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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