So, you’ve finally taken the leap and hired a Virtual Assistant to offload your administrative tasks.
Freeing, isn’t it? Now you have more time to focus on money-making matters and growing your business. But of course, you’re probably a little preoccupied with wondering how your Virtual Assistant is actually spending their time.
Virtual Assistants typically work from their home, and there’s no time-clock when you work remotely. This means that honesty and trust are what is holding your relationship together. To maintain an honest working relationship, your VA must be accountable for his or her time.
Accountability goes both ways—they’re still your employee. You are the one who must manage your employees, and part of that is monitoring their time and activities. After all, you are paying them by the hour.
Tracking your Virtual Assistant’s time is a necessary evil. It will allow you to monitor their progress, which will ultimately allow you to strengthen any weaknesses in your business.
There are a few different ways in which you can monitor your VA’s time. You can employ all of these practices at once or try them out individually.
It is crucial to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your new Virtual Assistant to follow. Without instruction, they won’t be able to perform their delegated tasks efficiently. But, don’t just hand over instructions and bid them adieu. Perfect the process yourself first.
Once you become intimately familiar with each task, you’ll know first-hand how long they should take. If it takes you 30 minutes to answer e-mails, it should take them the same amount of time.
As long as they have structured guidelines to follow, they’ll be able to move forward without having to do guesswork.
Using a time tracker, like Toggl, is the most efficient way to keep things transparent between you and your VA. It also comes in handy for billing.
A time tracker will monitor your VA’s activity and record their workflow, generating a report for you to view. You’ll be able to see how their time is allocated among tasks, and you can use the software to set goals on specific projects.
Some Virtual Assistants may find time tracking intimidating, or think it means you don’t trust them. It’s important to discuss this feature with them and use it from the start.
From start to finish, you want to maintain a communicative relationship with your Virtual Assistant.
Sometimes issues arise and they’ll need clarity before diving into a task. It is imperative that you don’t make them feel like they can’t come to you with questions. Remember, they’re a skilled part of your team now, but that doesn't mean they’ll have all the answers.
Make sure you always have a direct line of communication during business hours. Your assistant should be available to chat during those hours as well. If they live in a different time zone, you’ll want to come to an agreement for expected hours and means of communication.
You should at least check in via Skype or a live chat in the beginning and end of the week—that way you can brainstorm, delegate other tasks, troubleshoot an issue, or just check in for general updates.
Specifying your Virtual Assistant’s work hours is a good way to keep their hours from stretching beyond what you want to pay them.
Create a task sheet that includes instructions and the amount of time you want to be spent on each task. Have your VA check off tasks as they finished them, and ask them to include notes on their progress. For example, if they feel that they should have dedicated more or less time to an individual project, have them make a note of it with reasons why.
In order to ensure that they’ll be able to finish their tasks in your specified time frame, you must be reasonable with your expectations. Don’t delegate tasks that take 3 hours and expect them done in half the time.
There are some people out there who will ask for payment upfront, or at least a down payment.
This is because some people fear that they won’t get paid for the work that they’ve done. Adversely, some people will take your money and run. Hey, it happens!
It’s best to pay your Virtual Assistant on a weekly basis, especially if you have them completing tasks each day for a set number of hours. Remote work can feel like a waste of time, especially if there is an inconsistency with hours or payments.
Remember, your virtual employees are a part of your team. They’re there to help you grow your business. Above all, they're professionals who deserve your respect. If you don’t pay them in a timely manner, they may not “show up to work” one day.
It seems sneaky, but changing your passwords frequently is a good way to keep your Virtual Assistant on their toes.
If your VA is giving you 100%, then they’ll respond immediately if they can’t log in to your website or e-mail. If it takes them a few days to check in with you for the new passwords, it could mean that your VA is giving other jobs priority over you, or just plain old slacking off.
Tracking your Virtual Assistant’s time doesn’t have to come with the implication that you don’t trust them. Be open and honest about your expectations and needs from the beginning, and respect the learning curve.
If they cannot meet your needs after the adjustment period, it’s okay to consider replacing them with someone more efficient. After all, if you put the time and effort into training them, that effort should be reciprocated.
For more tips on entrepreneurship and hiring virtual employees, there are more articles to be read on our blog.