Does it ever seem like no matter how much time you spend working, your workload never decreases? Even after hours on the job each day you still have files piled on your desk and emails that haven’t been replied to.
As is the case with many remote workers, it can be difficult to follow up on new business opportunities or meet deadlines because you are overwhelmed with less important tasks. It’s not impossible to do all the minute tasks yourself. However, with the pressures of work and the often mounting list of undone responsibilities, can outsourcing labour be a good idea for you?
Hiring a remote virtual assistant is one of the best ways to keep your own remote work moving smoothly.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is an administrative professional that provides help to an individual or business by remotely managing administrative tasks. For example, a VA may schedule meetings and business events, answer emails, work with customers, and other tasks that fall under administration.
An assistant may even be used to handle personal matters such as scheduling vacations, ordering supplies for your home, and making doctor’s appointments. A VA that works for a company is unlikely to complete personal tasks, but if you are hiring an assistant for yourself, you’ll have more freedom to determine what their job description includes.
The point of hiring someone to help with these smaller tasks is to free yourself to focus on the work that is time-sensitive or requires technical skills. Imagine how much free time you would have if you didn’t need to answer non-essential emails or draft memos for hours each day. You can also hire a remote virtual assistant to help you find more remote work or help you run your own business. Since some remote workers are freelancers, you may assign tasks such as submitting proposals and hunting for new clients to your VA.
Need help in an area you aren’t experienced in? Hire a VA with skills that you need and outsource those tasks to them. For instance, if you are not an expert in budget management and lease agreements, you may hire someone who has project management or real estate experience. This way, you can assign them to tasks that require knowledge you do not have rather than struggling to complete the work yourself.
Why You Need a Remote Virtual Assistant
Since you know the mechanics of working remotely, you likely already understand why someone hires a remote employee. Rather than needing to conduct in-person interviews and let someone into your personal space, hiring remotely allows you to keep all interactions in a digital space.
But, do you really need a virtual assistant? It may seem a little pretentious to assume that you need an assistant, especially if you believe that you just need a little more time and organisation. However, hiring an assistant isn’t just for celebrities or the wealthy. No matter what your job title or position, needing help and hiring someone to assist you is not only sensible, but advised.
If you still aren’t sure if your tasks require an assistant, here are a few reasons why you may need a virtual assistant.
Important tasks keep being overshadowed
After spending hours of your day working diligently, do you still find it challenging to reduce your workload? Most of your day may be spent focusing your attention on simple tasks that are essential, but time-consuming. That's where a virtual assistant can come in.
Rather than needing to spend time fulfilling orders, getting back to customers, drafting project proposals, and taking notes, you can outsource these tasks. In the beginning, you may want to review the tasks that your VA has completed to ensure that they are to your standard. However, as time goes on, both you and your assistant will get into a groove and they’ll be able to handle your tasks seamlessly.
Once you’ve established a steady system, you’ll be able to start and end your day knowing that the essential items on your to-do list have been covered.
You have too many backed up emails
It may seem silly to hire a virtual assistant to clean up your inbox. And yet, as we speak, there are likely hundreds of thousands of virtual assistants doing exactly that for their bosses. If you have hundreds, or even thousands, of emails that have not been answered or even opened, you may need to hire a VA.
It can be quite daunting having to sift through thousands of emails to decide what is essential and needs an urgent response, and what can be sent to the trash. Whether these are work or personal emails, taking the time to look through them may be hours of your day that you can’t spare. Rather than digging into the emails yourself, you can let your VA do the heavy lifting for you.
And, it’s not just replying to emails and trashing the ones that you don’t need. A virtual assistant can organise your emails into categories, unsubscribe you from services that you no longer need, alert you when something urgent comes in, and so much more. You may even want them to tell you when your favourite store is having a sale or a new version of a work software has been released. If emails are a huge headache in your life, hiring a VA for even this seemingly meaningless task can be incredibly helpful.
Too busy to remember your calendar
When you have a lot on your plate, it isn’t unheard of to miss a few meetings or deadlines. Do you often find that you’ve forgotten an important meeting or gotten a key date wrong? You may find yourself making excuses like “I’m super busy lately, I’m so sorry!” and “Can we reschedule? I’ve double booked myself today”.
Your employer, clients, co-workers, and customers are the ones that suffer when you are unable to manage your schedule. Over time, these missed meetings and deadlines may add up to a poor performance review or lost clients. By hiring a virtual assistant, you can transfer the responsibility of keeping up with your schedule to a professional. Instead of trying to find fancy ways to set up your schedule, your VA can simply inform you when you have something coming up and what you may need for it.
For example, if you have a Zoom meeting with Kathy from accounting at 2 pm, your VA can remind you of this at the beginning of the day and a half-hour beforehand. This way, you can be prepped and ready with documents on hand for the meeting - all without having to manage your schedule on your own.
A growing business or client list
If you are a remote worker that has a growing list of clients or customers, managing this growth on your own may be challenging. Depending on your industry, you may find that your company is growing faster than you are able to effectively maintain. When this occurs, hiring a VA can help you by redirecting your workload. This is especially true if the growing business is a side business in addition to your day job. Rather than wishing for more hours in a day, you can rely on your virtual assistant to handle the overflow tasks.
