Four tips for working with virtual staff.

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Working with a virtual staff (remote employees) and virtual offices has become popular in the business world. It’s been shown to lead to increased productivity and even saves time and money for both employees and businesses. And with accessible technology, like Google Drive and Skype, it’s easier than ever for employees to stay connected anywhere they are and everywhere they go. So what’s the catch?

There is none. Just a few differences to consider when working with a virtual staff (assistants and receptionists) to guarantee success.

Virtual Employees: Assistants & Receptionists (the differences)

Among remote employees are virtual receptionists and virtual assistants. Though both work off-site and assist in helping run the business more smoothly, virtual receptionists specify in creating a pleasant experience for callers. They focus on making a great impression and standing out from the rest of the competition.

Virtual assistants are either software agents or professionals. When it comes to the occupation, virtual assistants provide professional, technical and creative assistance to clients (they’re more like freelance agents and independent contractors.) Software agents perform tasks and services for individuals. They’re chat bots like Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana.

So whether you’re thinking about hiring virtual employees or are already managing a remote team, our tips with the help you adapt and succeed in the new modern business world!

Provide great training. 

If you have (had) in-house employees, you probably relied on the good old “watch and learn” mentality when it came to training. With remote workers, it’s a little different.

Virtual employees train on-site, but they’re also trained through a series of documents, video, and meetings through online means. It can be daunting at first due to the time constraints, but don’t fret! –it’s a small investment with big returns.

Also, make sure your remote staff keeps up with the recording and updating of all your processes. Eventually, they’ll be able to work through the onboarding and training process on their own!

Set them up for success. 

Once you’ve established trust with your remote team, set some time aside to grant them access to every system or network you think they may need.

Have an internal drive? Get them remote access through programs like Microsoft Remote Desktop or LogMeIn. Think they may need into your Dropbox, or social media? Do it now. You’ll thank yourself when you don’t have to keep stopping your work to allow access.

Doing this at the beginning of your working relationship prevents time-sucks down the road and helps you both stay organized.

Trust them(!). 

You hired your remote staff for a reason. You may feel completely overworked or overwhelmed, so let your remote staff truly take that burden from you.

Take a few weeks to get to know your virtual employee and build trust. Once you’ve gotten to a point where both of you are comfortable, give them autonomy. Let them make decisions by themselves and make it clear that they can proceed on certain tasks without asking for permission (which can save you a lot of precious time!) This is super important for your remote over in-house staff, as getting permission requires an electronic communication and response, vs. a quick trip to your office to get the “OK.”

And if your remote employees are performing well and producing great results, make it clear that you appreciate their effort. Which leads into the next point…

Make them feel like part of the team. 

Be sure your remote staff feels like they’re part of your team. They’re more likely to get invested in the work if they feel connected to your business. Celebrate their successes, make time for face-to-face interaction through video conferencing, recognize their efforts publicly—anything you can do to build a personal relationship with your remote employee will go a long way.

Personally, I love working from home because I still feel connected to the company’s team and culture. I get to know my fellow co-workers through Skype and Slack, I get weekly updates on what the company is up to, and I get greeting cards on almost every holiday. These small things have helped build a healthy and productive environment for me as a remote worker. And in turn, gets me excited to help propel our business forward each day.

Remember that remote staff can do a lot of wonderful things for your business. But it’s up to you as an employer to get them the opportunity!

Bonus:

If you’re nervous and don’t really know how to get started, find an experienced remote employee. They’ll be able to guide you through the processes and transitions. It will take time in the beginning but the result will be a huge payoff for you and your business in the long run (in productivity, time saved, costs, and reduced stress.)

Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager for Boldly, a premium virtual assistant company that matches talented, dedicated VA’s to demanding founders and executives. She enjoys working remotely from gorgeous Colorado Springs, CO.

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