The Biggest Challenges Faced by VAs
Virtual assistants have completely transformed the way companies conduct their businesses. As more and more organizations shift to remote work, VA jobs have tremendously increased as well. The ability to work from home is just one of the many perks that this job offers.
However, being a virtual assistant comes with many challenges too. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome such obstacles, thrive in this profession and be more effective and satisfied at work.
There’s no form of communication better than direct, face-to-face interactions.
Surely, working from home has so many benefits. But unless you’re prepared for the daily communication issues, you might find this job overwhelming.
Virtual teams completely rely on communication channels like chats, video conferences, and emails. Unfortunately, many factors can get in the way, such as delayed messages, internet connectivity issues, client emails going into the “spam” folder, unread messages, conflicting time zones, etc. The list is endless.
The best way to prevent delays and misunderstandings and to increase productivity is by devising a plan or process to ensure that all instructions are understood by both parties (client and VA). Many virtual teams are using communication platforms like Slack where messages and interactions are easily managed and supervised to ensure that team members don’t miss any important message or information.
A Different Way of Working
If you have never worked as a VA or freelancer before, it can get very overwhelming in the beginning. Working remotely is far different from working in an office.
While it’s true that you have more control over your schedule, if you don’t manage your time well, you might end up not getting anything done, missing deadlines, and worse – getting kicked out from the team.
It takes a lot of adjustment to become a successful virtual assistant. Aside from learning to work independently or with minimal supervision, you have to learn how to adapt to a new environment, deal with people from different cultures, and get acquainted with every work-related process of the company.
It’s important to openly and honestly communicate with your client or virtual team manager about your struggles in transitioning to remote work. It does take some time to get used to a different way of working but as long as you’re open to learning and willing to adjust, you’ll get there.
Virtual assistant jobs can be very fulfilling for self-motivated people, so long as you manage your time effectively. There are many time tracking softwares or websites available to help you manage!
Here are some time management strategies to stay productive when working from home:
- Use time blocking.
Divide your day into blocks of time, each is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task. For example, you can try to schedule all your meetings in a day so they don’t get in the way of your other tasks, dedicate Monday for deep work and Friday for wrapping up any loose ends.
- Make a list and prioritize.
Create a timeline of your activities for the week, placing the most important and urgent ones first.
- Have a dedicated office or workstation in your home.
Find a quiet and organized space where you can focus on work and block distractions.
Serving international clients can be challenging. VAs need to be highly fluent in English, or it is better when a VAs are bilingual and can easily communicate with people of different nationalities. A good way to enhance your English speaking and writing skills is to join a language class.
Do note that different cultures may speak the same language differently. For example, American English is different from British English. Understanding language barriers is key to effective communications.
Fear and Overwhelm
It’s normal to get anxious about your tasks as a virtual assistant, especially if you have the fear of communicating with others.
Language and culture barriers, along with task-specific challenges can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are excellent training programs that will equip you with the skills and knowledge to become confident with your new role.
Conflicting Time Zones
Working with clients in different time zones is extremely challenging. Conflicting time zones can cause communication delays and project delays, which can be very frustrating for you and your client.
When you start working with a new client, be sure to discuss your time zone concerns. For example, when setting deadlines, meetings, and other time-sensitive correspondence, will you be using their local time or yours? Since you want to make it easy for your client, you want to always offer to use their local time.
Try to find an ideal time that will work on your schedule too. For example, see if anytime between 4 pm and 7 pm in your time is suitable for correspondence on your client’s time (preferably, it should be between 9 am and 5 pm in their time.)
Setting a daily routine is important to be a successful virtual assistant. It creates structure, helps you reach your goals, and reduces procrastination.
Here’s an example of a routine that you can try:
- Start each day with some exercise. Physical activity energizes your mind and body, preparing you for a productive day ahead.
- Have a hearty breakfast.
- Schedule difficult tasks in the morning. If you do the easiest tasks first, chances are, you won’t have enough energy to tackle more difficult tasks in the afternoon.
- Take a break. Schedule your breaks. Get up from your desk once in a while to do a few stretches.
- Follow a work schedule. Practice life-work balance by setting a daily schedule.
- Have a rest day. Make sure you enjoy the weekend too.
Being a virtual assistant can be a fulfilling career. However, to succeed in this profession, you have to take time to master your communication and task-specific skills. At the same time, you have to establish a healthy routine and time management to get things done and serve your clients well.
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Meggie is an HR Manager at AMGtime and a passionate Freelance Writer with ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She is deeply convinced that valuable experience sharing is key to business success. Meggie believes in a win-win formula and utilizes it on a daily basis in staff management.