The popularity of virtual assistants in recent years has brought numerous benefits to small and medium-sized businesses as they scale and grow. Virtual assistants are able to pick up on tasks and projects during periods of intense growth and restructure or supplement in-house skills as required.
For many business owners, the focus on growth can de-prioritise business admin, leaving hours of client data, invoicing and an unorganised work scheduled in its wake. I’m sure you’ll agree that when there’s a choice between the needs of a paying client and tidying up your inbox/tax receipts, the former takes precedent! It’s such a common predicament for ambitious business owners; therefore, the question that intrigues us most, is why business owners do not engage the business support skills of remote assistant? If you manage a busy, successful business and can relate to this scenario read on…
Biggest fears of working with a Remote Assistant
After surveying current clients, we concluded their biggest fear was managing remote workers within their team – notably ensuring productivity, accountability and motivation of the remote worker was planned and managed. People management in-house was reported as difficult enough, but the thought of extending this management remotely seemed to make the challenge too hard. This challenge seems to be the biggest obstacle to engaging help, even when it is desperately required, so let us share some tips on how to overcome this.
How to manage a team members (remotely & in-house):
It’s important to communicate regularly with transparency and openness to your team members. Each person must understand your strategy and objectives, be motivated in the work you want them to do and feel able to ask questions when they need to. Having regular calls (video calls are good for individual sessions) is useful to ensure that each worker, especially your remote assistant, has a space to ask questions and receive individual advice or information. Consistency in the messaging you send is also key as it creates a stable working environment.
Include all remote team members in in-house communications. This helps with the feeling of inclusion but also provides insight and information around the business. It’s important to make sure your remote workers feel as appreciated as your in-house team members do - accountability and motivation are important to the success of every team. Effective communication ensures that all team members are accountable and motivated.
It’s important to learn how to delegate effectively as opposed to telling people to do tasks then move on to your next job. Clear instructions, a place to refer them to, communications around the tasks and clear outputs are essential. People like to understand why they are working on a task, what is expected of them and when they are to deliver. As SmartPA, we use Monday.com to keep our teams up to date. It is a cloud-based system which means every update is live – the location of users is irrelevant to the team members as all communication is recorded against each task.
Similarly, it is important if you have a team of both in-house and remote workers, that work is allocated fairly - it may be easier to simply hand over tasks to those that sit close to you, but some careful consideration needs to be made to ensure the fair distribution of work.
Many business owners find it difficult to delegate tasks but starting slowly and building trust can be a great place to start. Once you get a system in place to manage all tasks and get used to using it, you’ll soon realise the benefits of delegating whenever possible. It shines a new light on managing people.
As more and more businesses engage remote workers as part of their team, it is imperative that information is shared easily between individuals to ensure deadlines and objectives are met and transparency encouraged in the workplace. At SmartPA, Monday.com, Pipedrive, Drip, Yammer, Microsoft Teams, Skype and LastPass are all examples of CRM and project management platforms we use to streamline information sharing.
Is it worth it?
With the rise of remote and flexible working, the traditional way of working is shifting. This is changing the way we manage teams with more and more home working and remote workers integrating into the workforce. In addition to boosting productivity through better organisation, virtual assistants reduce office overheads in numerous ways. There is a spectrum of virtual business support options available today, so it pays to research how your virtual assistant manages their own business, how highly trained they are, where they are located and how well they fit into your team. What cannot be contested is their value within a team. The technology and communication systems are available to manage all team members regardless of where they choose to carry out their work.