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Technical Support Virtual Assistant Support Archives - IdeasUnlimited

Tips for Ensuring Your Virtual Assistants Do Not Slack Off

By | Administrative Support, Backend Support Services, Marketing Virtual Assistant, Medical Virtual Assistant, Multilingual Support, Real Estate Virtual Assistant, Receptionist Service, Technical Support, Virtual Assistant, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Originally posted as an answer on Quora for If you have multiple virtual assistants across multiple businesses, how can you be sure that they are not slacking off?

Answer by Shakira, Operations Manager – Project and Growth, IdeasUnlimited

shakira@osbprovider.com

Hiring a virtual assistant to provide administrative support, marketing support, technical support, or any other kind of support services required by your business requires a strong trust-based relationship, more so than hiring an in-house worker. Hiring multiple virtual assistants across multiple businesses compounds the need for a mechanism for building and maintaining this trust in the remote workforce.

The strategies and tools for ensuring they are not slacking off depend on the type of virtual assistant you have hired:

  1. Dedicated

Is the virtual assistant supposed to set aside designated hours for your project or business? Go for this type of virtual assistant if you need assistance with a high volume of meticulous work in certain hours of the day or if a project is time sensitive.

  1. Flexible

Do you want the virtual assistant to complete the set tasks by a certain deadline but work any hours that suit him/her? Most design and web development projects lend towards this type of virtual assistant as do multilingual transcription services and translation of audio files. For such a virtual assistant, your criterion for judging performance and, hence, whether he/she is slacking off will be the quality of work delivered.

  1. Shared

Does the virtual assistant work for you in set hours shared with other projects? Shared hours would be perfect for you if you need virtual PA services or other support services to cover certain hours.

Tips for ensuring your virtual assistants do not slack off

  • Communicate Objectives, Expectations, and Deadlines Clearly: A good virtual assistant needs clear communication of goals, responsibilities, and timelines to deliver results. Once you communicate all three at the beginning of the project, both of you will know how the work is supposed to be carried out. This ensures the virtual assistants do not slack off since they are aware of what results they need to deliver by a particular date.
  • Use a Time Tracker and Productivity Management Software:This creates a transparent process wherein you can see activity levels, app and URL usage, attendance, etc. It will also motivate the virtual assistant to give their 100% to the task since screenshots and the reports generated ensure productivity levels stay high.
  • Set Up a Project Management Mechanism:Take some time out of your schedule or hire a project manager to keep an eye on the project’s progress. This will keep you in the loop, ensure that objectives are being met, and proactively identify any problem areas that can be corrected before they derail the project. This will be the most important tool for managing flexible virtual assistants.
  • Hire Proficient Virtual Assistants from a Professional Support Services ProviderSince you would be hiring from a firm that professionally recruits and places virtual assistants, you’ll be assured of a wider range of highly qualified and reliable candidates who can assist you in a wide range of tasks and businesses. In addition, to build client loyalty, the firm will handle project management as well as the administrative aspect such as payroll processing, and will also monitor the remote team for you. You can simply focus on growing your business by assigning tasks to them. The firm will even take care of initial and ongoing training of the virtual assistants for you. This also reduces the risk of hiring a stranger to assist you in your business since the support services provider will be responsible for finding and retaining virtual assistants, freeing you from that hassle.
  • Give Incentives to Improve Productivity:Like any other workers, virtual assistants will also perform better when offered the correct incentives. Setting up a reward or bonus scheme for performance par excellence will encourage the virtual assistants to complete their tasks on time and to the best of their abilities. This will be most apt for a dedicated virtual assistant since you need to keep their motivation levels high for regular stretches of time and they provide the greatest range of support services.

Use these simple tips to ensure your virtual assistants do not slack off and you get quality work on time. Please comment down below if you have any questions or suggestions.

Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management software applications have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective software applications:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project NameDeadlineTasks to be PerformedContact PersonContact InformationAccess Details
AccountPassword
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.