Hiring and Working with Virtual Assistants
Welcome to the new era of work where teams are being redefined on a global scale. Fast and reliable internet made it possible for people not just to work from home but to connect with employees who work overseas.
This handy and compact guide will teach you what you need to know about hiring and working with virtual assistants based in other countries.
While some companies have a work from home policy, this is not the same as having a remote team or virtual assistants. As the name suggests, these employees are based in a completely different city, state, or country. Despite the distance, they are still considered as full-time staff and vital to the daily operations of the business.
Businesses that make use of remote workers and virtual staff are most often those that require operations or deliverables that could be submitted online. A lot of startups and SMEs hire virtual assistants to do a variety of tasks, which enable them to augment operation costs especially in the early stages of the business.
What are the common types of virtual assistant jobs?
Administrative Virtual Assistant
One of the most common types of virtual assistant tasks is office management. A virtual assistant for administrative tasks could manage emails and telephone calls, schedule and set up meetings, manage contracts or client lists, make travel arrangements, and more.
Bookkeeping Virtual Assistant
A lot of SME business owners or startup founders tend to manage their cash flow, however this can distract them from the big picture. Manual tasks such as inventory management, budgeting, or year-end bookkeeping can be handled by a virtual assistant.
Other tasks that a bookkeeper virtual assistant can do is payroll processing, paying for credit cards, and bookkeeping data entry.
Real Estate Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants who specialise in real estate perform a number of tasks related to getting leads or clients for real estate properties. This includes responding to email or social media inquiries, setting up meetings, data encoding, filing paperwork, and more.
They can also be entrusted to scrape data, manage your ads, and create reports.
Data Encoding and Management Virtual Assistant
Data encoding may be a very repetitive and manual task but for some businesses, it’s unavoidable. The good news is that data encoding virtual assistants are easy to find. The task of a data encoder includes preparing, compiling, and sorting data for entry. It also entails reviewing data for accuracy, data management, generating reports, and in some cases, entering data into a CRM system.
E-Commerce Management Virtual Assistant
Having an online store can be challenging especially since your customers come from all over the world and may require 24/7 assistance. Virtual assistants for e-commerce platforms usually handle email or chat support for your store. Since you can get virtual assistants from any part of the world, you can even get two or three different assistants from different time zones which can cover different shifts for you.
Other tasks of a virtual assistant for e-commerce websites include product data entry, managing orders, editing product images, managing product categories, and handling return or exchange of products.
Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant
Having a social media page and running advertisements can take a lot of time but since these tasks could be done online, the work can be done remotely. A virtual assistant can manage your digital marketing efforts, including creating posts for your social media page, creating content for your blog, answering online inquiries, and running digital campaigns or advertisements.
What are the benefits of hiring virtual assistants?
Flexibility to access talents from any part of the world
Since you can hire a virtual assistant or an entire remote team from any part of the world, this means you have access to the best talents from all around the world. If you are also managing a business that requires round the clock administrative or support work, then you can hire your virtual staff from different time zones.
You also get access to a pool of a younger, more dynamic workforce since a lot of young people are embracing the lifestyle of working remotely. In fact, the World Economic Forum reported that having virtual teams is “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace.
Costs are decreased for both employers and virtual assistants
Limited funds to run the daily operations of your business shouldn’t stop you from having a fully operational team. Having virtual assistants who can work from anywhere greatly decreases the operating costs of your business.
On the other hand, your virtual assistants will also be saved the hassle and cost of commuting and buying food during work hours. It seems like a win-win situation from both ends.
Levels of productivity and efficiency are increased
Do you know that virtual assistants and remote staff are reported to be more efficient? A Harvard Business Review study states that remote employees tend to be more productive. Why? The lower levels of stress and higher morale increase their productivity. It was said that they complete nearly an extra day’s worth of work every week compared to their in-office colleagues.
Virtual assistants who work offsite can also work at their own pace. Since they are not exposed to the stress of commuting, inclement weather, and time is not wasted on travel, they start work fresh and energised.
Of course, this seamless working experience can only be possible if you have a high-speed and secure business broadband.
How do you find and hire virtual assistants?
The first thing to consider is your budget based on the scope of the work and the difficulty. The second thing you must think about is where you can find them. After you have those covered, you must set up an onboarding process, similar to the ones you use if you employ an onsite assistant.
How much does it cost to hire virtual assistants?
The cost of hiring virtual assistants depends on the kind of task they are required to do. Most virtual assistants are paid by the hour, especially those who work regular shifts.
The more complicated the task, the higher the hourly rate. Easier tasks such as office administration or data entry usually costs €13 to €27 per hour. For tasks that require more experience and a higher skill set such as running full digital campaigns, these virtual assistants usually charge €36 to €68 per hour. If you need work done on a long-term basis, you may also negotiate a monthly retainer fee to make sure that they have regular deliverables.
