7 Mistakes People Make When Working With Virtual Assistants and Remote Teams

By Annie Andre | Updated: 03 Apr, 2015

Who doesn't love a good practical joke or prank once in a while, especially at the office? 

According to research conducted by The Harris Poll, a whopping one third of American adults plan to play a practical joke or prank on April Fools’ day, and 64% of those pranksters consider co-workers fair game as targets for their office shenanigans.

But what if your employee or co-worker works remotely, like a virtual assistant?

An innocent practical joke on a co-worker who works remotely might in fact be disruptive and backfire on you.


Simply because playing a joke on someone who works remotely is a little more complicated than pranking someone in the next office or cube, such as putting Vaseline on their phone receiver or tape over the bottom their optical mouse - fun pranks that are harmless. 

Harmless that is until that innocent office prank goes horribly wrong.

Unfortunately, like a practical joke gone wrong, many people unintentionally do things that are counter-productive for remote staff.

Some of the folks here at Prialto, a managed virtual assistant service for executives, came up with a list of common mistakes people often make when working with remote workers like a VA.

Mistakes which after the fact might seem like a bad joke.

1. At the last minute, tell your VA you will be out-of-office for a month

Many VA’s manage calendars and do scheduling, so what better way to send them into a panic than to inform them you will be gone during a time when you are already booked solid with back to back meetings?

2. Change the password to your shared email calendar so your VA can’t access or update it

This one dovetails with the previous mistake. If managing your meetings and your calendar is part of your assistants's job, than blocking access to your shared email account is akin to locking them out of the office.  

3. Tell your remote personal assistant that you are adopting a new CRM for the third time

Some personal assistants who work remotely spend a considerable amount of time becoming experts in a particular CRM system. Announcing you are planning to switch to a totally new CRM, yet again is like asking them to learn a new language, doable just time consuming and daunting.

4. Not keeping communication consistent; Skype one day, chat the next followed by phone calls and emails

Clear and consistent communication between you and your remote assistant is extremely important - especially how you communicate with each other. Do you talk over Skype? Always use email? Prefer a chat app? 

Tinkering with and constantly changing the method of communication is not only inefficient but is counterproductive to your working relationship. When working at a distance, try to keep the method of communication simple and consistant so your remote staff doesn't have to spend time guessing which line of communication you plan to use this week. 

5. Send your remote team an urgent email with vague instructions for a project that needs to get completed A.S.A.P.

It goes without saying that any task you give your staff should be detailed and assigned a reasonable amount of time for completion. Anything less could result in a task not completed as expected, a frustrated you and a frustrated remote employee. 

6. Ask your virtual assistant if they finished “That extremely important report” that you maybe asked them to do

Asking your virtual assistant to produce something that you thought you asked them to do, but maybe didn't, is a sign you need to stay more organized and do a better job of keeping track of projects. Doing so will help keep your VA on track and avoid embarrassing moments of work related amnesia. 

7. Replace or move all your online shared documents and spreadsheets without telling your virtual assistant

Many companies use the cloud and online document sharing to collaborate and work with remote workers and virtual assistants. Imagine their surprise when they go to that online expense report they were working on, only to find that all their hard work is missing or worse- wiped out.

Best Practices

Remote teams and virtual assistants can be an integral part of your business if you follow some best practices.  Here are some related articles which will help anyone interested in working with someone remotely. 

“This article was originally posted by Prialto: The Virtual Support Service for Executives. Prialto Virtual Assistants are geared to actually pull your business forward and make delegating easy”