Many businesses are realising that a virtual team is truly a digital dream come true. This non-traditional workplace is giving businesses access to quality work from a pool of great talent all over the world.
However, virtual teams are not without challenges. Sometimes communication gets difficult, connection problems get in the way of important tasks or employers can’t tell if their teams are given too much to do or too little.
Don’t worry, virtual team challenges are easily manageable. Linh Podetti, founder of Outsourcing Angel — an outsourcing agency with a virtual team of over 70 around the world — has tackled a great number of challenges in handling virtual employees. According to Linh, it’s all about creating a highly supportive system that fosters work-life balance, proper communication and relationship building.
In this video, Linh identifies four challenges you may face with your virtual team and how you can overcome them.
Just like when you’re hiring a person locally, there is also a chance of hiring the wrong person for the role. As a recruitment expert, Linh shares that business owners and hiring managers should learn to identify people who thrive in remote environments based on their personalities, needs and available technology. At Outsourcing Angel, the recruitment manager conducts a series of interviews across different platforms to determine the suitability of the candidates. During the screening process, the manager assesses a virtual assistant’s ability to follow instructions, communicate with clients and deliver tasks assigned to them.
Here’s an example of the remote hiring process at Outsourcing Angel:
Interview Round 1: The recruitment manager invites the candidate to an initial video conference via Zoom. At this stage, the manager highlights specific information about the candidate, including skills, portfolio or previous works, internet access, references and other related info. More emphasis is given to how well the candidate answers questions and their strengths, and assessing if they have the suitable soft skills and technical skills.
Interview Round 2: This is the panel interview stage where one of the managers at Outsourcing Angel joins the session to determine if the candidate is a culture fit. OA keeps to a criteria in gauging potential VAs, which includes having a positive attitude, high levels of enthusiasm and good communication skills.
Interview Round 3: A practical exam round, where the candidate is given a specific task to perform based on the role he/she is applying for. At this stage, the hiring manager will assess a candidate’s ability to complete a task within the given timeframe and how well they communicate using the available collaboration tools.
Final interview: Once the candidate aces all interview rounds and proves that he/she is fit for the job, the VA is then invited to a meeting with the assigned client.
2. Not Performing The Way I Want Them To
Once you’ve onboarded your virtual employee, you’ll find that sometimes they are challenged to perform certain tasks. This doesn’t always mean your virtual assistant is incompetent. There are cases where clients aren’t able to set expectations or communicate their requirements well. Virtual staff should be given enough time to understand your business and your processes. This is why Linh recommends providing your virtual teams with an onboarding checklist where business processes, workflows and expectations are clearly indicated. As you go through the onboarding process, the new virtual assistant should be introduced to all the platforms, incentives, workflows and expectations.
3. Communication Issues
Communication is one of the most common challenges in working with virtual teams. The lack of daily face-to-face communication sometimes results in loss of information and miscommunication. You might find it difficult to monitor projects and risk not receiving the information when you need it. Linh tackles communication hurdles by reaching out to her virtual team on a regular basis. At the start of the week, Outsourcing Angel holds a company-wide video conference to share updates and make announcements, such as achievements, priorities and focus for the week.
Linh also lists some online tools that can help make communication and collaboration hassle free.
1. Slack – For daily communications
2. Basecamp – For project management and assigning tasks to multiple team members
3. Screencast-o-matic – Screen recording tool to allow you to create instructional videos
4. Zoom – For video conferencing and weekly meetings
5. Calendly – For organising meetings and scheduling calls
TIP: According to Linh, it’s best to avoid communicating via email as they can get lost and information can be misinterpreted. However, emails are a great tool for sending daily reports. You can require your VAs to send a report at the end of each work day summarising the work they’ve accomplished to make sure you are informed about all work-related issues.
Even when you’ve found a great VA, there’s still a risk of her resigning. This can be frustrating as you’ve put so much effort in recruitment and training. Virtual teams come and go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Linh firmly believes that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference on the morale of your virtual employee. Here are some of the things you can do to retain and motivate your virtual staff.
1. Sharing your WHY
One of Linh’s retention strategies at Outsourcing Angel is sharing a clear mission and communicating your “why.” Your virtual teams will be drawn to your purpose, and because of this, they will be motivated to stay with you and work with you so they can be part of your mission.
Linh also recommends giving incentives and rewards to your VAs. Outsourcing Angel holds monthly competitions where each participant can gain points that can be redeemed for bonuses, as well as company trips and other performance-based rewards.
3. Remembering Special Occasions
It would also help taking note of special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and kids’ birthdays so you can surprise your virtual staff with birthday wishes or special gifts.
These simple strategies can help you maximise the success of your virtual teams and lay the groundwork to help remote employees become more productive and highly engaged.
As you scale your business, a virtual staff can prove to be a valuable and cost-efficient resource. Download Outsourcing Angel’s Onboarding Checklist and start building your perfect virtual team today. Or you can hire your first virtual assistant from Outsourcing Angel so you can have access to the best talents and start building a strong virtual team.
VA Writer: Jamie S. Ayque
VA Position: Digital Marketer