As a Virtual Assistant (VA), we receive regular training and guidance on how to work remotely and how to work with clients that we don’t see day to day, if ever. There is quite a difference in how we work as opposed to a member of staff located in your office.
The most important aspect of working virtually is communication. Good and regular communication with your employer is key to ensure a good working relationship and to manage expectations.
Whilst it is vitally important that VAs fully understand how to work in the virtual world, it is also important that their clients know how best to work with their VA. The world of Virtual Assistants is relatively new. Many new clients who take on a VA for the very first time are not experienced in this new working relationship.
Here are some tips for clients wanting to get the most out of their Virtual Assistant.
- Have an introductory call with your VA via phone or even better Skype so that you can get to know each other ‘in person’ before you start working together. Going forward it is likely that you will communicate mainly electronically via email, WhatsApp etc. but talking initially is an ice breaker and helps both parties feel at ease with each other.
- Discuss and decide early on what will be your main method of communication. Email is the most common means of business communication but if you prefer to use other communication tools such as Slack or WhatsApp then discuss this with your VA so that they can download any new apps or tools that they need.
- Identify all online tools and packages that you will need your Virtual Assistant to use so that they can download anything they don’t already have and establish if any training is needed. Remember that VA’s are flexible, experienced in using a range of tools and can train themselves online if necessary. Just ensure you set out your expectations early to allow time for them to familiarise themselves with tools ahead of being immersed in the work.
- Send your VA an outline of your expectations and a list of relevant work and responsibilities they are going to be working on.
- Establish your VA’s daily availability and your expectations regarding availability. If you are paying for a certain number of hours of work a day, your assistant will only be able to work for this set amount of time. If you have a large project coming up and are going to need extra support, inform your VA as soon as possible and discuss their availability and the additional cost of them carrying out extra hours of work for you.
- If your VA is based in another country, then they are likely to have different public holidays. Ask them to brief you on when they will be unavailable to work due to public holidays so that you can both plan accordingly. And also brief them when your public holidays are and what you expect to happen on those days.
- It is a good idea to have weekly meetings with your VA so you can both stay up to date about work progress, upcoming requirements and to discuss any issues that may arise. Including your VA in team meetings via a Skype/conference call helps them feel included and part of the team which is likely to help motivation.
- Ask you VA for a weekly email update with a summary of the week’s work and progress with any projects they are working on.
- Communicate regularly. Check in with your VA daily if possible even if it is a cursory email or message. Keep your assistant informed of your whereabouts (holidays etc).
Remember each client/VA working relationship is different and all have different requirements. The underlying theme is that good communication is key to get the most out of your Virtual Assistant.