Lo and Behold! The Virtual Assistants is Here
Virtual assistants or VAs are no more a thing of remote imagination. A lot many people who are successful or paving their way to success are operating smoothly through VAs. So, there are a lot many people who do know about them, and are managing work quite well with them. But well, there are also those who do not know what exactly these virtual assistants do and what they can actually help one with.
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So, What are Virtual Assistants You Say?
The term, my friend, is more than self explanatory. These are assistants that can provide you with total support in your work remotely. The list of the services they provide is endless for they can assist you in any work that doesn’t require them to be physically present at your office.
Basically, they are not your employees but they still work for you. Isn’t that great? They are self-employed professionals that specialize in certain technical, creative, administrative or clerical areas. And, these areas can be as varied as you can think of. So, they work for you remotely; from their own office, or from their couch, (or from their bed; it doesn’t really matter) whichever corner of the world that may be in.
But what’s the point? Can’t you just employ full-time staff?
The point is that you save a world of employee-related tax and obligation, insurance benefits, gratuities and all that jazz. The only expense you make is in the form of the VA’s fees (including the indirect expenses). The work is assessed online and the client pays for what they get. Even better news is that there are multi-VA firms that can assist you in multiple jobs.
If you ask for my opinion, I think that hiring virtual assistants works much better than hiring full-time employees who have a strong tendency of job-hopping. I am a growth hacker myself, and I rely considerably on virtual assistants for managing a lot of my stuff. And well, this is also how I escape from the grind of a 9-5 job.
But yes, certain time and effort will go into training your Virtual assistants, about which we shall discuss shortly.
1. Adding a Virtual Assistants to Your Workforce
So, how do you find a VA? The easiest way – there are websites, businesses, firms that deal exclusively in VA services. Medical, legal, secretarial, administrative, technical, marketing – just name it, and you are likely to find one that is fit for doing your job. But hey, you can also pick up from freelancers that you may have been working with in the past. This will free you from the fear of not getting quality work.
Nevertheless, here is where you will have to do some planning. The biggest mistake that you are most likely to commit here is that of miscommunication, which, in turn, can lead to goof-ups. Also, you need to chalk out if there is a need for different VA’s to communicate among themselves.
If the work demands that, you must give them a common platform to do so. And, here is where platforms like Skype, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., will come in handy. Believe me, you will not feel like they are situated remotely. If you fail in making that coordination possible, the result may be either incongruous or duplicate work.
How to Establish Communication the Right Way?
This is the part on which the entire concept of virtual assistance depends. Improper communication will ensure that the entire system falls apart. So, the key to efficient VA arrangement is effective communication.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be just phone calls as the case would have been 30 years ago. What you have at your disposal is the almighty Internet, and that is what you must make ample use of.
So, setting up a virtual workspace is imperative for communicating effectively with your Virtual assistants. No matter what kind of business you are in, all you need is a computer, or a smart phone, a stable Internet connection, a set of earphones and microphone, and there you go – all set for communicating in the most effective manner for virtual assistance.
Here are the three ways through which you can make your virtual assistance communication network:
This is one of the most basic yet one of the most formally documented way of communication. It is best for assigning and submission of work as well as documents because of its durability.
I recommend that you set up an entirely different email id for all communication related to work. Communication on your personal id may at times cause confusion for your own self. So, making a separate official email id is the ideal thing. And, here is what you do next:
- Label the emails appropriately, for e.g. Instructions, Feedback, Corrections, etc.
- Follow a particular pattern for naming files – one that should be understood by both the parties. For e.g. – ANALYSIS REPORT_241016_RAFI CHOWDHURY
- If it works for you, do mention the day and date in the email. That makes easy reference.
No matter how well-documented your emails are, chats will always be your backup. Yes, email can, at times, become a slow mode of communication. So it is important that you have a mode of real-time communication. To be honest, real-time communication is the essence of virtual work environment.
- One thing – always have an efficient chat client that is easy to access and use both by you and your VA.
- Second thing – always have a back-up chat client, just in case.
- A handy tip – make a list before you go on to discuss things on chat. Most of us have the tendency to lose track of other important things while we discuss one. So when you have that list, you can make the most of that chat.
- Skype works very well for me with voice chat, web cam chat and more features like screen sharing. It is reliable and easy to use as well.
Using Voice and Web Cam Chat
Phone calling is often not an option when it comes to virtual assistance. So, keeping that respect for privacy, voice chat is an option that you must keep. When things are not explicable on text chat, you will surely feel the need for a voice chat. Also web cam chat comes in pretty handy at times depending on the nature of the job.
Here are some of the things that you must keep in mind to make this sort of communication effective.
