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How to manage a virtual assistant


Working with a remote assistant offers numerous benefits and can help you to achieve ongoing business success. While you may not require a full-time, in-house PA, a remote assistant enables you to access the support you need, in a cost-effective way.

Unsure on how to hire a virtual assistant? Learn how to here.

In order to get the most out of your business support, however, it’s vital that you manage your employees and workers appropriately. Despite the remote location of a virtual assistant, you may need to work closely and be in regular contact to get the most out of the support provided.

Identify the type of support you need

When hiring a remote assistant, you may need to specify the type of assistance you require. Often, this will depend on the nature of your role and the industry in which you work. However, the role may be subject to change and you may require your remote PA to carry out additional duties or tasks which were not originally part of their remit.

Retaining flexibility is crucial to success and will ensure that your remote assistant is able to carry out a wide variety of roles, as and when they are needed. While you may hire a remote assistant to manage your diary and respond to emails, for example, you may also want them to carry out research for you on an ad-hoc basis.

Identifying your business support needs prior to hiring a remote assistant can help to ensure that you are matched to the right candidate. If your requirements change, however, you can liaise with your remote assistant and determine whether they are able to carry out different tasks or undertake extra work.

Regular remote meetings, for example, can be an ideal way to discuss your upcoming requirements with your assistant. By making sure your assistant is aware of potential projects or large-scale contracts, you can confirm that they are able to handle incoming correspondence, as well as your diary and engagements.

Learn to delegate effectively

Although many people rely on assistants and business support, they can find it difficult to delegate tasks. This can be particularly problematic for entrepreneurs or business owners who have launched companies from the ground up.

If you’re used to carrying out tasks alone and running the organisation single-handedly, you may find it difficult to suddenly delegate tasks to other personnel.

As your business grows, however, you simply won’t be able to deal with everything alone and micromanaging support staff is unlikely to lead to a productive working relationship. While you may find it difficult to trust other people to complete tasks to your satisfaction, you’ll need to have confidence in their ability to carry out the work appropriately.

In most cases, this trust evolves over time and working with your remote assistant on an ongoing basis ensures that they can perform their role in a way that suits your working method.

While you may wish to speak with your assistant directly when delegating tasks, you can also make use of software designed to aid the management of remote workers, as highlighted below. By delegating effectively, you can focus on business operations, such as meeting with clients or investors and leave the administrative and support tasks to your qualified and respected remote assistant.

Clear communication

Clear communication is vital to any business relationship. No employee can fulfil their role effectively if they are unsure what’s expected of them and this applies to remote workers, as well as in-house staff.

As you won’t be liaising with your remote assistant on a face-to-face basis, it’s vital that you communicate your needs clearly. While you may have regular phone conferences with your assistant, it’s also useful to confirm your requirements in writing, via email.

This ensures that instructions and requirements are delivered quickly and can be referred to when necessary. Furthermore, your remote assistant can query any instructions which are unclear before undertaking the work.

As remote assistants work closely with managers, business owners and entrepreneurs, they are quick to pick up on the requirements and needs of their clients. By communicating your needs and their duties clearly, however, you can ensure that there are no misunderstandings. This, in turn, allows work to be completed efficiently and can increase productivity considerably.

Make use of technology

When conversing with your remote assistant, you’re likely to use a range of technology. Email, instant messaging, video calls and VOIP all provide quick and reliable ways to stay in touch with your support staff.

There is additional software, however, that could increase the effectiveness of your existing assistant and enable you to share information swiftly. Cloud computing, for example, enables you and your assistant to share access to certain documents.

If you both need to add updates or make changes to a specific document, you can both access it remotely in real-time, rather than sending the document back and forth and potentially duplicating work.

In addition to this, there is specific software which can help you to delegate tasks to your remote assistant. Often automated, these programs ensure that your assistant is able to carry out work efficiently and doesn’t need to wait for additional tasks to be given.

Enabling you to delegate in advance, remote working software can be extremely advantageous when it comes to getting the most out of your relationship with your assistant.

Similarly, diary management software can be used to facilitate the remote managing of your engagements and meetings. While your remote assistant will require access to your diary in order to book meetings and arrange appointments, you’ll also need to be able to access the most up-to-date information and add engagements you’ve arranged yourself.

Using designated diary management software, alongside other programs and technology, ensures that your business schedule is managed effectively. Furthermore, using this type of software means that you can access your diary from remote locations yourself.

Infographic: 5 Benefits of Remote Working

Rather than having to be in the office to access crucial documents, you can view, amend and edit them from any location with an internet connection. Whether you’re at home, on the go or travelling, it’s important that you’re contactable and able to continue to work.

Cloud computing and software aimed at facilitating remote working ensures that you can take the office with you and continue to access your diary, as well as other documents, from numerous devices.

Integrate your remote assistant with your team

As your remote assistant will be working remotely, it may be easy to forget that they are an integral part of the team. While in-house staff may benefit from regular face-to-face interactions, briefings and social aspects of work, your remote staff won’t have access to these.

Remembering your remote assistant is part of the team, and treating him or her accordingly, will lead to a more harmonious relationship. In some cases, remote workers don’t feel as valued as in-house staff, despite the crucial impact they have on business success. Recognising the worth of your remote PA and conveying this to them will ensure that they feel appreciated and will ensure that workers, as well as employees, are satisfied in their roles.

In addition to this, treating your remote assistant as part of your team will have a direct impact on your business too. While office staff may be aware of in-house changes or industry news, for example, remote workers may not be present when such details are made public.

Including your remote PA assistant in in-house communications can, therefore, enhance their knowledge of your business and the sector in which you operate. By gaining more insight into the organisation, your remote assistant can perform their role more effectively and will be able to perform tasks which business changes and industry developments in mind.

Get the most from your remote assistant

Working with a remote assistant can be advantageous for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even managers in large companies or multinational corporations. Using a remote PA to manage your diary, make travel arrangements and handle your emails, for example, leaves you free to focus on other areas.

In addition to this, an experienced remote assistant can undertake tasks such as transcribing audio recordings, producing business documents and even bookkeeping. By relieving in-house staff of these administrative tasks, you can free up your employee’s time and ensure cost-effective business support is available.

Download: The Power of the Remote Workforce

The true success of a remote assistant, however, often comes down to how you manage your PA. By delegating tasks, providing clear communication and using relevant forms of technology, you can ensure that your remote assistant is able to integrate into your business or organisation effectively.

As your remote assistant becomes part of your team, you’ll foster company loyalty and ensure that all workers, whether remote or in-house, represent your brand appropriately. Whilst a remote PA may not operate from within your office, effective management will ensure that they are an integral part of your team and your success.

To find out more about working with a remote assistant, contact us today.