Thanks to the Internet, global businesses can now do real-time updates of events and deals that happen across the globe. Compared to the days of telegrams and rotary phones, it has now become far easier to reach out to colleagues in varying time zones with the proliferation of email and instant messaging platforms. The connected world has opened up businesses into the idea of outsourcing key office functions to teams abroad. Outsourcing is a valid option for businesses to minimize cost, maximize time, and gain access to experts in various fields.
Outsourced virtual assistants are among those professionals most sought after across many industries. They are skilled in basic and advanced adminstrative, creative, and technical office work. While they are easy to find and contact, it can still be quite a challenge to establish a team that can work well with minimal supervision.
Here are some best practices and tips to help you manage your own team of virtual assistants:
Emphasize the value of time.
Procrastination is a real problem for many professionals; virtual assistants are no exceptions. It is easier to be productive if minds and bodies are used to working at a given place and time. As such, it's important to set an allotted time for working, even when outside the office setting. Ask your team members to commit to regular shifts and track these using Web-based time-tracking systems like the Freelancer Desktop App, SlimTimer or RescueTime.
You can also inspire your team members to take a few minutes every morning to create checklists of all the tasks they need to finish during their shift and set the duration for each in a day. Doing so conditions the mind on the time it takes to do a certain task, thus helping maximize productivity on every shift.
Establish a social presence.
It's hard enough to work with a team outside the office setting, and it's even more difficult when it's done only via email. One way to build a sense of unity for your team is by running an active social office. You can do this by enrolling every member in a cloud-based project management and collaboration software or application, such as Basecamp, Bitrix24, Asana, Trello, or Insightly to stay on top of tasks.
Build dynamic protocols.
Before sending out tasks to each member, create a document for office protocols that you can easily modify and share. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and are aware of your terms. In case of a time difference, this can also ensure that team members follow the same flow and hand over complete tasks without the need for constant prodding.
Take advantage of cloud sharing, storage, and synchronization technologies.
Since you are working with a remote team, there are times when you may experience connection and contact issues. To minimize risks of losing files during these circumstances, have your team upload corporate data onto trusted and private cloud services that you have chosen. Most cloud services today are adept at saving files in real time, providing your team with the most updated files on hand in case of connection issues. You can also set up varying passwords and access levels to avoid tampering of files.
Monitor and boost morale.
Lastly, remember that you are dealing with a wide range of people, and the virtual component is only one aspect of managing them. Boosting their morale can still go a long way into making sure that they maintain their passion for what they do. You can do this by running daily mental or social challenges that inspire interaction.
Note that a simple discussion on a recent episode of a popular series, a short comment about their favorite book, or a photo-sharing session of recent vacations can actually go a long way towards developing a healthy professional connection that lasts.
Developing a team of virtual assistants can greatly benefit your business if you know how to manage one properly. Take note of these best practices to ensure a successful outsourcing relationship with your team.