Tips for Working with a Virtual Personal Assistant

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In today’s fast-paced business environment, with more virtual offices and freelance workers, virtual personal assistants have become increasingly common. Here are some tips for working with a virtual personal assistant.

  • Know how you are competing for time. Many virtual personal assistants work for multiple people in a freelance role. As such, ask interview questions that assess how your potential new assistant’s time will be allocated and how conflicts will be handled. 
  • Clarify scope and boundaries. Are you expecting your virtual personal assistant to only support work projects, or do you need help in your personal life too, with scheduling doctor appointments, making reservations or ordering gifts? Make sure when interviewing a virtual assistant to assess your level of trust in the individual’s ability to meet possibly sensitive work or life needs.
  • Establish communication ground rules and pathways. How often will you and your virtual assistant touch base? How will you communicate? Engaging in a mix of communication approaches – email, electronic messaging, video chat and phone – can help build relationships while also quickly complete transactional tasks. Set patterns and expectations early to keep in touch. 
  • Establish a clear electronic filing system. Part of effective communication is effective file management. Your administrative assistant will need to navigate your existing virtual filing system or will need to work with you to establish one. There are many options to support file storage and sharing: Microsoft® OneDrive® or SharePoint®, Box®, Dropbox®, Google DriveTM, and others. Effectively working with these filing systems will help the virtual work move faster and more smoothly.
  • Show your appreciation. When working with any remote employee, it can be easy to forget that he or she is a human, with feelings and emotions that don’t show over email. We all need to feel appreciated, so be sure to connect with your assistant to say thank you and to provide feedback on a job well done. Don’t just save it for Administrative Professionals’ Day!  Appreciation can and should be shown at any time.

Used well, virtual assistants can add a new level of efficiency and professionalism to your work or can provide logistical relief for your personal life. Be clear on your needs, so you can find the best match.

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