Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Working with a Virtual Assistant can be a new, nerve-wracking experience. You don’t know the person you are entrusting to complete the work. You aren’t working in the same location where questions can get answered immediately……..It’s a whole new world!
These doubts and fears CAN be overcome though! Knowing what questions and topics to cover when talking with a Virtual Assistant can help put your mind at ease and make the work relationship move forward smoothly. But what are those questions and topics?
What are your “working hours”?
Many Virtual Assistants do not work in the same time zone, or even the same country, as the clients they are providing services for. Because of this, many times the “working hours” are a little hard to narrow down. Discuss with the Virtual Assistant the hours and days that both you and them are the most productive. Coordinate tasks to be completed during these times to ensure that tasks are being completed on time.
When to schedule meetings and catch-up time?
Since many Virtual Assistants have multiple clients, it can be difficult to know when is a good time to schedule meetings and when they are having their catch-up time and vice versa. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to meeting or catch-up days and times. For instance, I prefer to have all my meetings earlier in the week, in the mornings if possible. This allows me time to review action items and work on them while they are fresh in my mind and throughout the rest of the week.
What days do you work?
In the virtual world, creating your own schedule is a huge perk. Many Virtual Assistants start their business because of this fact, they can work when and where they want. In the same aspect, many business owners decide what their working days are (e.i. M-F 9-5, M-Th 8-6, etc.) Understanding each other’s working days can alleviate any misunderstandings of when work is due and why communication stops.
How do you prefer to communicate?
It seems like there is a new method to communicate every other day, how do you keep them all straight? Maybe emailing is the ONLY means of communication you will use. Maybe you NEVER use email and hate when you get them. Make certain your communication preference is clear and stick with it!
What style do you communicate in?
Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us try to read between the lines from time to time. If you don’t understand the other person’s communication style, this can lead to animosity and feelings of discouragement. When I get busy or really focused on a task, I tend to respond to others with a one-word response. Sometimes people feel like this is a sign of hostility or anger, when truthfully, I just don’t want to get side-tracked but I don’t want to ignore them either.
What project management system do you use/recommend?
Project management systems are just like communication channels, they are constantly coming out with new and improved platforms. Trello is still quite popular and many people swear by it, never wanting to switch to anything else. ClickUp and Monday.com are becoming increasingly popular with their option to integrate other apps. Fully understanding what project management system will be used is crucial to productivity and efficiency.
How do you successfully utilize the project management system?
Depending on the project management system you use, and what you use it for, it is going to look different for everyone. I like to have a project management system where I can have tasks and sub-tasks. A project and all of its different components can be easily found in one spot reducing the risk of things “falling through the cracks”.
How do you prefer to share files and documents?
Everyone has heard of Dropbox and Google Drive by now and everyone has their one preference on what they use to share files in the digital world. I know companies that still want every document sent through email and employees save to their own device. Side note: DON’T DO THAT!!! You never know if you’re working on the correct version or if someone is making edits at the same time you are. Ideally, you want to use a file sharing system that allows up to the minute updates.
Processes & Procedures
How do you keep workflows running smoothly?
Simple answer: Processes and Procedures! I am a firm believer in this concept. Without it, there is chaos and confusion all over the place. Find out what workflow works the best for your specific situation and train everyone how to perform it properly. If you have even one person that does their own thing, it can throw everyone else off and eventually have a waterfall effect on productivity and efficiency.
Making sure you cover these topics and asking appropriate questions will clearly define what the expectations are. Don’t be scared to prepare a list in advance and add additional questions. We all want to be successful and understanding each other is the first step to accomplishing that goal!