A question I often get asked by a perspective client is how the VA thing really works. They’re just not sure how to outsource bits of admin, or that project that needs managing, or those important updates that still haven’t made it on to the website. How is it fluid, time efficient, and managed?
For that reason some businesses feel they need to work with an assistant who can visit their premises from time-to-time, or even work on-site.
I agree this may be necessary if your business has high confidentiality regulations (although that being the case may mean you actually need an employee rather than a VA) but for the majority of businesses it’s often just because you’re not used to working with a remote team.
So by physically seeing them sitting at a desk gives you peace of mind that the work is being carried out.
Not strictly true!
I’m sure there’s plenty of people like me who have been an employee at one stage or other and will agree that they work a hundred times harder and more efficiently for their own business clients, than they ever did as a ‘standard’ employee.
So a physical presence doesn’t necessarily mean the job gets down any quicker or better.
If you’re reading this article you’re likely in need of some business support. Support for just one or a variety of tasks that will help you move forward and achieve some business growth. But are you still unsure and thinking:
- How do I get updated on each task or project status?
- How do I give any specific training that may be needed for the task?
- How do I know when they’re actually working?
- And if the hours billed are actually the hours they worked?
- How do I know when I can check in with them by giving them a call or jumping on video conference to chat?
So let’s tackle each of these questions separately:
1. How do I stay updated on the task / project status?
This is an easy one. There are so many different online project manager software options available for any budget. Download the software, share it with the Virtual Assistant, create deadlines, add time tracking and monitor as often as you like. It couldn’t be simpler to make sure you both stay on top of the workload so there are no misunderstandings later down the line.
Top choices of free PM software:
Top choices of paid-for PM software:
2. How do I give any specific training that may be needed for the task?
In one word: Webinars. These are common place in today’s online world where many teams work in different offices, towns, cities and countries, and they are ideal for online training methods. You can easily stream video, audio, and run through presentations or training slides with your Virtual Assistant. There really is no need to feel that you aren’t able to provide all the information your VA will need in order to get the job done.
Top 5 packages software packages available:
3. How do I know when they’re actually working?
This was partly answered in Q1, but even if you don’t have project management software in place, there are free online time trackers that can easily be shared each working day. Agree with your Virtual Assistant up front that at the end of each day (week or month) they work, they’ll provide you with a time analysis outlining what they worked on and the time taken. This way you can easily stay on top of the workload and be comfortable with the time allocation for each task.
Time tracking software:
4. How do I know if the hours billed are actually the hours worked?
OK so this is a little trickier since none of these project management tools are foolproof. It really comes down to trust and the relationship you’ve built with your Virtual Assistant.
As I mentioned in a previous article Choosing the Right Virtual Assistant for your Business you’re likely to have found your VA through Linked In, a Business Forum, or a Virtual Assistant Forum where you can check their history, background and skillset. You’ll then no doubt have interviewed them in one way or another. You’ll also have checked out their website and perhaps read some testimonials from existing or past clients. All of that should already have helped you determine whether to trust them or not. And if you don’t, then don’t hire them. If you do, start slow and work from there.
5. How do I know when I can check in with my VA by giving them a call or jumping on video conference to chat?
Firstly, it’s always ok to give your Virtual Assistant a call. As is the nature of our job we have to stay organised and have a work schedule to ensure all client deadlines are met, but you don’t. If you need to discuss a task just pick up the phone, jump on Skype, or drop us an email. I don’t know many VAs that wouldn’t take the time to respond to a client. Having said that of course there are times where we might be involved in something a little more taxing and therefore not want to be disturbed. If this is the case, your Virtual Assistant is likely to have diverted her phone or gone offline. Leave a message and they will get straight back to you. A last suggestion is to schedule a regular call into your calendar. Easily orchestrated by your VA, and if the call isn’t needed that day, week, or month, then just cancel it, but at least it’s there if required.
In today’s world, there really are no reasons why you can’t work effectively with a Virtual Assistant regardless of where in the world they, or you, are based.
If you’re a growing business in need of cost effective support, a Virtual Assistant is the solution for you.
Audra Harrison says
Thanks for sharing this information! Hiring virtual assistants is very popular nowadays. One way of making sure that you are keeping track of your VA’s time and productivity online is through web-based time tracking tools. A lot of online contractors are using this tool to ensure efficient task handling.
Absolutely Audra. Time tracking tools are an essential part of a VA’s kit. Being transparent in our hours with the client, ensures they see value for money out of our services.