Working from home has its benefits, but it’s not all smooth sailing. Whether you’re trying to keep kids occupied while working full time or wrangle a large team via video chat, one thing we could all use is an assistant. But with a global pandemic, it’s not wise to add a person to your cramped quarters. Enter the socially distant virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants can handle things you don’t have time for or don’t know how to handle. They can work remotely on administrative tasks, handle your social media, and even do the banking bits you hate. You can easily find one through a service, but there are some things to know and gather together before you commit.
Figure Out What You Need
The first thing to do is to draw up a list of everything you do and how long it takes. Determine what you can hand off and how much time it would save you. From that list, prioritize each task. You now have the bones of a job description and an estimate for how many hours per week you would need an assistant.
Write up a full description that includes the responsibilities, the level of experience required, and how frequently and for how long you would need a virtual assistant’s services.
Decide on a Budget
When it comes to hiring someone to help you with work, time really is money. Add up how much of your time is spent on things you could hand off and how much you could be earning if you weren’t the one accomplishing them.
Then research how much virtual assistants charge for the tasks you need done. There is a huge range when it comes to how much virtual assistants charge, with quality, experience, and responsibilities all major factors. Consider what skills you employ and how much expertise you need to complete the assignments you’re now handing off, and look into how much an assistant who matches those requirements charges.
Once you’ve done your research, you can calculate how much you’ll save from having a virtual assistant, what level of support you need, and thus how much you can afford to spend.
Where to Look
There are several services that let you search for and hire virtual assistants. Some handle nearly the entire process for you and others are conduits to finding freelancers.
In the first category are sites like Upwork, where you can post your job description, browse candidates, set up interviews, manage work, and set up payment. Upwork isn’t limited to virtual assistants and you can find freelancers in many fields. Fiverr similarly has freelancers for hire and is a good place to advertise for and find a virtual assistant. You can either search through listings to see if someone’s experience matches what you need or post a job description of your own. Fiverr lets you pay for services through the site.
Since you’re looking for an assistant, speed might be of the essence and to that end, there are sites that select virtual assistants for you. Zirtual matches you to an assistant when you subscribe to one of its four levels of service. Time Etc. also handles the pairing for you and has plans based on how many hours of help you require. Its assistants have five or more years of experience. Belay puts you together with not just virtual assistants, but bookkeepers, web specialists, and social media strategists as well.
Conduct a Remote Interview
If you’re using a site like Upwork or Fiverr, where you have more than one candidate, you’ll want to set up interviews. Once you have a few of them, ideally three to five, set up a video or phone chat to see if they seem like a match. Some questions you may want to ask are what sort of projects they have experience with, what their skills are, how many hours they have to devote to the work, what their communication style is like, and what sort of work they enjoy. Also ask for and contact each candidate’s references.
Create a Task Test
Before you hand off all your work to a virtual assistant, give them one job to handle and see how it goes. This pertains whether you’ve let a service match you to a virtual assistant or if you’ve chosen one yourself from a field of candidates.
The first task you assign should be representative of the bulk of the work you’ll need a virtual assistant to handle. Lay out your expectations, including how often you expect to communicate and how, and set a reasonable deadline.
If all goes well, you’re on your way to have more free time in your day and still have all the space in your office to yourself.
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