You may have heard of virtual assistants. Despite how commonly the job title is used, very few people know what a virtual assistant is or does. It might be something you should look into if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the administrative aspects of your business, if you know tax season would be infinitely easier if you kept better records throughout the day, only you don’t have the time to manage it, or if customer emails and interactions are taking up so much of your time you can’t get to the actual work that you need to be doing.
The following will explore a few things you need to understand about virtual assistants before you decide to hire one. Of course, assistants can help with an endless amount of things. In the hiring process, be sure to ask assistants or agencies what they might suggest, given what they know about your business. Some wonderful ideas for streamlining might be revealed to you.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
In a nutshell, a virtual assistant is an administrative assistant that supports your company remotely. You may have heard them called online secretaries (but don’t use this term unless they do, because it seems a bit dated) or online assistants. They do all the work a traditional secretary does but don’t require any space in your office or workshop.
Certain agencies allow you to hire a virtual assistant on an as-needed basis if you need help sometimes and not others. One of the biggest benefits of a virtual assistant is that they can drastically improve your customer response time—in today’s instantaneous-digital world, response time can make or break a business.
Get Clear on Responsibilities
No matter what position you’re hiring for, if it’s remote, you need to have a clear outline of the different responsibilities you expect. Virtual work isn’t like in-office work; you won’t be able to see your employee; you’ll only be able to check whether things were done or not done and how well.
Having clear responsibilities will help you and your future staff better agree on the virtual assistant cost upfront. It will also make everyone aware of what duties are theirs and which belong to someone else.
Make Communication a Priority
Similar to the above point, if an employee is working virtually, you want to be sure that you’ve set up clear lines of communication so that nothing gets lost in the inbox. Many people, when they first begin working with remote colleagues, try far too many forms of messaging—they’ll have a shared document that everyone updates, a snazzy app (or two), company email, phone numbers, zoom calls… etc.
Pick one or two methods of communication and stick with those. With too many places to check for messages or updates, everyone involved runs the risk of missing something important.
The above points should help steer you in the right direction when it comes to hiring a virtual assistant. It’s important to note that even if an employee is remote, you are still legally required to ensure that their working environment is safe and meets health standards. You may need to include training on the proper at-home office setup, among other things, to ensure you’ve done your due diligence.