Busy entrepreneurs and business professionals with lots of tasks to be accomplished on daily basis find virtual assistants very useful. But the process of identifying and hiring a great virtual assistant could take time, especially if you need an extraordinary virtual assistant with great skills. Virtual assistants are changing how things get done, and they can do your tasks from anywhere efficiently without occupying your office space.
Why you may need a virtual assistant
You should consider taking on a virtual assistant if you need want help with tasks that does not require the physical presence, if you need urgent help but cannot afford to hire a full time employee, if you are overwhelmed with your current responsibilities, want to be more productive in a single week and deliver more on your work. Popular reasons for virtual assistants include Screening e-mails, scheduling appointments, booking travel arrangements, making calls on your behalf, conducting research, filling out expense reports and tracking reimbursements.
Identify what needs to be delegated
The decision to hire a virtual assistant can significantly improve your productivity when done right but the right procedure could delay the hiring process. You have to first identify your own daily and weekly tasks and activities that you want to delegate and how those tasks should be done and when they have to be done. And of course you cannot avoid the lengthy job description for the sake of the virtual assistant and for your own good. You don’t want to attract the wrong crowd. Your requirements must be simple enough to be understood by potential applicants.
Don’t even think about a jack-of-all-trades Virtual Assistant!
The fact that a virtual assistant takes up most of your daily tasks or weekly responsibility does not mean they should wear all the different hats in your office. Desperate ones will promise you they will be able to do most different things at a time. A great and extraordinary virtual assistant is usually very skillful at some kind of task and can do it to perfection. Make that clear in your job description and hire experts who are good at what they do and they will over deliver.
A jack-of-all-trades virtual assistant is likely to under perform. Hire extraordinary virtual assistants who are great at they do and you will not have to worry about performance.
For higher productivity always ask for deliverables and progress reports
A virtual assistant has to provide you daily or weekly reports on what they are working on. You need to request for deliverables like you do from your employees or in-house workers. In as much as you expect your assistants to deliver on your tasks, you have to give them time to work with little or no interruption. Reports and deliverables prevent you from constantly checking up on your virtual assistant which could be a distraction. The best way to tell if your virtual assistant is working is to simply focus on the daily or weekly deliverables.
Your working styles should be in sync
Most virtual assistants are in different time zones, but of course you can narrow down to those in your time zones. But whoever you select, make sure your business styles are in sync. Simple tasks like scheduling important and immediate meetings and emailing need immediate reply and response and you are better off with somebody who can reply your emails as soon as you receive them or an assistant who can schedule that partnership meeting without delay.
If any of you lovely readers has an opinion about virtual assistants, or has a past experience working with virtual assistants, share in the comments below.