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How do you know if your VA is really working the hours the say they are?

This is a question I get a lot.

If you’re in different time zones, you might not have much overlap during your days.

There are 4 ways to answer this question.

1. Are they delivering results?

My guess is you’ll be able to tell how much work they’re putting in by how much work they’re putting out.

This would be a “results-oriented” management strategy, one that says I don’t really care what hours you work, as long as the deliverables get done.

But this method involves a lot of trust, especially at the onset of your working relationship.

2. Use the Upwork built-in tracking systems.

If you hire a VA through Upwork, you’ll be able to take advantage of their built-in tracking systems track the hours worked and take screenshots at random intervals so you can “look over the shoulder” of your VA to make sure they’re on task.

Even though I’ve been working with my current VA for more than 18 months through Elance (now called Upwork), I can honestly say I’ve logged in and looked at the tracker twice.

Once when I didn’t find her on Skype during her normal hours, and once again to write this email.

The tracker is there as a safety net. If your VA is spending their hours on Facebook instead of on your projects, you’ll have visual proof of it.

And on the flipside, your VA has proof of their hours worked to make sure they get paid.

3. Use a third-party tracking system.

If you’ve hired a VA outside of Upwork, you might consider a third-party tracking software to help keep watch over your VA.

This can be a touchy subject to broach — some VAs will see it as a sign of mistrust, but others will be happy to oblige because it protects them as well.

The best-known tracking software is TimeDoctor, by Rob Rawson (also co-founder of Staff.com). The service starts at $12 per month and has a 30-day free trial.

However, there’s a free alternative called TimeProof from the team at OnlineJobs.ph, that you can use whether or not you use their platform to hire a VA.

It works similarly to the Upwork system in that it tracks hours on the job and takes random screenshots of your worker’s computer.

Related: Upwork Alternatives: 49 Sites Like Upwork to Find Freelance Talent

4. Use iDoneThis.com

iDoneThis.com is a cool software application that sends a nightly email asking what you got done today. You just type out a quick reply and the system logs your responses.

It’s $5 a month per user for teams, so you can set it up to have it sent to your VA each day to get an overview of what they accomplished.

So which method is best? Like a lot of things in this business, it depends on your comfort level and trust.

Perhaps the best way is to have some sort of tracking system to keep everyone honest, but not to spend much of your time checking it — because that micromanaging would be counterproductive to why you hired a VA in the first place.

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