Working with Virtual Assistants: 6 tips to get it right

Working with a virtual assistant to help out with your daily mundane business tasks is a great way to boost your productivity. You delegate your repetitive tasks that take up a lot of your time to them and, as a result, get to focus on your job and other important matters. It’s what a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses are doing. If you are spending too much time answering your emails or setting up appointments or looking for that one document from two months ago that you can’t seem to find, then you are not working towards your business objective. That is time that could be spent planning new growth strategies, meeting with a potential client, or designing that product. Simply put, working with virtual assistants makes your business life more comfortable.
But that said, there have been instances when someone hired a virtual assistant but then had to let them go because it just wasn’t working. It’s important to remember that a virtual assistant works for you remotely, possibly from another part of the world, so it’s not the same as having an assistant in your office premises. It requires efforts from both sides to make this arrangement work. There needs to be a system in place that should be followed earnestly. So if you are planning to hire a virtual assistant anytime soon or even already have one, we share with you some tips on how to effectively work with your virtual assistant.

Inform them of the work before you hire

This step occurs before you even begin working, but it needs attention. Before you hire a virtual assistant, ensure that they are well aware of the tasks that you expect them to, or a general idea of what would be expected of them. Hire a virtual assistant who is skilled and experienced at those tasks to avoid any future troubles. By communicating beforehand, they’d be prepared and come aboard the job with the right attitude and mindset, which matters immensely.

Set your expectations

Once you start working with your virtual assistant, give clear instructions. It’s vital, at least in the early months, to let them know about how you prefer your chores done. If necessary, provide them with a step by step guide for various tasks that they are expected to perform frequently, so there are no mistakes. Every person has their own way of doing things, so don’t assume that they’ll do everything how you like unless you tell them. Set up collaboration tools for files and note sharing such as dropbox, google drive, Trello, etc. that you can both access and edit. Inform them of any tasks that need to be given priority, so they go on about their job accordingly. A virtual assistant is there to help you with your job, but they can only do it if they know what to do when to do, and how you expect them to do. So give details as much as you can when working with a virtual assistant.

Communicate effectively

The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough while working with any remote employee, and it is just as important with your virtual assistant. Set up various methods of communication and discuss when you are available. Daily 20-30 minutes call with your VA helps to form a bond and set up a rapport with them. They should be comfortable with you and should be able to contact you when necessary. So set up channels for communicating with them, whether it is email, Skype calls, or instant messaging. This way, you can monitor them to ensure your work is being done on time and sort out any confusion or queries on their end. Communication with your virtual assistant should be carried out daily at least until they get the hang of their job, and you are confident in their ability to perform tasks for you without you checking up on them daily.

Provide feedback

When they start, provide as much feedback as you can to your virtual assistant. Review their work after they are done and share feedback. Let them know if they did anything wrong, or if you’d like them to incorporate some changes. It helps them to get to know your working style and then adapt quickly. Getting them acquainted with your methods early on is better for both you and them. At the same time, don’t hold back on praising them when they do a good job. Feedback includes both criticism and appreciation.

Give them the necessary information

A virtual assistant is expected to do a lot of jobs for you where they need access to some of your details such as account passwords, credit card numbers, and such. Share that information, and any other they might require in the course of their job, with them. It is a waste of time for both of you if they have to ping you every time they need some information to complete a task.

Ask them for suggestions

Getting across your points to them is essential, but it is just as important to listen to them. Don’t forget that they have done this before and have experience in this field. So listen to them when they have any insight to offer or ask them for suggestions yourself. They might have ways that could get the tasks done in less time with better quality and overall improve efficiency. Just because you had been doing something one way for a long time doesn’t mean there aren’t better ways of doing those same tasks.
Setting up a rhythm with your virtual assistant is crucial. Once you have a system, it’s usually smooth sailing from thereon. But you need to be patient and understanding in the early days. It takes time to get used to working with each other, so don’t expect miracles from the first day. Time and energy need to go into building a relationship with your virtual assistant; only then you can reap the long term benefits of having a virtual assistant helping you in your business life. So follow these tips, and hopefully, you’ll see improvements.