5 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Virtual Assistant From Overseas
While in many ways we seem more divided than ever before, there’s no denying that — from a business perspective, at least — we’re more connected now than we’ve ever been. With the advancement of technologies such as video conferencing and cloud computing, as well as evolving attitudes towards the nature of work, it’s increasingly possible to communicate, collaborate, and even hire across borders.
By 2022, more than half (56%) of global companies were working remotely to some degree, while around 1 in 6 were fully remote, with this shift to a more flexible, less location-dependent working model enabling many businesses to rethink their hiring strategies. No longer limited to recruiting within a “commutable” distance from their company HQs, they could begin to think global when sourcing new talent.
Related: Best Virtual Assistant Companies
This adapted model brings several advantages. Crucially, it enables businesses to recruit more cost-effectively, not only by reducing the need for physical office space but also by sourcing talent in comparatively low-cost areas. Additionally, companies can introduce more diversity to their workforces, benefiting from unique perspectives, diversified skill sets, and valuable knowledge of new, overseas markets — ideal for international growth.
Naturally, the role of a virtual assistant is perfectly suited to this hiring practice, principally because their jobs are almost always performed remotely. Theoretically then, there’s little reason not to explore hiring a virtual assistant from overseas, especially when you consider the cost-saving and talent-diversification possibilities. That said, hiring internationally does come with some additional complexities that will need to be allowed for.
With this in mind, let’s consider 5 factors you must take into account before hiring a virtual assistant from another country.
Table of Contents
1. Legal and Ethical Considerations
First off, hiring a virtual assistant from overseas demands an understanding of the legal and ethical implications of recruiting across borders. Without question, employers must familiarize themselves with international labor laws and ethical guidelines, ensuring they maintain a commitment to fair and equitable employment practices. However, these don’t just vary by country, but often by individual states and regions. When hiring in Canada, for example, employment laws may differ from one province to another.
But while these distinctions between countries and territories can introduce complexities, fortunately these can be somewhat circumvented by leveraging an employer of record (EOR), a third-party service provider that acts as a de facto “local” employer on your behalf, taking care of legal and compliance requirements and managing factors such as international payroll, benefits, and taxes. This protects you as an employer, ensuring your hiring and onboarding processes are both legally and ethically sound.
2. Cultural and Communication Nuances
As well as the legal and ethical considerations, hiring a virtual assistant internationally means there’s also a necessity to understand and navigate diverse cultural and communication-related factors. An understanding of linguistic norms and preferences is paramount, not just in terms of vocabulary but also in interpreting nuances and idiomatic expressions pertinent to effective, considerate communication.
A deeper understanding of cultural norms, such as hierarchical structures, decision-making processes, and holiday observances, is also vital to forging a productive and respectful working relationship. Employers must be prepared to navigate through indirect communication styles or differing approaches to task management and conflict resolution, ensuring that cultural disparities are acknowledged, respected, and accommodated, fostering a harmonious and efficient virtual workspace.
3. Time Zone Challenges
Naturally, hiring overseas is likely going to lead to you having to manage relationships across disparate time zones. Depending on the number of hours separating you and your virtual assistant, there may be a degree of asynchronicity to your communication and collaboration with them. It’s important, therefore, to conduct important meetings when your schedules overlap — rather than expecting your VA to be ‘on call’ during unsociable hours — while ensuring effective handovers are conducted in between.
Implementing tools that facilitate effective cross-border time management, such as shared calendars, automated scheduling tools, and project management tools, can mitigate the risk of miscommunications and missed deadlines. You should also account for flexibility where possible, understanding that strictly adhering to a traditional 9-5 model may not be feasible or productive, particularly in an age where work-life balance is seen as paramount.
4. Technological Infrastructure
Ensuring technological compatibility and reliability is certainly crucial when hiring a virtual assistant from overseas. It’s important to assess and validate the technological infrastructure of the country from which you’re hiring, which includes scrutinizing the reliability of internet connections and ensuring the necessary software and hardware are readily accessible — and that your virtual assistant receives the necessary training where required.
Additionally, establishing secure and efficient methods for remote access to company systems — through VPNs and secure cloud storage solutions — is vital, as is a robust cybersecurity framework that includes secure communication channels, encrypted data storage, and regular security audits safeguarding organizational data and functionality, ensuring a smooth and secure collaborative environment.
5. Freelancer or Full-Time Employee
Of course, you’ll also need to consider whether to recruit a freelance virtual assistant or a full-time overseas employee, and this requires a detailed evaluation of your business needs, budget, and project scopes. Freelancers often allow greater flexibility by enabling you to engage them on a project-by-project basis, meaning you can call on specialized expertise without the long-term financial commitment of a full-time salary and benefits.
Related: Freelancer VAs
On the other hand, a full-time virtual assistant may offer more consistent availability and develop a deeper understanding of your business ethos, working methodologies, and long-term objectives. Your decision may hinge upon the level of engagement, longevity, and depth of knowledge required from the assistant, balancing the initial cost and potential value each model brings to your organization.
When it comes to hiring freelancers or full-time remote employees, job boards are invaluable resources for both job seekers and employers. There are several reputable job boards that cater to remote work opportunities. Platforms like Virtual Coworker, OnlineJobs.ph, Freeup, and Remote Coworker have emerged as go-to destinations for businesses looking to find the right talent for remote positions.
As global business realms continue to converge, hiring a virtual assistant from overseas becomes a somewhat intricate task, encompassing considerations surrounding legality, cultural nuances, time management, technological stability, and strategic decision-making. Armed with a holistic approach, however, businesses can adeptly harness global talent, navigating the complex yet advantageous world of international collaboration and ensuring a thriving presence in the global market.