, it can be easy to forget the importance of this in a remote work relationship. By providing structured training for your virtual assistant, you’ll save both yourself and your assistant a lot of time in the long term.
Providing an overview of your business and ensuring they are comfortable with the software, databases and communication systems your company uses will boost their confidence and encourage success in the role.
Not communicating effectively
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when working with a VA is not communicating clearly. Good communication is the foundation of every working relationship, but is especially important when collaborating with a remote worker.
There is a limit to what can easily be communicated via email and text, so scheduling calls and video chats on a regular basis will help you both to work through complex tasks more efficiently. Consider implemented shared task calendars as well – this will ensure that both parties are on the same page.
It’s also essential to be clear about your expectations and priorities. If something needs to be done today, make sure you tell your virtual assistant!
Not respecting your VA’s work-life balance
In some cases, a virtual assistant may not work regular office hours. With no commute, they may start earlier in the day, or work beyond the normal end of day. However, this doesn’t mean that they are available 24/7.
It’s important to manage your expectations of how quickly your virtual assistant responds to your emails and calls, especially if they do not have fixed working hours. Regular, scheduled contact and an up-to-date job description should minimise the risk of miscommunication. By respecting your VA’s other commitments and working with them rather than against them, you’re sure to get the best from them.
Looking to hire a virtual assistant? Tiger Virtual can help. Contact us today.