Hopefully your new virtual office assistant doesn’t look quite as cheesy as any of the new kids on the block to the left, but if he does, you have a major stroke of luck in that you won’t have to see him in the office every morning!
Whatever your remote assistant looks like, it’s important to welcome them to the team , set their expectations correctly and to give them everything they need to deliver what you need, so here’s the start of an induction checklist you can work by.
Many of the problems we see between companies and their virtual assistants stem from a mis-match of expectations. The remote staffer may be thinking he or she’s going to get 20 hours work per week and becomes frustrated at clocking only 5 hours. The employer is wondering why he can’t contact the VA as agreed at 5pm everyday.
These types of problems can be avoided if both the employer and the VA discuss expectations at the very start of the relationship. The first box to tick on the induction checklist, after the successful interview, is for the employer to introduce the culture of the company to the virtual office assistant. This may be in the form of documentation initially, sent through to explain what is expected of the employees in terms of behavior and what the employee can expect in return from the company: it’s a 2-way process and it may mention things like honesty, integrity, punctuality, reliability etc. It should also provide a realistic expectation of working hours to be clocked and should introduce concepts like the Start of Day (SOD) calls and End of Day (EOD) emails and how to resolve problems and mistakes that inevitably will occur.
After being given time to digest this, the next box to tick on this orientation checklist is the Skype call to make sure that everything in the documentation is clear, to go over expectations again and make sure there are no “grey” areas of potential misunderstanding. It’s also a good opportunity for the new remote assistant to ask questions, clarify any uncertainties or misgivings they have and raise any points that have not been covered.
Once the culture of the company has been communicated, the online induction then moves to introducing the new assistant to his or her supervisor who can take the reigns from there.
Depending on the company set up the supervisor may encourage the new team member to submit a bio on the Team Members or About Us page of the web site. This will help the new remote assistant to feel part of the family and will also help your business seem more credible in that it shows you have real people working for you – alleviating any lack of confidence a new client may have in believing that you can deliver what you say you can. Nowadays there should be no negative feedback about the fact that you outsource work as this is becoming more commonplace in the globalized world we live in.
This is far from the complete New Kid on the Block scenario. In fact we’ve really only heard the first verse and chorus! If you want to know what else to include on your induction checklist for your new virtual office assistant, then get a copy of the DVD of The Outsourcing Profit Machine.
Great tip especially for those who are thinking about outsourcing their work anytime soon. Even if the VAs will be working on most of the task for their employers, it will be a great help if there’s already a system in place right before the VA starts working for them.
I wonder if other virtual offices are doing the same (when it comes to welcoming the new member to the team), but it will be better if other virtual employers will take a hint and do the same thing whenever a new VA comes in. 🙂
The expectation setting session is one of the most important parts of staff orientation. From the very beginning it’s crucial to let staff members know exactly what’s expected of them everyday. Working with virtual staff can get potentially difficult just because of the lack of communication about expectations.
Putting employee-employer expectations in to writing is really important. It serves as a guideline for both parties through the course of the work relationship. Sometimes, a VA tends to lose track of what’s expected of him for the day, having a document to turn to can keep him updated.
The Skype call is a great piece of advice too. This a good way for an offshore employee to confirm if he understands each task correctly. More so, it adds personal touch. Talking to a supervisor online makes him feel assured that he works with real people in a real company set-up.