In the age of technology, more and more offices are globally diversifying and moving away from the
traditional bricks-and-mortar place of work. What this means is that we need to be flexible to collaborate with coworkers, customers and clients and manage outsourcing in an efficient and pragmatic way. These eight tips will make it easier to work with a variety of colleagues or assistants offshore, and maximise your relationships and capabilities.
1. Encourage questioning
If you create an environment where your assistant feels like he/she can ask you questions, you are far more likely to succeed! Asking (and answering) one simple question can completely change the landscape of a project and affect the outcome. If your assistant is unsure of something, make sure he/she is comfortable asking – you’ll save tones of time and build rapport in the process.
2. Nurture the relationship
To build trust and a solid relationship, make sure you both feel like you are working towards a common goal. Try and learn some personal details; enquire about their kids, their hobbies, what makes them tick. Having something of a personal connection will open things up, and improve your working dynamic too. This is especially true with Filipino staff, as the Philippines is a family first culture so making your virtual assistant feel like part of your companies “family” goes a long way.
3. Understand cultural differences
Understanding someone’s background and culture is more than just learning about where they come from. It’s about knowing what drives and motivates them, how they best learn, their tendencies, and how they work within a team. All of these cultural differences, especially between western and Asian countries, are amplified when working with someone remotely. By better understanding
4. Delegate and share responsibility
The whole point of having an assistant is being able to share the workload, so make sure you have a good system in place for them to make your life easier! Once you’ve decided who will complete which tasks, have regular check-ins. Make sure your assistant is on top of all your deadlines and understands the implications of failure.
5. Be realistic
Before deciding how to delegate tasks, test your assistant’s capabilities. Have him or her work on several things for you to determine where his/her expertise lies and where the knowledge gaps are. Be realistic on what can be accomplished and should be expected by each individual VA.
6. Use appropriate tools
In order to exchange information and share thoughts across vast distances, it is vital that you have solid technological systems in place. In particular, having a great CRM or similar database will be vital – it will allow you to exchange notes and keep up-to-date regardless of time zones or other technological capabilities.
7. Communicate effectively
Simple things such as syncing calendars and diaries so that all members of a global team are aware of appointments can make all the difference! Working in different languages and different cultural perspectives can complicate communication, so try to be succinct in your approach. Bullet point and list format will help here.
8. Give written instructions
While phone conversations are great, and should be done regularly, putting things in writing eliminates confusion and provides a document to consult along the way should there be any confusion. For example, if you require a piece of work completed by a certain deadline, make sure that you record this in writing and share with the other party – and pop a reminder in his/her diary!