Have you ever considered that your personal assistant doesn’t actually need to be based in your office all the time, if at all?!
With the availability of apps on your mobile phone, tablet and laptop, a virtual assistant can now carry out most of the administrative tasks remotely. This flexible working arrangement can actually help streamline procedures, increasing efficiency. It is often neither time nor cost effective for a small business to employ an assistant 8 hours a day, and have them based in their office 5 days a week.
So how do you maintain clear lines of communication with a team in different locations? With modern technology and IT systems, our ability to stay in touch remotely is greatly enhanced. Apart from the obvious verbal methods (telephones have been in use since 1876), the following modes of communication are recommended:
Only use one form of communication. This keeps your message clear and prevents ambiguity between team members. I have found Slack a good messaging system if you need to talk to your VA about something and it requires a quick answer. Slack allows real time messaging, file sharing and has a searchable archive.
Schedule a weekly video call with your virtual assistant. In an office environment, we benefit from face to face verbal communication. When working remotely, we don’t have that luxury and it’s often more difficult to establish normal human interactions. Therefore, it’s vital that time is set aside for a weekly catch up call to discuss matters, set goals and targets and discuss progress.
I like to share information frequently with my clients, allowing them to correspond with me at any time, which reduces the risk of re-work, errors and creates a stronger working relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Project management applications like Trello and Asana make it easier, but it’s good practice to send a daily update. I always let my clients know when I’m working on a particular assignment and where appropriate, send a daily email with an update.
When working remotely, it’s imperative to keep everything organised and accessible. Cloud based storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive is useful for this, so that the team can access and exchange large files quickly and easily. If you use Gmail then it makes sense to use Google Drive and Google is also perfect for collaboration in real time. You can also protect your company’s data with security options like 2-step verification and single-sign-on, and use mobile management to keep your data safe in the case of a lost device or if a member of the team leaves.
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As we enter a new year, it is a time to reflect on the year just gone, and think ahead to what goals we have for 2018.
2017 was a bittersweet year. My sister was married at the end of May and with it came the excitement (and stress!) for her and other family members in planning her wedding. I was maid of honour and it was an incredibly joyous day that I’ll never forget. She was married at St John’s Church, Friern Barnet and the wedding breakfast was at Mill Hill School. The school is Grade II Listed, set in beautiful grounds and of historic interest.
It was also the year I ceased working as an employee as a Virtual Assistant and launched my business. Having been a business owner previously and having loved being my own boss, I knew it was something I could do, but I knew it wouldn’t be without challenges.
After several months gaining a couple of clients, networking and trying to increase my brand awareness, my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and after only a month passed away at the end of October. Having never lost a close family member, it was a huge shock and had a significant impact on any business development.
We are a very close family and I will miss him dearly. We are thankful that having reached 86 he was still leading an active life with many interests.
So what does the year ahead look like? I have started 2018 with renewed motivation, energy and excitement. This week I’ve been registering for several networking events and on Monday attended my local FSB meeting in Finchley, where I made several new contacts and left feeling focused, ready to grasp the nettle and move my business forward.
I became a Virtual Assistant in order to have more flexibility. I therefore wish to obtain a better work/life balance, which means spending more time with my 5 year old son, meeting new people and working from a café instead of being stuck at my desk. Planning my day is key and I am currently working through a marketing course, which will hopefully help me focus and allow me to have more structure.
Whatever your personal and business goals are, I would like to wish you every success and look forward to working with you in 2018.