These figures are merely guidelines, and, in some cases, a virtual assistant may charge more if they have more experience in their field. Look around these virtual assistant websites to check the usual rate for the specific task you are hiring for. Bear in mind your budget for hiring the virtual assistant too. The trick is to balance your budget with a quality virtual assistant.
Is a virtual assistant worth it?
Most business owners will need to consider the tradeoff between virtual assistants or just working on the tasks themselves. To properly evaluate this tradeoff, you must know your hourly worth or value. This can usually be calculated by dividing your monthly or annual income goal by the number of hours you intend to work.
For example, if you want an annual income of 80,000, divided by 2,000 work hours equals €40 per hour. Now as an entrepreneur, you have to focus on the big picture and activities that bring value to your business. Any tasks that fall below your target hourly rate should be delegated to someone else, such as virtual assistants.
Where do you hire virtual assistants?
Luckily, there are websites that facilitate the work between virtual assistants and employers such as Fiverr, Freelancer, or UpWork. On these websites, you can post job advertisements or comb through the profiles of virtual staff to see if anyone fits your requirements. You can even filter virtual assistants per country. So if you have operations in Asia or North America, you can choose from virtual assistants from the Philippines, India, or USA.
Now how do virtual assistants get paid? Usually, websites like these also facilitate the payment and checking the work hours logged of virtual assistants hired for a project or job.
Another way to go about it is to post on the usual job sites like LinkedIn where you can indicate your need for a virtual assistant. The upside to posting on other sites like these is that you get access to a bigger pool of talents.
How do you select a virtual assistant?
The selection process for virtual assistants may be a bit different from hiring an onsite employee. For one, all interviews must be done online via video call which is why fast, reliable internet is important.
Step 1: Job Posting
The very first step is posting your job spec on the freelancer websites.
If you want to be discreet about your opening, you may also browse through the profiles of freelancers and you may message them directly about your opening.
Step 2: Screening
Once you screen your candidates, you may also ask them to undergo an online exam. For example:
- Social Media Virtual Assistant: Answer example customer inquiries
- Data Entry Virtual Assistant: Clean up and sort a sample database
- E-Commerce Virtual Assistant: Write sample product descriptionsAside from possible legal consequences, freelancer websites also have a rating system and these virtual assistants can leave a review about you. Even if you do not hire them using these websites, there are existing online communities composed of virtual assistants and they tend to share negative experiences with unpleasant clients. The last thing you want is to have a bad reputation or be blacklisted from these communities.
- Just take note that if you require your candidate to produce a deliverable as part of the screening process, such as blog posts or reports, it wouldn’t be appropriate to use these materials without their consent.
Step 3: Onboarding and Trial
Once your virtual assistant of choice has passed your screening process, it’s time to welcome them to the team! This is where proper documentation can be handy. Make sure you have documented your process so it will be easier for your virtual assistants to follow protocols.
You can also hire them on a trial basis and make sure you have a contract with them that states their deliverables and goals, feedback mechanisms, and measures to take if they won’t reach their quota. However, do make sure to give them adequate training especially for using tools or protocols exclusive to your business.
How do you manage a team of virtual assistants?
Have clear deliverables and deadlines
It is essential to establish what is expected from your virtual assistants from the outset. What are their deliverables and deadlines? What are their targets? There should be metrics for success so that their performance can be judged fairly when it comes to their performance review or a raise.
You may also ask your virtual assistants to update a daily log sheet to keep track of time. This is important if you’re paying them by the hour. Alternatively, they can also submit a weekly or monthly progress report to show that they are hitting their quota or submitting their deliverables.
Schedule meetings or check-ins
Though it is possible to work entirely via email or sending documents online, conducting meetings is still an important part of managing a virtual team. This gives your virtual assistants the opportunity to discuss topics that may be difficult to discuss via email.
Virgin Media’s VOOM Cloud Voice is perfect for these meetings whether they be voice calls, conference calls or instant messaging.
Improve group rapport
It may be difficult building rapport with your virtual staff members, but it is not impossible! During online conferences or voice calls, make sure to allot a few minutes to talk about non-work topics and getting to know each other a little better.
Another way to keep in touch with your virtual assistants is to include them in an online group chat with employees who are working onsite. This would make them feel that they are still part of the core team and updated with the latest happenings in the company.
Keep your files on the cloud so that they are accessible for everyone
Standard operating procedures, reports, etc. should all be documented and accessible for everyone so that turnaround time will be faster.
For this, find a business broadband plan that can handle heavier data usage and managing company files in the cloud, like Virgin Media’s Business 300 Bundle.
Partner with a reliable business broadband for seamless communication
As more and more companies are embracing hiring staff from overseas, SMEs and startups can benefit from this, especially in terms of cost. With Virgin Media Business, hiring and working with virtual assistants can be frictionless because of the fast broadband.
Get reliable internet speeds of up to 500Mbps and flexible plans that serve your specific business goals. Virgin Media Business is more than your broadband provider, it’s your partner in business ready to support you as you grow and prosper.