As an entrepreneurial business owner, you have made the wise and economical choice of hiring a qualified remote assistant. If you’ve made the right hire, your VA is committed to your success and matches your ambition and drive. They are responsive, proactive, and ready for what it takes to help you accomplish your growth goals.
All of that said, the fact remains your virtual assistant does differ from a traditional assistant by nature of the fact that they work remotely. Here are some points to keep in mind when working with your VA.
This means they are hustling between multiple demands and schedules at one time. They are in a constant state of prioritization and re-prioritization. While all executive assistants are masters of this skill, the remote factor adds another layer. Your VA is not sitting next to you or down the hall. You can’t swing by their desk and say, drop everything, I need this STAT. A good virtual assistant will be relatively quick with responses, but please remember that they may be amid an unrelated task when you ping them, email, call, or SMS. Be patient – they will be back to you very shortly.
They are managing the preferences of many clients at once, and experience a frequent changing of the guard, from one minute to the next. Because your VA is not solely working for one client, the ongoing gear switching can mean they need your help from time to time to help them re-acclimate to the task or process you talked about – particularly if a long period of time has gone by since the original instruction was given. Even with notes, sometimes a refresher on a process is helpful to both of you.
It is very helpful to your VA, when feasible, to let them know how much time they have for a given task. In your mind, you may not need a project completed for a few days from now, but when a VA sees a task come in, they presume it requires prompt attention. Just like a VA is doing the professional equivalent of 5-second costume changes, they are repeatedly prioritizing and fitting work into every nook and cranny of time. Any information you can provide about when something should be completed is like gold. Managing deliverables gives your VA the chance to create blocks in their project management.
Even though your VA understands that they are working within your scheduled workday, use the same consideration you would for an in-person assistant. Chances are you would not send a time-sensitive or time-consuming task out at 4:58 when the workday ends at 5 and expect your assistant to stay late without notice. Sure, this happens in many industries. But just as challenging as it is for an assistant on-site when that occurs, the same rings true for your VA. The added consideration of the fact that if it’s 4:58PM for you, it might be almost midnight for your VA. Think – do you really want to send a time-sensitive detailed task to someone whose eyes might be about to fall out at midnight? Most VAs have already clocked a full day before they hit the ground running for your 8 or 9AM. Just something to consider. Most VAs are awake from early morning until late, late at night.
As much as it signals an extreme level of trust and confidence when you send an email without any instruction, or fly out a one-liner, sometimes, this can be more time-consuming in the long run. Your VA, particularly if you’ve been working together for a while, probably can figure out what you mean but if you take a little more time to give a few more clues, it can save the back and forth of clarifying questions. Similarly, stay consistent with processes and if you change things up to try something new in your mind, be sure to communicate that change to your VA and make sure they really understand the new protocol.
VAs rely exclusively on connectivity. We’ve all experienced being in an office environment when the network or servers go down, or when a city experiences an area-wide blackout or brownout. Your remote assistant is just as subject to this type of dilemma. When they’re lucky, they get forewarning that power will be out for X amount of time on a given day and can warn you in advance. But just like that transformer that suddenly blew out everything from 5th to 8th Avenue, systems can go down for your VA without warning. Be patient. Your VA will do everything in their power to communicate with you. Trust your VA. If they were mid-communication or mid-task and suddenly ghosted, they are probably sitting in the dark.
Other issues and workarounds may need to be addressed regarding compatibility, servers, Dropbox, etc. So keep in mind you may need to carve out some time with your VA to help build a solution together.
Many VAs work from home and are working at night, when their households are very active with noisy children. Not the best environment for making sensitive client calls. Work with your VA to tailor calling times that work for them to be able to be on the phone in a quieter environment. For some, it’s not a concern because they may have dedicated space in their home as an office, far away from the melee of mud pies being baked in the kitchen. For others, they have limited space and little Henry just started his 7PM pots and pans drum set concert. But Henry is going to bed soon, so setting an 8PM call-out time may be a wiser choice.
Just like everyone, a VA is entitled to breaks and lunch hour (in this case, it may be dinner hour). Your VA should try to give you a sense of when those breaks will be, if they can know in advance. Just as they are juggling an array of clients and tasks, they are also factoring in family duties, if they work from home during their night time. Your VA should also communicate when they will be out of the office as PTO for a large block of your work day.
While it may seem that you have a lot of back and forth emails and texts with your VA, it really is not so much in the scheme of things. Think back to when you worked in a standard office. How many times a day did you ring up your executive and administrative assistants; send an email; run by their desk; hold meetings; dictate minutes? When you reflect on that volume of communication, you will not feel like there is too much back and forth with your VA. In fact, you may be even more efficient working this way than you were when your assistant was just outside your office door!
Your VA misses them, too.
Submitted by Darcie