A practical guide to working with a virtual assistant

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Delegating is difficult. As a small or medium-sized business owner, you may find it tempting to try to do everything yourself. However, not only is this not sustainable, but it’s also not the smartest way to run your business. Enter virtual assistants – a valuable resource for any small business to tap into.

Anytime someone in your business is working on routine tasks that could be tackled by someone else, this is a loss to your company, and it limits the person’s ability to unlock their full potential.

Hiring a virtual assistant is a clever move as they aren’t just there to handle your email inbox and make travel arrangements. They are capable of so much more and have rich backgrounds in various industries.

Often, as leaders, you’re expected to know exactly how to work with a virtual assistant from the start. However, if this is not something you’ve ventured into before, it may help to have some guidance as to how to work with your remote employee so that you’re using their time and talent as efficiently as possible.


Start with expectations

The very first time you meet with your new virtual assistant, make sure you spend time clearly outlining what you expect of them. If you don’t know exactly what work you’ll be tasking your virtual assistant with yet, don’t stress. You can still discuss the level of work you expect, how you require them to communicate with you and your team, and when you want them to be available.

Setting clear expectations leaves little room for miscommunication and error as everyone is on the same page.


Get them set up for success 

Once you’ve had your initial first meeting with your virtual assistant, you’re going to want to get them onboarded effectively so they can start working with you as soon as possible.

Block out some time in your diary (or delegate this to someone else) to ensure your virtual assistant gets any company-specific software that you may have and that you train them in how things work in your company. The clearer you are with your onboarding process, the smoother your collaboration with a virtual assistant will be.


A new way to give direction

It may sound absurd or awfully uncomfortable but creating voice or video memos is an excellent way to communicate instructions to your virtual assistant. Better yet, you won’t have to give the instructions a second time if you hire more than one remote employee.

Video or audio memos save you time and you can walk your virtual assistant through something without having to get on a call with them. Sometimes, things are easier to explain aloud rather than in an email.


Iron out the kinks with a trial run

If you have something really important that you want your new virtual assistant to handle but you’re struggling to let go of doing the task yourself, do a dry run. For example, if there are monthly reports you compile and send out to your clients, have your virtual assistant compile the reports as per your voice or video memo and then have them send it to you as they would send it to a client.

If they make any errors or don’t do things the way you had hoped, you’ve got time to iron out the kinks before the work goes directly to your clients. Trial running more important tasks ensures they’re done right from the start and gives you more peace of mind when you delegate.


Treat them like any other employee

Think of your virtual assistant as you would any employee. Although they might not be working in your office, they’re still working for you. This means that they require feedback just as much as an on-site employee would. When it comes to larger tasks, just like any other person, there is always the chance that they may have misunderstood your instructions and got the output wrong.

Just like you would with a new in-house employee, our advice is to be patient, especially in the initial few weeks. If you were to assign an on-site employee a large task, you would check in on them regularly – do the same with your virtual assistant to ensure things are getting done right the first time.


Learning to delegate is a powerful way to take your small or medium-sized business to the next level. Delegating to a virtual assistant may not be something you’re familiar with, but you at least now know where to start. If you’re interested in hiring a virtual assistant, contact us via our website and let’s chat about how you can start delegating today.

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