Want to Hire A Virtual Assistant? Read This First

Remote Communication Barriers

Working with a VA shouldn’t be like playing a game of telephone!

There are clear benefits to hiring a virtual assistant:

  • Virtual assistants save you time
  • Virtual assistants make you more productive
  • Virtual assistants do the work you don’t want to
  • Virtual assistants help your business grow

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many busy entrepreneurs and business owners have a virtual assistant.

But if you’ve never worked with a remote employee before, you might be surprised to hear that hiring a virtual assistant isn’t a quick fix.

In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing, having a VA could be more work than it’s worth!

The Two Big Barriers to Successful Communication

Communication is a key component of any successful working relationship. But it becomes more of a challenge when that communication takes place remotely.

Virtual assistants are very good at what they do. They have worked with dozens, and sometimes hundreds of entrepreneurs, even though most entrepreneurs have only worked with one or two VA’s. That’s why we decided to ask them what the biggest remote communication challenges are.

We learned that most virtual assistants deal with only two communication challenges every day.

1. You’re Too Busy

I know, I know. If you weren’t so busy you wouldn’t need a virtual assistant! Still, if they don’t have access to you, it’s really hard for them to do their jobs.

“Every client is different, but they all have one thing in common – they are busy! One of our biggest challenge is to have enough information about tasks to keep productivity high. Many clients are very available to answer questions, but it often happens that clients expect work to be done, and assume directions are clear – when in fact more information is needed, and unfortunately they are unavailable to provide answers in a timely way! This obviously results in frustrations both ways!” – Sandra Lewis

We spoke to tons of virtual assistants and they all said the same. When you’re too busy to take their call, it holds your business back. They’re great at getting things done but they need your direction to do things the way you want them done.

“The people who hire me are too busy to do all the work themselves. Sadly, they’re also often too busy to check / answer my emails with questions, they’re too busy to nail down a call time with and definitely too busy to use any type of messenger.” – Kat Armstrong

2. Email Sucks

Let’s face it, email can be a challenging way to communicate. Not everything gets conveyed naturally the way it does in a voice conversation. This means that sometimes things you or your VA say might get misinterpreted, causing some friction.

“My biggest challenge in communicating with clients is usually email related. We’ve become a world that wants to only communicate electronically, because we think it’s faster or takes up less of our time, but it can leave a lot of openings for interpretation, mood, or they disappear into some cyber-vacuum to never be seen again.”  – Elizabeth McVeigh

Both you and your virtual assistant are at risk of being misinterpreted when all your communication takes place by email.

“I think the biggest challenge is learning the art of email communication.  Due to time zones and schedules that is the primary way I communicate with my clients but email doesn’t have voice inflections or tone.  Sometimes it may not come across the way it was intended so you have to be careful how you respond.” Quay Hayden

Solution: How Can You Avoid These Communication Barriers With Your Virtual Assistant?

The most important thing you can do is be aware of these challenges. Just knowing that your VA needs access to you to do their job properly will remind you to respond to their emails or hop on the phone in a timely manner. Being aware of the drawbacks of email will you remind you to be really clear with your requests, and ask questions if you’re not clear about theirs.

If you want to take it step further, I recommend creating a system that allows you to check in with each other on a regular basis. We are a remote team and we use our teamspir.it logbook to share our ideas, struggles, and mood without disrupting the workflow. This only needs to take a few minutes each day and it helps us collaborate much better!

By the way, teamspir.it logbooks are free for two people. I recommend trying it out with your assistant!

If you work remotely or have remote employees, what’s your biggest communication challenge? Let me know in the comments below.

Image credit: CLongueira