Everyone who runs a business should know the benefits of having a virtual assistant. They are extremely flexible when it comes to working schedules, and they come with the added benefit of being a cost-effective option when you find yourself with an overabundance of administrative tasks.
They are also able to do a lot of tasks which your normal run-of-the-mill administrative assistant wouldn’t be able to handle. This is because a lot of virtual assistants are experts in certain fields with years of experience under their belts.
So, willing to work mostly any time of the day, have prior experience with certain complicated tasks, and they even come at a cheaper price? Well, it’s obvious just why virtual assistants are on the rise, and more and more companies are looking for VAs rather than full-time employees.
However, they’re not perfect, and they do have a few downsides. The most obvious of them, and most prevalent, is the matter of trust. Not to say that most VAs aren’t trustworthy—which is actually quite the opposite. But rather, it’s a matter of prudence.
Even if you’ve never actually tried your hand at business, you know better than to trust someone you’ve never met before. However, this is sometimes the case with virtual assistants, as some of the best aren’t located within the country, and possibly might even be in a different time zone.
There are even times when, during the entire hiring phase of a VA, both employer and assistant never had the chance to do video calls. And yet it doesn’t stop them from working years together, with one benefitting from the other the whole time.
Here, we’re going to explore how you can build trust between you and your VA, and in fact, any other remote employee who works for you. This is important as being able to trust each other will only make things easier down the road.
Trust is a two-way street
One of the first things you need to acknowledge before we get to any of the juicy parts is the fact that trust is a two-way street. The virtual assistants also need to trust you to put in effort, and that they will get paid for what they are doing for your company.
Admittedly, though, it is really hard to trust somebody whom you’ve never even met. After all, it is one of the first lessons we were taught, which is not to trust strangers. As we grow older, we know this isn’t true all the time, but a bit of the nugget of wisdom stays with us to this day.
So, what is the process of trusting someone? Well, it can be summed up in three steps.
It’s an established fact that you need to get to know a person before you’re able to work with them properly. This is why interviews are so important, as people don’t hire employees because of just their skills, but because the applicant is someone who fits in with the company’s goals.
After getting to know somebody, you will see some of their traits that endear them to you. You start to like their work ethic, and some other minor details that you wouldn’t have noticed had you not gotten to know the person.
When you finally like the person working for you, then you will find yourself trusting them a bit more. You start handing them bigger projects, relying them to complete more tasks, and all-in-all just be confident in the fact they’ll finish the job you gave to them.
It might seem easy when written down like this, but following through these three steps in real life might not come as easily to some. Here, we lay down some things you need to keep in mind when you want to build trust with your remote employees and work around some situations which can be difficult at first.
Truth be told, they will also apply to in-house employees as well. But we’re also going to suggest some software to help the relationship along.
- Communication is key
Good communication skills are key to success in life, work and relationships. Communication plays an important role in building trust between you and your VA’s.
It might seem like a no-brainer (and to be honest, it kind of is) but it should still be acknowledged that without a proper way of communicating, then your working relationship won’t work out. You need to be able to freely communicate with your employee, preferably just as easily as you are able to talk to an employee in the office.
There are various instant messaging platforms you can make use of. You can make use of these real-time communication software to easily talk to your remote employee, and this will help close the gap between the miles separating you from your VA.
- Safekeeping passwords and logins
It always depends on the kind of industry you work in, but when you make use of your VA to book plane tickets, or make online purchases for the company, they will need access to some sensitive information.
Now this kind of access is something which shouldn’t be given freely and easily. However, there are times when the situation simply calls for it. Luckily, there are certain password management software applications that you can make use of.
Some software applications even track when a password was used, for what, and where the location of the usage happened. This is especially helpful for tracking your remote employee’s use of your logins.
- Respect the different time zones
When you’re working with a virtual assistant who resides in a different time zone, there needs to be a lot of planning involved to make sure you can cover all the bases. A lot of companies make use of VAs in different time zones, especially if they operate a 24/7 business.
The best way to handle this would be to come up with an agreed upon time that benefits both of you. In order to keep proper track, make use of a shared calendar so there would be no confusion regarding times and dates.
- Keeping track of tasks
Another thing companies can have trouble with is keeping track of the work their virtual assistants actually do. If they were required to only submit a daily output, it wouldn’t be as difficult; but what if they were working on something long-term, or on multiple, differing tasks?
The best way to work around this is to make full use of a task management system. These types of software usually have a dashboard wherein you can assign different tasks to different employees, or in this case, a virtual assistant.
Another upside to this is fostering a sense of accountability. Since their progress on tasks is easily visible, VAs will be more inclined to finish tasks expediently, and it also builds a sense of trust in the employee if they are able to finish their job ahead of schedule.
- File collaboration
Data is something which every business needs to handle with care. No single employee should have total access to everything, only the things they need in order to perform their jobs properly. When your VAs need a certain level of access, it’s normal for some people to be hesitant at first.
A great way to assuage your apprehension is to make use of file-sharing software and cloud-based websites. These platforms will usually be able to allow easy restrictions, allowing you to limit what your VAs will be able to access.
If worse comes to worst, everything will also be backed up, so nothing will technically be “lost.”
- Tracking what the virtual assistant is doing
One thing a lot of employers think of as a workaround for the issue of trust is the usage of screen monitoring tools, also known as “spyware.” Despite using this in order to try and increase their trust in their VA, this might actually be blocking the way to trust.
If you monitor every move your VA makes, this will make them feel you are watching over their shoulder the whole time, which makes it hard for them to completely relax and do their jobs. Instead, why not use tools which allow your VA to share results without actually seeing what the screen is doing?
Make use of time-tracking tools as well if you still want to be assured they’re doing what you’re paying them to do. But when you reach the level of trust where you are comfortable in not relying on these kinds of tools, then forgo using them altogether because you will have finally built the trust you were working towards.
In the end, the one thing that allows you to trust your VA is time. Being able to say you trust your virtual assistant won’t be an overnight thing, and it shouldn’t be either. As the old adage goes, trust is earned, not given.
Rely on the process we laid out, and make use of some of the tools we suggested. You will find yourself having a trustworthy employee sooner rather than later, and will experience the benefits of having a loyal, trusted virtual assistant.