Tips: Working with a Virtual Assistant… from the viewpoint of a Virtual Assistant© kharlamova_lv – Fotolia.com
How many of you have a virtual assistant?
I don’t think many of you will have, because when I started out 18 months ago I had never even heard of virtual assistants. I fell into this job, utilising my experience and skills from the workplace and transferring them over to my own business. Obviously when I finally realised what I was I found lots of information online about virtual assistants, and now, well for me I feel as though we’re over-run with them, maybe because I have come across so many lovely VA’s on social media.
I’m not going to talk about the benefits of using a virtual assistant in this post, but if you’d like to check out my eBook here is the link: 3 Key Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant
When you’re working with a virtual assistant it’s very easy to come up against some issues which you wouldn’t necessarily find in the workplace. For example, you think of a task you want to delegate to the office administrator so you wander through to their office and pass on the task. You can’t do that with a VA, you have to physically write out an email or give them a quick call – it doesn’t take any longer than walking into another office, but I bet it feels like more work and that it would be easier just to do the task yourself.
But why employ a VA at all if you’re not going to delegate tasks so you can get on with more important things?
Here are some tips on how you can work effectively with a virtual assistant:
- Organisation – When you hire a VA, write down exactly what tasks you would like to delegate to them so when these tasks pop up you can easily delegate it without thinking. Eventually some regular tasks your VA will be able to keep track of without your input, which saves you even more time.
- Quirks – Everyone has different quirks in work and life, it might be useful when you get started to go over the necessary ones with your VA. Explain how you like things done, even if it’s something small, it will save extra explanation later on.
- Instructions and Deadlines – These are really important, any new task you want your VA to complete you need to provide clear, concise instructions and the deadline. A VA will have other clients to deal with, so having deadlines means they are able to prioritise their work and get things back to you when you require them, rather than them second guessing when you need it done by.
- Communication – At the beginning of your working relationship with your VA ensure you agree on the forms of communication you’ll use. If it’s mainly via email, a small tip would be to send all instructions in 1 email rather than 10! Your VA could well become overwhelmed with the amount of email they are receiving with every little task, and times that by say 6 clients and you can easily see how this isn’t effective communication. Make sure when communicating that you have given clear expectations, specific instructions and you respond to any enquiries from your VA in a timely way.
- Slow Down – Don’t run before you can walk. When you first start working with a VA it may take some time before you are in a regular routine and they are knowledgeable about your procedures and tasks. As in any new job it takes time to learn new things. Don’t expect your VA to know everything at the start.
- Be Aware of Time – Many VA’s work office hours, so when you send over an urgent email ensure you’ve thought about what the time is and whether your VA will be able to take care of it right that second. You also have to consider time zones, your VA could be sleeping so won’t receive your email until a few hours after you’ve sent it.
I work with a handful of clients providing them with virtual assistance and each one is very different. I have some which are not willing to let go of things and don’t email me often with tasks, I am forever chasing them up to see if they have anything for me to do. Other clients email me everyday, sometimes more than once (see point 4). Each client is different, they have their quirks, their different ways of working which means a VA has to adapt to many situations.
Above all, be nice to your VA and I am sure you will have a very successful working relationship!
Some of the articles I referred to for this post: