Virtual Assistants

4 Ways to Avoid Disappearing Virtual Assistants

Has this ever happened to you?

You hire a virtual assistant (VA) who you think will make your life easier. Then out of the blue, your virtual assistant disappears on you.

When we first started hiring VAs 8 years ago, we experienced this first hand and it frustrated us so much! You spend all this time training and getting someone onboarded, then poof! They’re gone and you’re stuck doing things all over again.

But those “failures” didn’t deter us. Instead, we came up with ways to make sure that it didn’t happen again going forward.

And in this article, we are going to share with you four things to keep in mind to ensure you won’t have to deal with disappearing virtual assistants again. 

1. Start evaluating from the first introduction.

When you sent them an email to set up a time for an initial interview, how quickly did they respond? On the day of the interview, did they show up on time? If they can’t reply to an email within 24 business hours,that’s an issue. 

Response time is crucial, especially in a remote office environment. So meeting a potential VA who puts a lot of value on time and quickly responds to messages should be a non-negotiable requirement from your end.

If they can’t do either of those things, run away! It’s not going to work out.

2. Look for red flags in the interview.

The interview stage is a chance for you and your VA to get to know each other better. So, you need to take the interview seriously and make sure that you’re asking the right questions so you can assess their:

  1. skills
  2. attitude 
  3. culture

Don’t hire based on skills simply alone. You need someone that has a good attitude, values family, and is looking for a long term opportunity.

Plus, you need to watch out for red flags such as:

  • Do their rates fit your budget?
  • Can they work according to your schedule?
  • Can they work the number of hours you require?

If there are any red flags, don’t go forward!

3. Once you find someone you like, take them through an onboarding meeting

Avoid Disappearing Virtual AssistantsThis is a meeting we see SO MANY entrepreneurs skip.

You’ve got to set clear expectations once you hire someone before you get into training.

Set a meeting and talk to them about:

  • How you expect them to communicate

We’d like to emphasize that communication is a very important aspect of making a remote arrangement work. You don’t get to see each other every day so proactive communication is extremely vital.

This is why during onboarding, you must clearly discuss with your VAs what communication channels to use and when. If one channel fails to work, there should be a backup. 

  • Their schedule

If you hire a VA from across the world, the difference in time zones can cause confusion and issues in the future. So as early as the onboarding stage, clarify which time zone both of you must refer to when setting meetings, deadlines, and shift schedules.

  • Their internet and power

Power outages, internet connection problems, and other emergencies happen. And in a virtual set up, not having backup plans in case those emergencies arise can cause problems. Check out our article on different communication channels you must set up with your VA  to learn the strategies we use to effectively communicate with virtual teams.

  • How to deal with issues if they come up

Remember, you are hiring a VA to get tasks and responsibilities off your plate. You need someone who can resolve issues on their own and won’t rely on you before they make simple decisions. During this stage of the onboarding process, start sharing an overview of your SOPs so they know they have material to refer to and that they are accountable for the tasks assigned to them.

  • Your company culture

Having team members that fit into your company culture is another important consideration. Yes, skills are important. But in the long run, you can’t keep people who don’t share the same values with the rest of the team. So take time to discuss your company culture with your potential virtual assistant to see if they are suited to work with you.

You may think these topics aren’t important, but they will come back to bite you if you skip over them on the get go.

4. Keep a close eye on them for the first 2-3 weeks

The first two to three weeks is when the VA will shine or fail. This timeframe is very crucial, and you have to assess their performance closely.

  • Make sure they are communicating how you want them to.

Check if they provide you with constant updates, and they utilize the communication channels you require. 

  • Make sure they are showing up on time for meetings.

Keep count of any delinquency and ensure that they stick to the schedules.

  • Make sure they are checking in at the start of their shift and at the end of their shift.

Closely monitor their job performance and ensure that there is no evidence of slacking during their shifts.

Don’t give them any slack until you know that you can rely on them and that they are living up to your expectations.

In conclusion

If you do all of these four things, there’s a better chance that you won’t have to deal with disappearing virtual assistants or that you’ll catch a bad egg well before they even have the chance to disappear on you.

We talk all about this and more in our Cracking the VA Code system.

How about you? What other hacks do you have to make sure VAs don’t disappear on you?

Virtual Assistants

Why We Interview Using Slack Instead of Audio or Video

In an earlier blog, we talked about why we conduct our meetings through Slack. Another thing that may baffle a lot of people is that we also conduct ALL of our interviews using the same channel. Back when we were still handling FreeUp, we followed the same process using Skype. We did that for more than five years!

We know that the norm is to conduct interviews using video or voice calls. But over the years, we found it more effective to interview virtual assistants through Slack chat and here’s why:

1. It’s the main communication channel we will use once we start working with them

Everyone in the Outsource School team works remotely. As we have shared before, about 90% of our virtual assistants are based in the Philippines. We communicate with them daily through Slack chat and emails.

So when we interview, it is very important for us to see how they communicate via Slack. Some of the things we make sure to take note of are:

  • How fast they respond.

In a remote set up, communication is extremely important. We want to gauge as early as the interview stage how fast they can respond when they know they are on shift and should be focusing on their tasks at hand. 

  • How their English grammar is.

As we hire almost all of our VAs from the Philippines, we need to assess how good their English grammar is given that this is not their first language. This is extremely essential if you are hiring someone for customer service, content writing, and even graphic design roles. For any role that involves talking directly to clients or creating content that will reach your clients, you have to make sure that their English grammar is good. 

  • How well they can understand our typing.

It is definitely easier to catch instructions during audio or video calls. But since we use chat to communicate 90% of the time, we definitely prefer virtual assistants who can understand our typing. And if they can’t, be able to ask for clarifications immediately to make sure that we understand each other.

  • How well they can carry on a conversation with us on Slack chat.

Aside from being able to understand what we are trying to say, ideal VAs should also be able to clearly express themselves on chat. This is important so that they can let us know if any problems arise in the future or if they have any questions or suggestions. Good communication must come from both sides.

If ever we decide to hire them, 99% of the communication will happen on Slack so why not use that for the interview too? If you can’t understand each other on chat or if they’re taking too long to respond, that’s definitely a red flag that you have to consider. You are most likely to experience a lot of communication problems down the road if you decide to hire them.

2. It gives us a record of the conversation that we can refer to when making a final hiring decision

When hiring for a new position, we typically like to interview at least two people; sometimes three or four depending on how the first two go. If you’re fairly new or haven’t done interviews before, the number could even go up. And that’s perfectly fine because it is important to hire the right person so you don’t have to go through the entire process again.

One main benefit of interviewing via Slack chat is that we get to have written records of each interview – no matter how many they might be. This makes it easy for us to go back to them and review the conversations once we have completed all of the interviews. From there, we can make good comparisons on who is the best candidate for the role and make an educated final decision.

Sure, we have tools today that allow us to record audio or video interviews. But it can take a lot of time to go back and listen or watch each recording when you’re trying to decide which candidate is better. Plus, we’re sure you take down notes while listening to these interviews anyway. So it’s really more efficient for us to just do the interviews on Slack and read them again once we are ready to decide who to hire.

3. It allows us to get all the facts that we need in a timely manner without being persuaded by emotional factors

Interviews can really drag out sometimes and take a lot of time more than what you initially set. It’s easy to lose structure and start talking about things out of topic. We know from experience because we used to conduct two-hour long interviews in our first company. 

With Slack chat, we know the questions we want to ask, we know the information that we need, and we know how to dig deep into the person’s motivation and values. Depending on what role we’re hiring for, we can prepare the exact questions to ask beforehand and easily copy and paste them during the interview.

With this structure, most of our interviews are completed within 30 to 40 minutes and we have all of the information we need to then make a final decision on who is best to hire. 

Lastly, it allows us to keep most of the interview fact-based and less about emotions and our “connection” to the candidates – which can happen if using audio or video.

And don’t get us wrong, we are all about cultural fit and making sure to hire people that align with our company values, but you can learn all of that through chat conversations just as much as you can via audio or video. 

In conclusion

We are not saying that there is anything wrong with interviewing via audio or video. But we are making a strong argument that it might not be necessary when hiring for a virtual position where most of the communication will be over Slack chat anyway.

So feel free to try using chat in your next interviews and apply some of the tips we shared above. It just might work wonders for you as it did the same to us. If you do decide to try, let us know how it goes!

Virtual Assistants

The Top 10 Outsourcing Courses of 2020

Outsourcing is an excellent way to achieve efficiency in your company. Many talented and competent individuals from around the world can take off that extra load of work from you.

Countries like the Philippines are one of the leading locations where global businesses hire their virtual assistants.  

However, a common dilemma among entrepreneurs who are new to outsourcing is the fact that they don’t have the right hiring process in place. Aside from that, the increasing number of reports about scams and bad hires has discouraged them from outsourcing.

