Most of you must have started either as a freelancer or as a single person working for establishing his/her business and thus, you had to put in a lot of working hours to survive. Probably your first few years must have gone working long hours and spending a lot of time to establishing your name and a client or customer base. But, with time your client-base or the workload is bound to expand and will then become a difficult job to manage with just two hands.
The increased load might demand a helping hand and thus, you can either search for some local staff working in front of your eyes and from the very same place as you work from. You will then be able to keep an eye over the employee and take the requisite work from him or her. Also, if your city has strict labor laws or it is very expensive to hire an employee at your place, you can search for some good Virtual Staffing firm which can provide and manage your virtual staff. This virtual staff can literally perform any sort of work you expect from him to writing emails to your client to managing your site or to do some other basic data entry jobs which frustrate you or consume your time.
This is a very comfortable state, as you do not have to pay for a rented office space or provide huge paychecks to the employee you hire and yet, all your works are being done with same efficiency and precision as you expected.
This sounds like real fun, but most of you will often be ready with a complaint-list after your first month with the virtual staff. Some might say, they were not able to fetch the expected results or some complaint that their staff is too lazy. But, often the fault is not theirs, but yours. The virtual assistants are nothing, but an employee (similar to that of a locally hired one), who can be trained according to your needs and thus, provide you with regular assistance as per your requirements. The employee can be a skilled person at several tasks and for other works, he can be trained.
This is where all of us fail to understand, a virtual assistant too needs time to learn new work or methods, time to adjust with the changed routine, thus, the first month should always be kept as the training period where you are always available to assist your employee.
It is right that you are not supposed to manage your virtual assistance and keep an eye on him or her, but it is a good practice to at least spend a month giving proper instructions, correcting his/her mistakes and instill the values in his way of working, so that after the first month he/she can handle your work in your absence as well.
Some key factors which are beneficial in getting the best out of your virtual staff are:
The ones who wish to manage their virtual employees can go for some good time management or project management solutions like Basecamp, CentralDesktop, etc. Initially, you can purchase some very basic software and later upgrade to complex applications. This software can then help you to define the work goals and delivery deadlines, help you assess the efficiency and thus, keep a better track of your virtual staff.
Free Tools: Skype or Gtalk
For those of you, who do not want to invest in high-end Project Management Solutions, can go for some free software like Skype or Gtalk.
Skype is used all over the globe by employers to interact or manage overseas staff. This software can thus be used to keep track of the person’s active working hours (can be done by monitoring the ‘Away’ or ‘Ideal’ status), also immediate conversation is possible, even Skype video and audio conversations are free of charge and very efficient.
There are times when you will have to either receive or send some file. This can be easily done using Skype and other file sharing software like Dropbox.
Using Dropbox you can sync the material you wish to share, this way you or your staff can anytime review the file and work accordingly. Unlike Skype, you do not need both people to stay on the line to transfer the file. In Syncing services like Dropbox, one person alone can sync it and then it can be seen by the other person any time he/she comes online.
Make Sure You Paying For the ‘Right Guy‘
Though the above mentioned things are very helpful in monitoring your virtual staff, still as the person is not available besides you in person, thus you should stay focused on the quality of job rather than the working time. It doesn’t matter how long the staff is active or not if in the end if he delivers the assigned work, then you feel elates as you are with the ‘Right Guy’.
Most of the time people are in search of a virtual staff who can work for some specific hours and thus, help them with the rigorous or less important chores.
Instead of hours, more focus should be laid on fetching high quality work with no directing body, the virtual employee should be able to deduce things on his own and work accordingly. Work deadlines can be set by the employer to keep up the efficiency, though these deadlines should be kept flexible according to the nature of work, time requirements, delays, etc.