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.
In this article we address a very common concern for business owners working with a remote Virtual Assistant:
Loss of Productivity
It’s a very understandable anxiety for business owners forking out their hard earned cash to a contractor who isn’t physically present in the office. Working from home or away from the central work hub can present a lot of distractions. So how can you monitor your Virtual Assistant and ensure that they are being productive and efficient in your absence?
Be firm with your expectations
This means, being firm with when you require your Virtual Assistant to be online and available and setting deadlines for work due. Be as clear and concise as you can when handing over processes to your VA so there are no misunderstandings or lack of attention to work. Make sure that you also keep yourself accountable and be available to review completed work. Remember – when dealing with your VA, don’t be afraid to over-communicate your needs especially in the beginning.
At Virtual Elves we use an online, cloud based time tracking program called Hubstaff. This nifty piece of software allows managers working with remote and freelance employees to know exactly how much time and money they have spent on each task and what was on their monitors at that time. You will know for certain that you are paying for actual work, not for time spent surfing the web. This type of software provides peace of mind for business owners and keeps your remote workers accountable.
Sharing is Caring
We harp on about this alot, but the fact of the matter is, if you want to work successfully with a Virtual Assistant and take advantage of all the wonderful benefits a VA can provide for your business then you need to get your head around online, cloud based software. It is crucial that you make important working documents sharable and accessible at any time of the day. Software such as Dropbox and Google Drive allow remote teams to easily share and update documents, and have the added benefit of being accessible on mobile devices. It’s so satisfying being able to open up a google doc and proof it while you’re waiting in line for a coffee – the epitome of productivity!
Be understanding of time differences
Even in countries that are close to each other like Australia and the Philippines (were all my VA’s are from) there can still be a lag of up to 3 hours – and much more when you’re talking about Virtual Assistants from Europe, India or China.
Set times during the week where your VA knows they have to be online for you, that way you can ask questions, give feedback and get an immediate response.
It helps to keep in mind that being a Virtual Assistant is a serious career move for men and women living outside of Australia. I have found in my own experience that most of the people I work with are professional and experienced in working remotely from home offices, each with their own methods on how to remain focused and productive at work. If you would like more advice on how to manage a Virtual Assistant and keep productivity levels high contact me here
Our final article in the ‘Bridging the Gap’ series tackles the sensitive issue of security and how to protect your data when working with a remote team.
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