So you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant. Well, congratulations. You are one of the many business owners and professionals who fully understand the importance of delegating tasks.
Now, you can focus on your core, income-generating functions and leave all of the repetitive work to your VA.
But wait. You need some planning in advance in order to totally leverage your virtual assistant’s time and talents. Simplifying tasks through tools, templates and systems are some of the ways to smoothly transition to working with a virtual admin assistant and enable them to succeed.
Here are some pointers on how professionals like you can work best with your chosen outsourced staff.
#1. Establish your kind of workflow
Since you will be meeting with your assistant virtually, the first thing to consider is your online availability. Discuss with your virtual assistant as to when you want to be online and available so you can reach them when you need them the most.
- Do you expect him or her to be available at certain hours of the day, everyday?
- Or can they mostly work on longer tasks and just give weekly updates?
Give a potential task list. Go through the list again after you’ve hired them.
Ask them to send you a daily (or weekly or monthly, depending on the number of hours you’ve booked) task report and the time they spent doing each task.
#2. Make communication a priority
Give your contact information and tell your virtual personal assistant how you prefer to be reached. It can be by phone or IM, email, Skype, or whatever communication you prefer.
Once you have a good workflow going with your online employee, and you’re confident they understand your needs, you can have less detailed instructions and throw in faster communication methods into your workflow.
“When Dorie and I started working together, for the first week or two, we would check in by phone each day to go over assignments. Feeling comfortable on the phone with Dorie meant I could more readily suggest time-saving systems or flag potential issues. – Sue Williams
For longer project-like tasks, written instructions are better in terms of reference.
#3. Try different tasks in the beginning
Gauge your assistant’s strengths and weaknesses by trying different tasks. You may find that he or she can accomplish more than you expected. If that’s the case, you may assign higher level tasks that require some thinking, and choose to hire a lower cost one to do data entry or admin work.
Virtual personal assistants can basically do any repetitive task but there are also tasks that they specialize in like blogging, SEO, or web design. Make sure you clarify the different skill sets that you require before choosing which VA to hire.
#4. Share your expectations
Knowing your virtual office assistant’s hours each week can help keep you both focused, and it also establishes expectations in terms of contact times.
“Dorie always knew when I’d be available to have a quick phone conversation or to complete tasks that arrived out of the blue. Shared expectations are also helpful in terms of overall goals and priorities. A skilled assistant will be smart about prioritizing, but it helps if you communicate your vision explicitly.”If you have an overall goal, sharing this to your VA can help her prioritize accordingly. – Sue Williams Click To Tweet
#5. Create shared records
At the start of your working relationship, it pays to create shared records. Keeping all your passwords and log in details in a shared Google Drive spreadsheet or Dropbox folder can save time and stress.
Your virtual executive assistant can also store new passwords in the same document when they open new accounts. A shared, ongoing project list is a good idea, providing a spot where updates and feedback can be gathered for reference.
As the project advances, you can indicate what tasks need to be done, and the deadline for each, and he or she can note the ones that have been completed or are in process.
#6. Give very detailed instructions or create a system
Make it a point to give instructions that contain step-by-step explanations. One of our clients here at Virtual Assistant Talent developed an “assistant’s manual” prior to his virtual employee starting the job.
He wrote down a step-by-step guide for the most common tasks he needed done and he put all the relevant information, such as social media logins and website passwords.
You can also instruct your remote worker to write up the procedure and include it in the manual, so that it could become an ongoing reference tool for both of you. Show an example of the finished task if possible. Or give them an example to follow.
Making templates is good too. The goal is to enable an easy transition and avoid having to reinvent the wheel when there’s been a long gap in between performing a particular task.
#7. Ask the VA to verify that he or she understands the task
Asking for a confirmation that your online worker understands your instructions up-front lessens the chances of wasting the time you’ve paid for doing the wrong thing.
Make sure he or she acknowledges and understands the task before they start working on it.
You can ask one of these:
- Explain the task back to you
- How long the task will take in estimate
- If there’s anything unclear at all or if he/she has any questions
#8. Roll in about 10-20% on the task
If you expect a task to take 10-20 hours, ask them to come back after 1-2 hours with their progress. This will allow you to:
- Check their work to make sure they are on the same page with you
- Update instructions if needed, or
- Cancel the task if it turns out to be a bad idea
#9. Allocate more time for the task
If you can do the task in an hour, expect your remote employee to take 2-3 hours.
At the start, when you are just getting used to each other, it might take 3-4 hours. But once you’ve gotten into a good working relationship, it may only take the 1-2 hours depending on the task.
But regardless, they will never be as fast as you. Don’t expect miracles. Even if you hired locally, the smartest college student you pay minimum wage won’t be able to complete your tasks to your specs at your speed.
The benefits of outsourcing come once you’ve found the right remote worker to do the tasks you assign. Keep the long-term benefits in mind, and don’t ever give up after the first few tasks.
If you stick it out, you’ll see significant cost savings over the next 10,000+ hours. Take our tips for working effectively with your VA and don’t forget to share!
And for those who are having second thoughts about outsourcing, take it from jennyblake.me:
“For those of you considering hiring a virtual assistant, I cannot recommend it highly enough — this is easily one of the best things I did for my life and business.” – Jenny Blake