That is why we created this list. It’s to help educate entrepreneurs like you about the basics of outsourcing. To help you get started, check out these top 10 outsourcing courses of 2020:

1. Cracking the VA Code Cracking the VA CodeCracking the VA Code is one of the many courses offered by Outsource School. The instructors and producers of this course are Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan, the men behind many successful e-commerce businesses and FreeUp. A product of their 10+ years of experience in the industry and onboarding virtual assistants, the course aims to help entrepreneurs build the right system for outsourcing.

Created to help elevate the skills and hiring processes of virtual assistants, “Cracking the VA Code” is proven to be effective by many entrepreneurs. It includes modules, cheat sheets, methods, and techniques you can utilize to avoid the common mistakes in the onboarding procedures.

2. Outsourcing Without Fear- An Entrepreneur’s Hands-On Guide

The first step in outsourcing is knowing its basic definitions, pros and cons, and how it can help you build your company. If you are one of those aspiring entrepreneurs who are new in the industry, this is the outsourcing course for you.

Know the basics of outsourcing with this hands-on guide. Bryan Durkin, an esteemed business owner, direct sales representative, and creator of this outsourcing course is honest in saying that he is addicted to helping people. The course’s objective is to lay out all the twists and turns in outsourcing with the provided learning materials and business advice from Bryan himself. 

3. Podcast Outreach Formula

Outsource School is hosts a variety of courses and playbooks that will help entrepreneurs set up their businesses for success by employing virtual assistants.

Aside from Cracking the VA Code, another excellent course from the same platform is the Podcast Outreach Formula. Loaded with systematic ways and proven effective procedures for landing more podcast interviews with a VA. Be informed of the essentials in interviewing, onboarding, hiring, and managing your virtual assistants.

4. Master Outsourcing

master outsourcing

Master Outsourcing caters to all the areas in outsourcing, ensuring the discussion of all multiple points and the best processes in contracting work. 

This outsourcing course will not just improve your hiring skills but will also teach you best practices in budgeting, project management, product development, and increasing success rates. Set and reach team goals by applying your learnings from this course.

5. Digital Flipping Masterclass: Learn To Flip Services Online

Digital Flipping

Digital Flipping is the process of getting a job from an employer, outsourcing it for a lower price, and make some profit. In this masterclass, you will learn about the foundations of digital flipping, outsourcing, agency business, profitable niches, and risk management. 

This course will teach you how to become an active connection between the employer and competent freelance workers around the globe and gain income. Start building your own service flipping business with this course, and provide meaningful services to improve it. 

6. Outsource Everything (almost)

Outsource everything

Wouldn’t it be amazing to outsource everyday and straightforward tasks efficiently? Get your kid a tutor, have a freelancer handle your website, have assistants who will grow your business, and a lot more. 

From the name itself, Outsource Everything (almost) is an outsourcing course that will teach you what tasks you can outsource and how to do it effectively so you are able to save more time and money. The course is organized into three sections. The first is an overview of outsourcing, the platforms you can use to find freelancers, and a real walkthrough process with in-depth case studies. 

7. Outsource Your Life and Business

Outsource your life

Simple tasks won’t seem to matter until they pile up and take so much of your time. These can drain your energy and consume the time meant for your other priorities. This course will help you regain all the lost times and catch up on the things you love doing.

Covering the foundations of outsourcing, what you need to outsource, finding the right team and growing with them, and building your business with your team of assistants. 

8. The Guide to Philippines Outsourcing 

the guide to philippines outsourcing

The Philippines is home to many competent and talented virtual assistants. VAs from the Philippines provide exemplary service and maximum efficiency. This course will walk you through the process of finding, hiring, and managing Filipino virtual assistants. The best thing about this outsourcing course is that it is for FREE!

9. Outsource Easier!

outsource EASIER

Growing a business takes a lot of time and effort. The dedication you have for your craft will determine its sustainability and success. Fortunately, there are now many resources to help you achieve your goals without overworking yourself.

One of these resources is this outsourcing course called Outsource Easier. Run by Dina Eisenberg, a former prosecutor turned ombuds and today an effective outsourcing & onboarding mentor. Focusing on assisting firms and lawyers delegate tasks through onboarding and efficiently manage daily operations. Eisenberg, an award-winning coach, will nurture you with knowledge in the legal field and running your firm through outsourcing.

10. Mobile App Business Ideas & Hiring/Outsourcing Engineers

Mobile App Business Ideas & HiringOutsourcing Engineers

The surplus of mobile applications in the market has created a new digital industry. This industry is a promising and profitable one that provides a platform for developers to showcase their ideas. With over 2,000,000+ cumulative app downloads, Alex Genadinik, instructor of this course, ensures that this course will equip students with the latest trends and skills in the mobile application business and outsourcing engineers. 

This outsourcing course covers lessons from the development of your app idea to the app’s actual launching. You will learn different marketing strategies and development techniques after you take this course.

If you know how to outsource, you hold an advantage in today’s technologically advanced era. Maximize the potential of people around the globe and collaborate with them to create excellent products. Start your first outsourcing course today, and discover skills to improve and grow your business.

Virtual Assistants

Are Text or Video Standard Operating Procedures Better?

Every business owner has to face the challenge of building standard operating procedures (SOP) documents. Aside from the amount of time and effort required to build SOPs, they also face the dilemma of choosing what platform works best: text or video.
Standard operating procedures consist of step-by-step instructions that are collated by the business or any organization. These steps help employees complete tasks effectively and according to company standards. SOPs also help them achieve high-quality output, efficiency, and consistency.
We started with text SOPs here in Outsource School. We were running our eCommerce business, buying and selling products on Amazon then when we created an SOP for filling orders as this was the a daily task for our VAs. As the years went by, we have created a combination of text and video SOPs which have both resulted to significant positive impact in our operations.
So to answer the question posed above, none is better than the other. An SOP that preferably has both video and text is best, and here is why:

1. It caters to both visual and reading learners.

video and text SOPsWhen you give both text and video SOPs to your employees, you address both visual and reading learners. Some people find it easier to comprehend and grasp instructions written in text but have difficulty understanding procedures shown on video.
This situation can also be the same for those who find video SOPs easier to understand. Making sure that standard operating procedures are available for both platforms eliminates this dilemma. This assures you that everyone on your team understands the company guidelines and processes.

2. SOPs provide a realistic look at how tasks are carried out.

Whether it be a procedure written in text or displayed on video, an SOP will give employees a glimpse of how tasks are carried out. This is especially useful for newly hired employees as it shows them what your company’s processes are when it comes to particular tasks. This will also serve as a guideline on how to complete tasks according to company standards. This provides uniformity in their output. 
On top of this, SOPs usually include common challenges employees face when working on a task as well as possible solutions. This helps a lot as it not only makes the task easier to complete, it also saves the employee time from having to figure out how to solve a problem.

3. Standard Operation Procedure Text Documents Can Be Used for Future Reference

text SOPA standard operating procedure presented in the text serves as a guide that your employees can go back to anytime. This is especially useful if you are a business that manages your team remotely as you won’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over. Additionally, text SOPs can be considered as a cheat sheet that they can refer to when working on a task.
Written SOPs do not only work as a reference for your employees. It is also a tool you can use to hold them accountable for their actions. A written step-by-step procedure can help you set standards for your workers which you can use to evaluate their performance.
Standard operating procedures are not only beneficial for your employees but also to you, their manager. These documents can help guide you in evaluating the performance of each member of your team thus allowing you to rate your employees fairly. 
What most organizations do not realize is,  SOPs can help build employee expertise through routine processes. Working with no SOPs can lead to more errors and miscommunications.
This is not to say that employees should be treated like robots. However, if you hire the right people and train them well, you will eventually find yourself working with people who work autonomously and who always use their best judgment when it making decisions. Transferring knowledge to new hires is always a critical part of the process.
Every step of the procedure should be discussed in detail. This removes the confusion that employees may experience in the absence of a point of reference.
Performing repetitive tasks will allow your employees to learn the process by heart. As a result, they can execute these tasks seamlessly and more efficiently.

