You have a Virtual Assistant, now what?

Cartoon image of virtual meeting

By Taylor Jo Oxley

If you read Evan Ringler’s blog post a few weeks ago you may have decided that now is the right time for your business to hire a Virtual Assistant. Congratulations! But now what? 

The first step is creating trust. As a person who has worked in and around the role of Virtual Assistant for six years, I know that the clients that I’ve had the most success with are the ones who have trusted me to do the job I’ve been hired for. My client Bre, Founder of Dr. G’s Lab, describes it best: “You’re not handing off tasks, you’re handing off trust”. What does that look like? I’ll show you. 

Provide insights as to why you do things the way you do. It is much more helpful than, “we’ve always done it this way”. If there are protocols that are in place and must be followed, make sure to communicate this and why. If there are processes that could be improved, make it known. A driven virtual assistant will want to help you streamline tasks making operations easier for everyone. Providing reasoning while also giving room for new ideas will show your new employee that you value their opinion and expertise. 

Be clear with your expectations. Everyone wants to be the cool, chill boss, but that doesn’t always set you up for success. Clear guidelines, deadlines, and communication are the key to a strong working relationship. It is easier for a VA to learn how to meet your expectations if you are firm on what you want from them. If you are a “no worries if not!” type of person you will need to learn how to ask directly for what you need. 

Know their schedule. Chances are that if you are hiring your first virtual assistant, you will have enough for them to do 40 hours per week. You can expect that most VA’s have other clients as well and may not be available to help you during certain times or days during the week. If you need your VA available during specific hours, make that a part of their contract. If your business is more flexible on when tasks can be completed, this may not be necessary. I usually have a conversation upfront about my schedule with any new clients. I then will add calendar reminders of times that I am not available if they ask me to do so. This small step helps manage expectations and timelines for everyone.

Set boundaries, and respect theirs. Along the same lines as knowing their schedules, it is important to set and respect boundaries with a VA. I have had clients who keep protected lunches, have school pick up for their kids, have weekly therapy times, and many other instances that I had to plan around. I knew that these things were all important to them and that I needed to respect those boundaries. Similarly, I have meetings with other clients, travel, and protected project times that I expect my client to respect. As an employer it is important to be aware of what boundaries are important to your VA, so that they will do the same for you.

Start off strong! How do you put these items above into action? The first step is the form below. I send this to my clients letting them know how I prefer to work and include a blank version for them to fill out as well. This helps to open the conversation for working together.

Working hours:Tuesday through Thursday: 9am-5pm
Friday: 10am-3pm
Weekends/Mondays: advance notice only
Preferred Contact Methods:Text: For quick answers to questions only
Email: To assign tasks, follow up on progress, share documents, request scheduling
Phone call: for emergencies only
Zoom call: pre-scheduled, can be used for any type of communication
Communication expectations:I expect responses to questions within 48 business hours
What is your most focused work time of the day?3pm-5pm
Do you have protected times for projects, lunches, child pick up, etc?8am-9am for daily dog walk, admin tasks
What is the least amount of advance time I can schedule a “last minute” meeting?3 days in advance
What is the communication expectation for your clients/customers?(ex: respond to emails within 24 business hours, return phone calls within 2 hours)
How do you prefer I contact/communicate with your clients/customers?(ex: email communication with me cc’d, however the client prefers to be communicated with)
Would you like to set up a daily/weekly time to meet and go over tasks/projects?Tuesday’s at 10:30 work great for a 30 minute meeting

These are just a few examples of how you can start to build trust with a virtual assistant. By showing them that you have firm expectations and boundaries, they will know what to expect from you and learn how to effectively work with you faster. Respecting their time, and the time they have set aside for their other clients will help to build a good rapport with your VA and make for a pleasant working relationship. 

Taylor Jo Oxley is an Administrative Specialist and fractional Director of Operations. She works with small businesses and entrepreneurs providing calendar and inbox coaching, strategic planning, and process development. 

  1. Bre Avatar

    This is an awesome form! As a founder, it’s important to think through those questions and set boundaries.

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