4 Tips to Help You Prepare for Working With a Virtual Assistant

By Deena Anreise | Updated: 09 Feb, 2017

Hiring a virtual assistant can be very difficult if you use an online marketplace because you have to weed through hundreds if not thousands of freelance remote assistants. Typically, they aren't vetted by anyone, so you must take time out of your already busy schedule to sift through your choices.

Your criteria to decide who you'd like to work with can be daunting, and marketplaces leave it up to you to find the right fit. Many executives and founders give up quickly because it's just too much work.

Can you afford to work with a lone virtual assistant who has no backup in case they're out sick, on vacation, or just dropping the ball? Will you be checking references yourself? Will you be conducting all the interviews? Can you set aside 5 to 10 hours a week (indefinitely) to find, hire, onboard, train, and manage a remote assistant? 

More to the point: isn't a lack of time why you need to hire a virtual assistant in the first place? Many executives and founders give up their search fairly quickly, because it's just too much work.

However, using a managed service provider to do everything for you takes the pain, frustration, and time out of the process. Managed service providers are not marketplaces made up of freelance remote workers. Rather, they are comprised of employees who are overseen by project managers (we call them Engagement Managers) and direct supervisors. They always staff backup assistants so your workflow is never interrupted, and they vet, train, and manage your remote assistant (their employee) on the best practices and processes that executives and founders need on a daily basis.

Here are a few aspects of screening and hiring a virtual executive assistant that some say you must deal with, but that isn't necessary when using a managed service provider:

  • Confirm that they understand the pay rate and the hours they’ll work.
  • Tell them about you and what you’re up to in your business.
  • What are their other commitments?
  • How long were they at their previous job, and why did they leave?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Do they have a family?
  • How do they handle difficult situations?
  • What do they do when they have questions or don't know how to complete a task?
  • Why do they want this job?

Doesn't it sound refreshing to hand everything over to a managed service provider?

This article functions as a guide to help you prepare for working with a virtual assistant from a managed service provider that will inherently make it easier and faster to onboard and start working with a virtual administrative assistant

When you outsource routine, repeatable tasks to a virtual executive assistant, you buy yourself time to accomplish tasks that only you can accomplish.

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With a managed service, hiring a virtual administrative assistant becomes an overnight process that starts as soon as you're readyBut before you begin, here are a few things you must do in order to be ready to work effectively with your remote assistant. 

1. Establish your workflow

At Prialto, we ask every potential client (whom we call members) to fill out an online Needs Analysis Survey. This survey helps our project managers identify the tasks in your workflow that your virtual administrative assistant will take off your plate.

Since all of our assistants are educated individuals who are hired and trained to be virtual executive assistants, there's no need to figure out which assistant to pair you with. No matter who you get, they'll be the best option.  

The Needs Analysis Survey also helps establish your preferred communication methods, support hours needed, time zone, current tasks to be delegated, future tasks to consider, and map out your overall administrative process.

If there are gaps or needs in your systems and processes, our Engagement Managers step in as knowledge partners to help create and manage enhanced workflows that will move your business forward.  

2. Create solid systems

Once you've taken the survey, our team puts together a personalized Implementation Plan that maps out how your dedicated virtual administrative assistant can support you best.

If you don't already have systems in place that you've mastered, that's okay. Our Engagement Managers are your source of systems creation. They can devise a training program and document everything in your unique Member Manual, which is located in a secure internal wiki.

We use this wiki to train your backup assistant should your dedicated, primary assistant ever be unavailable due to sickness, vacation, or whatever else that may happen. You are always covered.

If you already have systems in place, all the better! We can hit the ground running even faster. And if you've written a training manual that details a process, you are truly a rock star!

3. Use Remote collaboration tools

Since a virtual administrative assistant is a remote worker, our team uses remote collaboration tools (like Jitsi and Skype) to communicate with members for Onboarding Calls and afterward. Obviously, we use email as our preferred method of checking in with members, since everything can be documented better that way. But there are other means of giving instructions, asking questions, and responding to issues in real-time. Slack is an incredible online collaboration tool that many companies have adopted. Don't use Slack? No worries. Our team is familiar with using alternatives to Slack, and setting you up on whatever tools you prefer to use. 

We also collaborate via cloud storage services, and can even help you choose the right cloud-based service provider if you'd like. At the end of the day, we make effective collaboration simple. We use the best most reliable tools and are always ready and able to help members harness the capabilities of remote collaboration.

4. Check-in Daily 

Every day, each of our virtual administrative assistants sends their members a Prialto Daily Review via email. This review provides a daily breakdown of the tasks your dedicated remote assistant has accomplished on your behalf.

All you have to do is browse the brief email. If there are issues or if you have questions, shoot your virtual administrative assistant a reply email. If you'd prefer to deal with your Engagement Manager, email them with anything from updated instructions that will further streamline your processes and tasks to clarifying expectations to canceling a task altogether and replacing it with another.

If everything looks great and you're satisfied with your assistant's progress, you can choose to rate their service or simply do nothing at all. We know you're busy, so we take as much as possible off your plate.

The Prialto Daily Review email is a great way for you to assess your future needs, and to decide what additional tasks you'd like to delegate.   

There are many benefits of outsourcing your repeatable, routine tasks. We have no doubt that you will benefit from outsourcing administrative and back-office tasks to a managed, dedicated virtual assistant who is trained to handle your specific tasks. If you aren't a great communicator due to time or personality, that's okay! We've got your back. 

Working with a virtual administrative assistant is all about the long-term, so don't give up if it seems difficult or overwhelming at the onset. If you hang in there, you'll soon be more productive and better able to compete in your industry.

Amplify your productivity with 2022's top virtual assistant service.