- Make sure that the VA is equipped with the mode that is needed for VoIP.
- Allow your VA to make calls directly whenever he or she wants to. This will help them clear doubts and queries as they arise, thus keeping miscommunication and misunderstanding at bay.
- A very good way to take a perfect round-up of all that has been discussed during the conversation is to ask your VA for a summarized transcript of the chat that you just had.
Given the juncture we are at, as far as technology goes, there is hardly any additional cost that goes into setting such kind of communication.
Get, Set, Go! Oh Wait! Training First
Yes, it goes without saying that you will have to train your VAs before you are all ready to go. Even if you hire an aptly experienced professional as your VA, you will still have to acquaint them to your working style, especially in case you use a technique or a tool that they are not familiar with.
So, I believe that a certain amount of training is a must.
Here is a model of training and teaching that works wonders. It is called the TIM model or the Technology Integration Method. This is a model that teachers use technology to improve the learning process of the K-12 students (students from kindergarten, 1st through 12th grade). But, I find it to be quite instrumental in understanding how with the use of technology you can train someone more efficiently than ever.
So, what we’ll do here is briefly learn what this model is about. It is divided into stages that are as follow:
I. The Entry Level
So, this is the first level where you deliver the curriculum to the learner. In other words you tell what is to be done and how. An example is taken and the drill-and-practice approach is followed. The learner will simply see how things are done but no access to the technology is given yet.
II. The Adoption Level
Here you take a call as to which tool you shall adopt for what exercise. So, at a time your VA gets exposure to just one type of tool that involves step by step understanding.
III. The Adaptation Level
Here you will incorporate the tool or that technology as the integral part of the task that you assign to the VA. While you still make the decision about which tool needs to be used, you do give the Virtual assistants your guidance in using it independently. This level is a notch above the Adoption level because the level of familiarity and understanding that the learner gains is much higher.
This practice gives them the confidence to work without constant procedural instruction.
IV. The Infusion Level
At this point you introduce and blend a range of tools and technology into your instruction and exercise. The technology is available to the VAs is in the magnitude that is required by them. This is the level where they have gained the ability to make informed decisions regarding what tool is to be used in which situation. So, this is a particularly experienced stage, though you still continue guiding on a broad level.
V. The Transformation Level
At this level your VA will have attained the ability to use the methodology for tools and technology in a flexible manner. The outcomes are very much as desired, and the learner displays a conceptual understanding as well as good skill in practical usage of a tool or a technique. Now is the time when the VAs must be encouraged to use it in their own innovative way in order to deliver best outcomes.
You are now there to guide them if they go wrong, or if they face a bottleneck situation.
VI. The Active Level
Here you must make a distinction between the tasks that need your Virtual assistants to be passive and those which give them a chance to use the technology that they have learned and do more. This step makes your Virtual assistants actively engaged and able to deliver results.
VAs – The Key to Automating Any Kind of Business
I say a lot of good things about my VAs and VAs in general. But that is not because I am a growth hacker and so my work can be done through virtual assistance. The truth is that it has the potential to automate any kind of business, and I too have immensely benefitted from it. Whether you are a marketer, a corporate person, a store owner, a manufacturer, or any kind of entrepreneur under the sun, virtual assistance can make things easier, more professional and specialized.
Suppose you are a into logistics, there is all possibility to make your business automated with specialized services from a score of VAs – a developer who makes your website and business process digitized; an accountant who manages all the inflow, outflow, cash and credit; an administrator who makes sure that the processes are moving smoothly. You actually do not have to do it yourself, because for an entrepreneur, it is impossible to juggle with all these things and still be successful.
So, a reliable virtual assistants or a team can be the best answer to your struggles.
And yes, it leaves you with the much needed time for your personal life.
It doesn’t Cost You a Fortune
Right! You read it absolutely right.
Hiring a Virtual assistant or even a team is much cheaper than hiring full-time employees. Full-timers with expertise are, first, hard to find; second too much to afford on a monthly basis. The great thing about VAs is that you can find them with firms that specialize in such services, and you can pay them as per convenience – hourly, weekly, monthly, per project. Plus, as stated before you are exempted from paying insurance, benefits and expenses like those.
Really, it is that simple!
As for the cost that goes in setting up a virtual workplace is minimal. All you need is computer or a smart phone, which you, most probably, already have, and a stable internet connection. If you need some special technology that aids in your communication and business, that would be an investment that you need to make. But chances are that you have all this whether or not you are looking forward to virtual assistance.
There is more to life than just getting ground in the gyres of 9-5 work clock. Believe me when I say this, Virtual Assistant can help you there.