How to choose the best remote working tools when hiring a Virtual Assistant

Viitual PA

More business owners than ever before are hiring a Virtual Assistant, yet it’s important to choose suitable remote working tools to ensure the relationship really takes off.

With a global recession looming and the ever-increasing pace of technological change meaning that slow adaptors are heading to the wall, it’s no wonder so many small business owners value the many benefits offered by remote working and a more flexible, lean approach to finding new team members.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant – an experienced right hand man or woman who works remotely from you – is an affordable and convenient way to access the skills your business needs to grow. It’s also the perfect way to open up a way for you to delegate the tasks you no longer have time to do, without dealing with HR paperwork, employment contracts or finding an office space.

But working remotely presents new challenges to a growing team; it’s not always the best idea to rely on email alone if you want to get maximum value out of your new virtual team member.

Fortunately, there are countless software solutions available and, with research and prior planning, it’s simple to get the right remote working tools in place. That way you’ll be able to work with your new Virtual Assistant both efficiently andenjoyably!

Software solutions to explore

If you’re used to working on your own or have spent much of your career in an office-based environment, you might not have given the software tools you use very much thought. They’re just, there. Click a button and away you go! But when you have a team to manage and those people need to help run your business from their own home office many miles away, it’s important to ensure you give it some thought.

Areas to pay close attention to include:

  • Cloud storage. How will you share documents with each other? It’s best to look for a solution that will prevent you from creating multiple versions of the same document in the same folder.
  • Collaborative working. Similarly, instead of passing different document versions between each other, why not look for a solution that will allow you to share a live document? Cloud-based solutions such as Google’s G Suite will allow you to work on a document, presentation or spreadsheet, at the same time, together. Plus, as any recipients you send the document to don’t need to have Microsoft Office or Mac’s iWork range installed to open it, it’s often a simpler way to share the finished product.
  • Email and calendar. Will your Virtual Assistant need access to your inbox? Sharing your login details means you lose control and can be overly simplistic. A solution that allows you to ‘delegate’ your inbox to another user – without needing to share your password – is a better idea. Similarly, can you grant edit access to your calendar?
  • Communication. Is email still the most efficient solution for you? Many business owners prefer to use Slack or WhatsApp to communicate without the need for long email chains.
  • Bookkeeping and billing. Likewise, where do you store your financial information? Most accounting software solutions today are cloud-based and will allow you to grant access to the areas of the app your new Virtual Assistant needs to use – the ability to raise an invoice or reconcile your bank transactions, for example.
  • Sales CRM. One of the last areas to focus on would be the solution you use to store customer information. If they are dealing with sales enquiries, for example, how will your new Virtual Assistant know who to contact and where do they make a note to say what they discussed? A cloud-based CRM will be more efficient than relying on Excel spreadsheets or an antiquated local database.

Criteria to keep in mind

Take some time to think through every area of your business that you are hiring a Virtual Assistant to help you with. From processing invoices and replying to new customer enquiries, through to managing your diary and filing documents.

Check the software solution will:

  • Allow you to create a new user account and configure any relevant user privileges needed.
  • Permit you to work together efficiently. The solution should save you both time, not slow things down or get in the way. Is it fit for purpose or are you making too large a compromise?
  • Be affordable. Sure, the software might work well, but if it is going to cost you a small fortune to use it, it quite literally pays to ensure that you are getting a good deal. Is the solution cost-effective or are you being ripped off?
  • Be secure. Is any data you store in the software going to be adequately safeguarded? If you have questions over the way any data is transferred or stored, find a company that pays more attention to this vital area.

In summary

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is increasingly popular with small business owners, but it’s far too easy to jump into the relationship and quickly become frustrated because you’re processes are reliant on outdated software solutions.

First, take a little time to ensure you and your business are geared up for a remote relationship. The right remote working tools – chosen for their ease of use, affordability and list of features – will make a noticeable difference!

This article was provided by Virtalent, the UK-based Virtual Assistant service. Virtalent’s team of experienced Virtual Assistants offer both Virtual PA services and digital marketing support, to a client base of ambitious small business owners. For more information please visit the Virtalent website.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash