Although there are so many benefits associated with virtual staffing, there are also many negatives. Not only can it be lonely to be a virtual assistant, but it can also be difficult to build rapport with your colleagues, and engage in common workplace camaraderie. As a manager or boss, you can help bring your virtual team closer together with the following tips.
In many workplaces, it’s frowned upon to use social media. It can distract you from your work and before you know it, an hour could have passed as you browse through Aunt Margaret’s holiday photos. However, in the case of virtual assistants, social media can actually be quite beneficial. If you have hired several virtual assistants to help you with day-to-day business operations, you need to make sure they all get along and know each other. Not every staff member is going to be the best of friends, but they can at least get to know each other for a far better working environment.
That is why, as their manager, you should encourage social media usage in order for your virtual team to keep in touch. This could include setting up a group within Facebook, or simply encouraging your team to add each other as friends on any social media platform. As your virtual team get to know each other better, you are sure to see a more united front and better results in team projects.
Social media platforms can include:
If you’re worried about your virtual assistants becoming secluded, excluded, lonely or overwhelmed, it’s important you make time for regular catch ups. This could include conference calls with them all at once as well as one-on-one. As a busy manager or business owner, your time is precious. Even though you may seem like there’s no time for such calls, they are very important. Your staff need to know they are doing the right thing and a good job. Schedule it in your diary on the same time every week/fortnight/month and stick to it. Hold it at the same time, and eventually, your staff members will come to expect it.
The worst thing you can do is only schedule meetings and calls when your virtual administrative assistants have done something wrong. They will come to dread interaction with you, knowing that it’s not going to be good news. Break this trend that’s so common in most workplaces, and just have friendly, regular interaction with your team.
More than likely, your virtual staffing team will be working closely with physical staff members within your business. How do you expect for all to work together in harmony if they’ve never met? Where possible, schedule regular physical meetings between all your staff members. This could be social, or work-related. Why not invite your virtual team for lunch once a month or every few months? It’s important for your entire team to know each other well, in order for them to work together well.
In some cases, this is not possible. You may have hired a virtual staff member in another state or country, or they may not be able to travel. if this is the case, at least let them know the offer is always there if they happen to be passing through. It can deliver a feeling of belonging which can often be so important for those who work alone from home.
When you become a virtual assistant, working from home can become a balancing act. Although you now have more time and freedom to be with your children and family, you also still need to maintain a regular schedule. However, your other virtual colleagues are in the same boat. They too, strive for freedom while still maintaining a good working balance.
The best way to achieve this with your team members is by using an interactive online calendar. Within this calendar, each staff member can have access to it. It can be colour-coded for each staff member, and can include both personal and professional information.
For example, if your group project is due on the 20th of the month, highlight it and write ‘our group project is due.’ However, you can also add in things like “Son’s doctor appointment at 10am on Friday”. As you would have colour-coded the day, people will know it’s you. They will also know to not contact you during this time, or arrange important conference calls around this time as well.
The benefits of being a virtual assistant sometimes come with the requirement of being a little more organised.
As with most workplaces, often the unhappiest staff members are the ones who aren’t comfortable coming to you to share or voice their concerns. No business owner likes their staff to be unhappy, especially when the problem or problems can be rectified. The last thing you want is for your virtual staff to leave your team, all because they didn’t feel they could voice their concerns.
It can be hard to break the trend of bosses being unapproachable. Often, staff members are more than happy to voice their concerns to each other, rather than bring it up in a professional setting. If you don’t feel like you can change this dynamic, why not invest in software that enables your virtual team to complete anonymous surveys? Because you are wanting to enhance camaraderie, surveys can help address problems without naming names. Of course, this is only going to work if you have more than one staff member. In fact, it’s more effective with a large team. You don’t want any staff member to be singled out.
Anonymous surveys could include things such as:
Although it may seem like a coward’s way out, changing the dynamic of your workplace can be hard. Therefore, it’s important you do provide that anonymous platform. You can include a section for the person to write their name, if they so desire.
Improving camaraderie within your virtual staffing team is important. Have you improved it within your team? How did you do it?