In the world of information technology, working is no longer confined by distance. In fact, because of the internet, many managers and business owners are beginning to appreciate the concept of virtual assistant or VAs. Virtual assistants are skilled workers who work at home through the internet and they can bring significant contributions to your business if you manage them well.

The great thing about using VAs is that you don’t need an office for them, which should save you a lot of money. But because they are working far from you, managing VAs is a little different from managing office workers. Here are some tips to help you bring the best out of your virtual assistants.

1. Be friendly but keep some distance.
As a manager, it is important to help maintain a harmonious relationship with your VA team. That means being friendly to your virtual assistants. Reach out and talk to them in a kind manner. If you plan to build a long-term work relationship with your VA, get to know them personally. Appreciate their work style and strengths. A harmonious and positive workplace is always more productive compared to a work environment with tension. Even if your VA’s only work online, tension can still manifest if you don’t treat them with kindness and respect.
However, being friendly does not mean you should let them cross the line between boss and employee relationship. You can still be friendly while being in control. By all means smile they greet you, but don’t forget that you are still the boss.

2. Always have an open line of communication.
Because they are working at home, you can’t readily talk to your VA’s like you do regular employees. You need a reliable chat or VOIP software that you keep open during work time for communication. If you are using Skype to communicate with your VA’s for example, make sure your Skype is open during work hours. This is to ensure that if they have questions, they can easily contact you. A VOIP and chat software are also important to maintain that office feeling for your VAs, which would drive them to be productive.
Additionally, always have regular meetings through chat or conference calls. This is to ensure that they can tell you if they are facing any problems relating to work and so that you can tell them your expectations.

3. Always check the progress of their work.
Unlike real offices where you can see if an employee is slacking off, it is difficult to know what virtual assistants have been doing, unless you keep them on video surveillance or ask them to log in to a time tracking software that takes screenshots as they work. As a manager, it is your responsibility to look after your contractors by checking their work progress. You can request for daily, weekly, or monthly updates. Tracking their progress will drive them to finish the task without being lazy.

4. Don’t withhold your praises or constructive criticisms.
One trait of a good leader and manager is that they know when to praise and when to criticize constructively. When your virtual assistant does a very good job, make sure you praise them to make them feel your appreciation. If a virtual assistant’s performance is below your expectations, let him know in a way that is objective and constructive. Explain why you are unhappy with his or her work. Relate it to the goals that you have set at the beginning of the project.

5. Pay on time.
The best way to keep your virtual assistants happy aside from praising their excellent work is by paying them on time. Paying promptly conveys professionalism, respect and appreciation for their work. It also builds trust, an important factor for building a thriving work relationship. When you pay on time, you will have loyal VAs who will do their best for you.
If you manage a team of virtual assistants, follow the tips above. Always be kind, but be strict when needed. Take time to communicate with them. Never hesitate to call them out for unsatisfactory performance and praise them for a job well done. When it comes to managing virtual assistants, maintaining professionalism by paying on time and treating workers with respect ensures a fruitful and long-term work relationship.

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