There are many pros to working with a remote team:
- Your talent pool expands beyond your local area
- You do not have to shower--or even brush your teeth--before a meeting
- Everyone generally is more productive
When it comes to working with a virtual assistant, these same pros apply. One major difference, though, is that while a VA may be an integral part of your team, they may also be supporting other clients. Listed below are three tips for making the most of your VA relationship.
Honor Their Time (and Yours)
If you agree to a meeting, be there. Avoid last-minute cancellations or reschedules. Yes, they work for you but most times they do not work for only you. When you no-show, that is time they could have been meeting with or working for another client and earning revenue. Even if they charge you for that time, they have lost productivity and, to be frank, lost a little trust and respect for you. Cancelling at the last minute and constantly moving meetings with your VA conveys that they are not a priority to your business. This is not the message you want to send to anyone working on your team.
Working well with a remote team means you have to rely more on scheduled meetings because “bump-into-you-in-the-hallway-hey-can-I-talk-to-you” conversations are not possible. Getting into a battle rhythm, or flow, with your VA makes for the most efficient use of time and energy. Missing those meetings only interrupts this flow. It slows them down, reduces the impact they can make for you, and degrades your relationship with them.
Share Clear Expectations (Rinse, Wash, Repeat)
Because they do not sit next to you, remote workers--including your virtual assistant--cannot sense how things are going for you. The natural cues that happen in an office setting do not exist as strongly in the remote world. It takes longer for them to get to know and pick up on your preferences in order to better anticipate them.
Being clear about your expectations helps speed up the “getting-to-know-you” part of the relationship. It also makes up for the reduction in natural cues. Think about those times when someone texted you and you got a little upset but were able to respond calmly. Unless the other person knows you very well, they have no idea what your initial reaction was.
Maybe that is good! However, if something is continually irking you and the other person only ever sees your calm, written responses, they will have no idea how you are truly feeling. To have a stronger relationship, you must be open and clear.
It is important to convey your time expectations on the delivery and completion of tasks. Equally as important is defining the task and how you expect to see or receive the end result. It all comes down to communication. A simple project management platform like Asana or Trello can be used for this type of communication.
Perhaps most importantly, you cannot just share your expectations once. Just because you agreed to a practice months ago, new habits always creep in and thus expectations become implied. Check in regularly and share consistently.
Working remotely can be lonely, even more so when your virtual assistant is the only one on your team doing so. Again, without the natural cues, deliberate and planned communication is essential.
Appreciating anyone on your team is important. And appreciation does not have to be grandiose. It can range from something as simple as a smile, a cheer, a high five all the way to a blow-out celebration. But the fist pumps and high fives that occur naturally in the office, as small a gesture as they are, may not happen online.
Be sure you are showing your appreciation for your VA in the small gestures online as well as the bigger, more planned acts. It has been said and is true that someone who feels appreciated will definitely work harder and surpass expectations.
Even a simple check in to let them know they are on the right path helps develop a strong relationship. We have seen numerous times where a Freedom Maker (what we call our team) lets us know they are concerned because they have not heard from the client. Many people assume silence means the client is dissatisfied. Yet almost every time we check in with the client, we learn they are very satisfied with the work but they have not provided feedback on the work product or even confirmed receipt of it.
Getting in the habit of showing appreciation ensures regular communication and avoids a black hole developing in the relationship.