Bridge the Gap with Your Virtual Team – Part 1

I recently read a fantastic article on HubSpot about the 7 Deadly Disadvantages of Working from Home. I was drawn to this article because it so perfectly encapsulated some of the concerns that my clients have when they are considering working with a Filipino Virtual Assistant. So I thought I would create a series of articles that elaborate upon each of the 7 ‘Deadly Disadvantages’ of remote work (and their solutions!) from the perspective of a client engaging with a VA.

The first of this series covers one of the top perceived disadvantages of working with an offshore Virtual Assistant:

A lack of community and differences in culture

When you’re working with someone based in another country it’s more than likely that you’ll never meet with them face to face. All of your communication will be managed through various technologies like email, IM and video chat.

The concern is that this physical disconnect makes it hard to build a tight knit team and hinders collaboration. And this can be true, if you don’t adapt your work practices to suit.

[Tweet “When you’re working with an offshore VA, make sure that they understand your company’s values.”] Send them your company’s mission statement, ask them to make themselves familiar with your website and above all, communicate with your VA. There is no community without communication.

Key Tips:

  • Set regular online skype meetings (this helps keep your VA and yourself accountable AND helps build camaraderie)
  • Create an online hub where ideas and instructions can be shared (Basecamp is great for this and project management) 
  • Be personable, ask about your VA’s life outside of work, fostering a friendly relationship with your VA will encourage trustworthiness and honesty. More on this

Another key concern of clients considering working with an offshore Virtual Assistant are the differences in cultural expectations that could affect work ethic and create confusion in communications.

I can speak from experience after building my own business using Filipino VA’s that cultural differences between my team and I have only ever been a positive feature of our working relationship and if anything, has helped, rather than hindered my business. Learn more about why I choose the Philippines for my outsourcing.VA’s from the Philippines have many advantages over other countries, one of the top reasons for this is their reputation as dedicated professionals with a strong work ethic AND their fluency in the English language due to American colonial influence in the country’s education system.

Key Tips:

  • Educate yourself on the country you’re hiring from. In many cultures it is common for workers to be agreeable with managerial staff, rather than speak up and voice different views. This can create frustration for a business owner if you’re not aware of this cultural trait.
  • [Tweet “Keep an open mind. Working with people from other nations and cultures expands your perspective.”] Be realistic and compassionate to differences in culture and that will be reciprocated by your VA, creating understanding and fellowship.
  • Be tolerant of misunderstandings. Miscommunication is a two way street and occurs in business all the time. Be tolerant and take the time to explain your requirements – being as specific as possible!

Next week we delve into the difficulties communicating with a remote worker and what to do about it!




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