“What is it like working with staff who are thousands of kilometres away?”
I get this question a lot.
A lot of financial advisers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and business owners enlist the services of virtual assistants these days.
Those who haven’t, are curious about what to expect. They worry that the cultural gap is too wide.
However, working with offshore staff is not complicated.
I’ve experienced so many benefits working with virtual assistants in the Philippines that I don’t mind not having an office and not having my staff physically around me.
In fact, I prefer it!
So, here’s what you should expect when working with virtual assistants from the Philippines.
1. Expect A Superstar
You’ll be working with a superstar staff member and this should be the minimum expectation!
If you approach it with low expectations, you won’t give enough time and effort into ensuring you hire the right person.
I’ve emphasised in previous blogs how important it is to take time in interviewing applicants and finding the best person for the role.
This way, you’ll invest time and energy training and developing staff who are dedicated to their work and produce results.
Put enough time and energy into your virtual assistant and you will get someone who will surpass your expectations.
They will be productive for 7.5 hours a day.
I know this because Time Doctor monitors the work being done!
Staff are focused on their tasks and output is maximised.
2. Expect to Treat Them Like They’re Right There with You
Sure they’re 4,000 kilometres away, but hear me out.
You should develop a great relationship with your virtual assistant. Say “good morning” and “good night”. Discuss the weekend, share a joke!
Your virtual assistant has likes, dislikes, interests, and personality traits. Get to know them as you would their Australian counterpart.
Heck, plan a working holiday! If at all possible, visit the Philippines.
Make an effort to understand how your virtual assistant lives. Get to know what day-to-day life looks like.
Understand the economic environment, the transport system, and everyday things that your Filipino staff experience that is different to Australia.
This should give you a glimpse of the world through their eyes.
Here’s a scenario:
Your virtual assistant tells you that they need to go to the bank and they’re gone for an hour.
You’d be frustrated right? As an Aussie, we’re used to being served in 5 minutes. Who needs an hour to go to the bank?
What you don’t know is that the lines are RIDICULOUSLY LONG at banks in the Philippines. I’m not kidding when I say that a bank queue goes out the door…. and around the corner.
Understanding how your staff live and getting to know them will give you a better perspective on how they work.
Embrace a personal connection.
3. Expect A Lot of Video Calls
Arrange video calls with your staff. In fact, it is my requirement that all new clients ONLY interact with their new virtual assistant teams via video conference for the first month.
I encourage clients to spend at least an hour during the morning for training and at least two half-hour sessions during the afternoon for Q and A when working with a new virtual assistant.
Whilst it can be done over the phone, video calls are more effective.
About 90% of communication is non-verbal (body language and tone), so how you present is actually more important than what you say.
I’ve spoken to virtual assistants who have misunderstood my message because they couldn’t see my face!
As soon as we started using video as the main tool, communication became much easier.
Lesson learnt: video call your virtual assistant through Skype and have face to face conversation as often as possible.
4. Expect to be More Productive
This is the biggest win when working with virtual assistants.
Previously when I had an office and lots of staff sitting nearby, I would get interrupted every 5 to 10 minutes with a question. I could go through a whole day and not finish a single 30 minute task because of never ending interruptions. When your momentum is disturbed, it usually takes a few minutes to get back into the groove.
I would go to a cafe or a park with my laptop, turn off my phone, and work there so I wouldn’t get distracted.
That was a crazy work set up, and I’m so glad I’ve moved on.
Thanks to my virtual assistants, I now work from home and help other business owners enjoy the same benefits.
I’m more productive and I’m happier! I have time to play with my son, exercise, read a book…
I know a lot of business owners who use our virtual assistant services also feel the same way.
5. Expect Fun
“There is little success where there is little laughter.”
– Andrew Carnegie (Entrepreneur)
Honestly, the fun and energy I’ve experienced from Filipino culture outweighs anything I’ve experienced in Australia.
We have breakfast in the office every morning, and I have staff who dance and sing while we’re eating!
They’re a fun and quirky bunch. You can feel their positive energy even through the computer screen.
This amazes me.
What is more amazing is how contagious it is. The positivity and liveliness is evident in everything they do, and it rubs off on you.
It lifts you up. It’s the type of energy you’d want to feel when working with staff.
Which is why, I think, they make awesome staff members.
The benefits of getting virtual assistants are life changing.
Not only for your business, but you also get a fresh and different life perspective by getting to know and understand your offshore staff.
Although you are thousands of kilometres away, expect the best from your virtual assistants and you’ll appreciate the best staff you’ve ever had.
These are my top 5 observations, but I’m sure that other business owners who work with Filipino virtual assistants have more to add.
Have you worked with a virtual assistant yet? Share your thoughts!