How To Use Virtual Assistants To Improve Your Productivity

With the globalisation of the business world, it is now easier than ever to find staff to perform virtual roles within your small business to help improve your productivity and free up time spent on day to day tasks to better focus on the strategic direction of your business.

Virtual assistants can be used to provide support in almost any role within your small business – be it administrative, technical, creative, research focused – your ability to outsource most roles is just about limitless.

Because virtual assistants work in the online world they can be physically located anywhere in the world which gives you access to staff prepared to work for much lower wages than your local employee pool as well as access to technical skills that may not be available locally.

The employment conditions offered to VAs can be very flexible – ranging from project based, casual, part time and full time. Again this gives you a huge ability to control costs for specific tasks and roles as you can turn your wages cost on and off without regard to local employment laws.

Other benefits from using virtual assistants include the reduction in wage on costs (such as providing office space, computers, insurance, pension funding etc) and the ability to have staff working in different time zones to complement existing staff and provide a 24 hour service model.

Of course there can also be challenges in outsourcing employees.

Obviously you cannot delegate physical tasks to virtual employees – some jobs just need a human hand.

Using staff in foreign countries brings up immediate challenges in different language and cultural understandings. Even issues around different holiday periods, climatic events and the quality of internet access will cause challenges that need to be overcome.

On balance though, more and more small business entrepreneurs are finding they can improve profitability and improve productivity by outsourcing roles to virtual assistants providing they tightly control the relationship.

Some tips for successfully controlling the relationship include:

  • Make sure you develop a proper job description before looking for a VA
  • Advertise on quality outsourcing sites with some simple criteria for applicants to meet and cull anyone who does not meet all of the criteria.
  • Request each applicant to complete a simple relevant task to demonstrate their ability to deliver what you are looking for; don’t just rely on the portfolio they may have listed on the online profile.
  • Shortlist the applicants to the top 3 and conduct a Skype video interview to make sure you can have a personal connection with the person and test your ability to accurately communicate with them.
  • Execute an employment agreement with the selected applicant to ensure there are no misunderstandings of the role and expected outcomes.
  • Undertake continuous performance management of the virtual assistant including regular feedback on task completion – just as you would with a physical employee.
  • Utilise online tools to collaborate and manage the tasks and roles as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

Russell Cummings, one of my colleagues in Mindshop, a business consulting group I am a member of, has produced the following webinar on how he uses Virtual Assistants to improve the productivity in his small business and how he coaches clients to achieve the same success as he does. I recommend the video to you.

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