No responses to your emails.
Work hours don’t match up.
Long response times.
Sounding familiar so far?
One of the hurdles many business owners struggle with when taking on virtual staff is the issue of “handling” their virtual team. With thousands of kilometers and several time zones separating you from your team, managing everyone effectively can be challenging… especially if you go in without a plan!
As a provider of outsourcing solutions, we’ve helped many small and medium businesses take unnecessary business functions off their hands. We’ve seen how different businesses handle their virtual staff – some better than others.
Here are just some of the tips and productivity hacks we’ve seen successful businesses use to get the most out of their virtual teams. If you’re struggling to get results with your virtual team, it might be worth giving some of these a try!
Tip #1: Agree to set working periods
While this arrangement works for most clients, it also comes with its own unique problems.
In our experience, far too many business owners take this as a sign that they don’t need to (or shouldn’t) make their virtual assistants adhere to standard office hours. Add time zones to the equation and you have a recipe for dysfunction and slow lines of communication – both of which can spell doom for any business.
Our advice? Set specific working hours for your virtual staff.
This way, your Australia-based team and your virtual staff are always able to reach each other, even with different time zones.
The result? Your staff members (virtual or otherwise) are on-the-clock at the same time. And that means when something pops up either here or over there, your team is able to get together and fix it as it happens instead of waiting!
Tip #2: Lay down the ground rules
While they might be based in a different continent, your virtual staff are still part of your business. As such, they need to follow the same rules and guidelines as your Australian staff.
Work in a virtual setup should be no different to that of office setting in terms of rules and regulations. Upon onboarding an employee, you should set work expectations, responsibilities, work rules and conduct just like in any other workforce setting.
It should be clear from the beginning that your staff are comfortable working from home. But working from home entails a full responsibility of frequent and proper communication as well as completing the required hours of work and work tasks available.
Tip #3: ditch email – use instant messaging and file-sharing instead
Anyone who’s ever been in a long-distance relationship knows that distance can be a killer.
And the same goes for your virtual staff!
Would you be okay with gaps of several minutes (or more, depending on how closely your virtual staff monitor their inboxes) in the middle of a conversation with your Australia-based staff? Of course not!
So why should you accept that when it comes to your virtual staff?
Instead of using email, use instant messaging, file sharing and virtual hang-outs to communicate with your virtual team. Free cloud-based software such as Dropbox lets every member of your team access the same files, while Google Hangouts offer a convenient way to host video conferences without installing any additional software.
And if you’re willing to shell out a little bit of extra money, software like Slack combines messaging, video chat, project management and file-sharing all in the one program.
Tip #4: Testing, testing, 1-2-3
When you take on any staff member, you want to make sure they’re competent. This is especially true if you’re hiring virtual staff to fill highly technical roles like IT functions.
Here’s an idea: why not implement a test for your virtual staff while you’re considering applicants?
Not only can you test for skills that come with the position you’re filling, but you can also take the opportunity to test for other skills – for starters, you’ll want staff with fluent English skills.
This might sound pretty basic, but in our experience, it’s something that many clients skip over. After all, it’s hard to have a productive team when part of it can’t even do their jobs!
If you need help vetting applicants for your virtual assistant role, you can always talk to a professional. At VirtualStaff365, we help with every stage of the recruitment process to find the most suitable outsourcing solutions.
We’re with you from sourcing all the way to onboarding candidates. If you need it, we can help you put together tests that will help you choose the most competent applicant for your business.
Tip #5: team-building with virtual staff
People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.
That’s what they say, at least. And for the most part, it’s completely true.
Building a team environment is one of the first things any management consultant will tell you to do. Not only does it improve loyalty, but it also makes your team actually feel like one!
When you have virtual staff as part of your team however, team-building can be… difficult. After all, it’s not like you can stroll over to the next desk and strike up a casual conversation!
When it comes to establishing team bonds, you need to get creative.
One thing you can do is conduct as much communication as possible through conference calls, allowing everyone to attach a voice and face to your virtual staff members. We already recommend business owners hold weekly catch-ups with their virtual teams – why not host it over Skype and bring in the rest of your team in as well?
Finally, consider organising semi-regular competitions to bring out everyone’s competitive streak. An online game of Uno or trivia can create useful rapport between staff members – just make sure you don’t let things get too out-of-hand!
Find the right partner for outsourcing solutions
Of course, just like any other staff member, you’ll need effective management skills to get the most out of your virtual team.
These are just some of the tricks our more successful clients have used to successfully integrate virtual staff and outsourcing solutions into their businesses.
But before you lay down the ground rules and the systems for managing your virtual team, you’ll want to make sure you get the right people for your business right off the bat.
And that’s where we come in!
VirtualStaff365 helps your business get its start in virtual staffing. Here’s how it works:
- You contact us for your job requirements
- We post, find, source and review the applicants
- You choose the best candidate
- We help you onboard and retain your virtual staffs
Sounds easy, right?