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Smarter Office Blog

What to Do with Your Virtual Assistants: Tips on Working with Them

How You Should Work with Your Virtual Assistant 

Once you've hired a virtual assistant, you may think that your work is done. Actually, that’s just the first step. Now, it’s time to ensure that you and your virtual assistant are on the same page. This means setting up some ground rules for working with the assistant.

For the most part, a virtual assistant will work remotely and not be a subject matter expert on the industry. They can learn some general knowledge about your business, but they’ll never be an industry expert. Also, virtual assistants may be located anywhere in the world, which can be tricky with time zones and work hours.

Working with the Virtual Assistant

Here are some tips to ensure that your working relationship with a virtual assistant is a successful one.

1.  Establish working hours: As mentioned, a virtual assistant may be on a different time zone or even in a different country. Establish the hours that the virtual assistant is expected to be available. For some work, the virtual assistant may just need a deadline. If a business requires assistants to answer phones, however, they will need to be available during business hours.

2.  Set up how communication will work: A virtual assistant is not seated within your office so you'll need to establish how you will communicate with each other: email, chat, video chat, phones, etc. Have a contingency plan if one of the communication methods fails.

3.  Figure out the assistant’s capabilities: Determine your virtual assistant’s strengths and weaknesses early in the process. Always provide adequate instructions on how tasks need to be done, and double-check their work in the beginning. As virtual assistants prove themselves, this step may not be needed further down the road.

4.  Provide solid deadlines: Virtual assistants work at their own pace and sometimes even set their own hours. Give a deadline to the assistant and always allot more time than is necessary to get the work done. While an in-house assistant may be able to get the work done within a few hours, a virtual assistant may need a 24-hour turnaround time. Usually, they have other clients. While they are dedicated to each client, they may run into unavoidable conflicts.

5.  It’s worth the investment: It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it will be 'easier,' or 'faster' just to do the work in-house. The problem is that while you may be able to get the work done faster one day, you may get bogged down the next and run out of time to finish. Virtual assistants save both time and money in the long-run.

Just like working with a new employee, a virtual assistant needs to understand how the business professional works and vice versa. While the first few days or week maybe rough, a virtual assistant will be a great investment for businesses.