What types of tasks can a virtual assistant do?
Virtual assistants can be assigned a variety of tasks, depending on their qualifications and their job description. When you hire a VA, you should do so with all the tasks you may need them for in mind. Remember - your assistant is hired to help make your life easier and reduce your workload. If you cannot rely on your assistant to take on your needed tasks, then they are not functioning as they should. Although many virtual assistants have “general” skills, finding one with a speciality may be necessary.
Social media management
Many assistants are skilled digital marketers that can be used to help increase your engagement on social media. If you use online platforms to advertise your services and expand your client base, a social media and digital background are essential in your virtual assistant. Do you need someone with experience using LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Are you focused on not only increasing engagement but attracting followers and potential clients through social media?
A social media management VA can create content, such as photos and videos, along with posting to each of your socials on a regular basis. They may also help you develop a social media strategy that can help you achieve your goals. When you hire the right VA, all you need to do is explain what you need, and they’ll lead the way from there.
Many virtual assistants are hired by remote workers to deal with customer service and customer support. If you run a business, it can be difficult to keep up with comments, emails, messages, and other forms of communication from customers. Professionals that have a reputation for not maintaining proper customer support are more likely to see drops in their customer base over time.
Your VA can complete tasks like answering phones, offering technical support, responding to pricing inquiries, and confirming appointments. Having a dedicated person to attend to these matters means that you won’t ever have to worry about leaving your customers waiting again. You can feel free to take care of your other responsibilities, knowing that customer support is functioning well.
General administrative tasks are the most popular reason for hiring an assistant. Although you may not need someone to optimize your social media or manage customers, your “everyday” tasks are still VA-worthy. Anything from drafting and sending emails, to proofreading project proposals and ordering new office supplies is possible. Can you think of a task that takes you longer than an hour each day that is not directly related to your proficiency at work? Whatever these tasks may be, assigning them to an assistant can help you focus on the aspects of your workload that directly require your attention.
What You Should Look Out For When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Before you hire a remote virtual assistant, you should consider a few things. It’s important that you understand what you are looking for before you begin your search. Keep reading for a breakdown of just a few of the important pre-hiring items to address.
Company confidentiality policies
How well can your virtual assistant keep your information private? Does the company you work for prohibit access to certain sensitive documents and information? There are security issues to think about when it comes to customer information. Before you hire a VA, you should be sure that you are not in breach of any confidentiality agreements or policies.
If you are hiring a virtual assistant as an individual, you should prepare a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that will be signed before the work begins. This will help to prevent leaks and breaches of information and serve to legally protect you/your company in the future. You may also consider what types of information you will share with your VA. Before you hire, jot down a list of the types of access they will need to complete the required tasks. From there, you can use relatively secure channels that require permission for access, like Google Docs, to share information.
Budget and availability
How much money can you afford to pay your VA per hour, per week, or per month? How many hours in total do you estimate needing them to work? Your budget and the hours needed will determine the level of skill and experience your VA will have. If you have a lower budget, you may have to settle for someone a bit new to the virtual assistant field or maybe someone who does not natively speak your language. With a larger budget, you can afford to be pickier about who you hire.
If you have clients or customers in a range of different time zones, you’ll also want to consider where your VA is located. Do you want to have access to them during working hours in your time zone? Or can they work according to what time it is where they are located? If you have a lot of time-sensitive tasks to handle, you may want to have someone in the same time zone as you or who is willing to work while you work.
You’ll want to hire someone that at least has a basic knowledge of the language that you work in. Communication is key when it comes to instructing assistants and language barriers are often the most challenging to overcome. You may give an instruction that is misunderstood and the effects of this misunderstanding may be detrimental to yourself or others you work with.
When hiring, consider what the VA is needed for and what type of language skills they will need. You can opt for a native speaker or be willing to work with someone who is not native, but fluent or conversational. Sometimes, you need your assistant to speak the language that your clients or customers speak. In this case, you’ll want to zero in on assistants who can verify their language abilities in the language you need. If you speak the language needed, you can vet them yourself. If not, you can hire a translator to assess their skills during a written or phone/video interview.
Since your virtual assistant will be working remotely, you need to determine how they will be paid. Bank transfers are sometimes not possible between certain countries and can often be expensive even when they are allowed. You can choose to use an online payment service instead. These are third-party systems that allow you to send money in any currency to any country that is pre-approved. These types of services include PayPal, Xoom, Payoneer, and Skrill.
You can also choose to be more old fashioned and send cheques to your virtual assistant. Do not consider this option if they are international, as the cheque may get lost or stolen before it can be received.
Even if you’ve never before thought that your workload was heavy enough for a remote virtual assistant, hopefully, you can now see the benefits. You’ll want to be cautious as you go about the hiring process to ensure that the person you find is loyal, confidential, and skilled.
Since they will be an employee of yours, you should be prepared to act like a boss. Ensure that all the necessary requirements are set up before you hire so that your VA can smoothly integrate themselves into your work. A large part of how successful your assistant is will depend on how well you are able to communicate your needs and provide them with the tools they need. With a little bit of effort, you can certainly set up a system that benefits both yourself and your VA.
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