It isn’t always easy trying to find the right people to work for you. The best talents in the market are too expensive and often unavailable. Left to choose from the “rest”, you might have to deal with incompetence and instability issues. Hence many, and unsurprisingly so, look to outsource to a third party agency or engage a virtual assistant. However, this is easier said than done, as many have found out. From project delays to difficulty in communication- virtual assistants, especially offshore virtual assistants come with their own set of issues. Hence one needs to be mindful of the following while looking to hire a virtual assistant.
You must be wondering why I am marking this out to be the first point. Surely it dilutes the very idea of a virtual assistant since location is not supposed to matter. However, it does matter. If you are hiring a virtual assistant within US, then off course, it is a different proposition. However the trend has been to offshore such requirements due to budgetary concerns and this is where you need to choose carefully. Not all offshore destinations are conducive since some do not have the requisite talent pool, English proficiency and work culture required. When you are looking to hire a virtual assistant, India, Philippines, South Africa and Eastern Europe are best suited for your needs. Of these, India is the most popular and it corners more than half of the work outsourced globally, due to its huge talent pool, proficiency in English and devalued currency making prices the most competitive globally.
While the idea of virtual assistants can conjure up images of a freelancer working out of his/her home, the reality is different. Freelancers have been found to be a poor option, due to issues of professionalism, accountability and proper supervision. When you look to find virtual assistants in India or elsewhere, you should look to get into a partnership with a vendor or agency who can facilitate the process. However, not every vendor can ensure quality talents. Please do your research while deciding on these vendors. Check out what their clients have to say about them. It might also not be a bad idea to check out employee reviews on platforms like Glassdoor too, since your resource should be happy as well, since it will be the vendor who will employ the remote resource and you would definitely not want to be in a position where he/she leaves for no fault of your own. Hence employee reviews are important too.
So, once you have your virtual employee in place, there is the small business of making the arrangement work. Here are a couple of tips to ensure that.
The vendor you will chose will have its own supervisory system in place to ensure that your virtual employee is working properly and has all that he/she needs to carry out the required functions efficiently. However, since the employee will be reporting to you directly, it is important that you supervise and keep tabs yourself on a regular basis. This will give you a better control over the process and prevent your project from going too far off track. Also, just like any in-house employee, your remote employee will look up to you for guidance and leadership.
Too often, remote employees are treated as distant third parties and not part of the team. While it is understandable that their physical absence and their status as actual third parties might automatically lead to such an outlook towards them, it isn’t a healthy trend. Remember, for all practical purposes, your remote employee works for you and is part of your organization. Treating him/her at par with your in-house staff and making him/her a genuine part of the organization will go a long way in fostering a sense of loyalty and ownership in your remote employee. It will automatically result in a more responsible and proactive performance from your remote employee/s.
With cloud computing improving at the rate of a cheetah, remote employment will become the norm for businesses globally. In such a scenario, embracing the trend now will definitely give you the edge over your competitors, since you are getting an incredible cost and talent advantage. Make no mistake, your competition will eventually start following your lead soon. However by then you would be a veteran in handing remote teams and will have a distinct edge.