4. Text and Video SOPs Can Easily Be Updated 

It is important to revisit and update your standard operating procedures regularly. Doing so keeps your organization up to date with new regulations, technology, and best practices in the industry. It also ensures that your procedures and policies are still effective and consistent with your organization’s goals.
Some organizations may need to add new sections to existing SOPs and revise and delete older parts. SOPs, whether in text or video, provide a more accessible avenue to make this possible. Because employees can easily access the processes, updating them will not be as hard.
Traditionally, employees are informed of any updates on SOPs through face-to-face meetings. This method decreases the productivity of the organization as a personal orientation eats up a lot of time. You have to do it for every department, which makes it all the longer to finish. These days however, a quick email sent will suffice.
While it may take longer to do both, it will save you significant time and money in the long run. Having both SOP formats will take a lot of weight off your shoulders while assuring that your employees are as productive.
Virtual Assistants

5 Reasons to Hold a Team and Culture Onboarding Meeting with New Hires

Just in a physical office, an onboarding meeting is also crucial when hiring remote employees to be part of your team. It is important to discuss matters such as company goals, expectations, tasks, compensation, culture, etc. with your newly hired virtual assistants as early as the first day. This ensures that any confusion and unrealistic expectations are eliminated.

At Outsource School, we have a unique onboarding process called the SICC Method. The acronym SICC stands for: schedule, internet and power issues, communication, and culture. Any time we hire someone new for our team, we make sure to bring them through this method.

You may be wondering why there’s a need to go through such an extensive process when you can just give them documents to study. In this article, we will highlight the 5 reasons why holding a team and culture onboarding meeting with new hires is essential. 

Once you’ve read and understood the reasons, you will most probably find yourself agreeing and will proceed to including this in your virtual assistant new hire onboarding process.

Let’s get right to it!

1. Proper introduction to the team.

virtual onboarding meetingThere’s no better way to introduce new hires to your team than in an onboarding meeting where most, if not all, of your team members are present. Make sure to introduce each team member by name and give a quick overview of what they do. This will give your new hire an idea on who to go to when they need help with certain tasks.

On top of this, new hires will become familiar with the organizational structure of your company. They won’t be left clueless when an issue arises because they’ll know who exactly to report to.

2. It makes them feel connected to the mission and vision of the company.

Most people do not realize that the company’s vision and mission statements play an essential role in ensuring the success of the organization. The mission statement serves as the team’s clear and practical guide for making decisions. On the other hand, the vision statement ensures that every decision made is appropriately aligned with what the team hopes to achieve.

One of the reasons why conducting a team and culture onboarding meeting is important is because of these two factors:

  1. This is where you’ll be introducing your company’s mission and vision statements.
  2. Making sure that they know the mission and vision of the company ensures that their own goals align with your organization’s. 

3. An onboarding meeting gives you the opportunity to discuss your company’s values.

Aside from the company’s mission and vision, you should also discuss your company values during the onboarding meeting. With a clear understanding of the values your company upholds, your employees will understand what you stand for, what you believe in, and also apply this to their own professional lives.

These company values will also serve as a guide as they advance further in their career. If they are guided by the right set of values, they’ll be able to make sound decisions that will serve to benefit not only themselves but also your company. 

4. It makes them feel valued and heard.

new hire onboardingThough your newly hired virtual assistants have only been with you for a minute, it is important to make sure they do not feel as if they are less valued and heard compared to the tenured members of your team. The warmth and sincerity of the welcome they receive from your team during the onboarding meeting will make them feel valued and excited to begin working.

While new hires will always show a certain level of enthusiasm during the first month or so working with a new company, this can easily run out. It is your job to make sure your employees are continuously motivated and when it comes to new hires, the best way to do this is by making sure they feel valued, heard, and that they are important to your organization.

5. It gives new hires an idea of the type of working environment in your company.

The culture and working environment varies from one company to another. Some organizations are purely formal; the employees are solely focused on their work. Meanwhile, there are more relaxed work environments and these are the ones that foster employee relationships more than anything and is what’s usually adopted in virtual offices.

There are many other reasons why it is vital to hold a team and culture onboarding meeting. If you haven’t implemented this in your new hire onboarding process yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Your entire organization will benefit greatly from this step.

Virtual Assistants

3 Communication Channels You MUST Set Up With Your Virtual Team

Remote work setup has become more widely adopted now that we are living in a “new normal” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, you have to learn how to effectively manage a virtual team to still operate continuously and efficiently during these unprecedented times.
Communication plays the most vital role in managing a remote business. When working with a team of virtual assistants, it is crucial that you use the right communication channels. This will ensure that everything will run smoothly and efficiently.
Good team communication will help you oversee your operations better and provide solutions to unforeseen events. In order to establish a clear communication line for your virtual team, you need to use a tool meant specifically for this purpose. The initial setup might be a little challenging as there are requirements you’ll need to fulfill and you still have to get used to the whole process, but it will significantly benefit your business in the long run. 
In this article, we discuss the strategies to find the most effective ways to communicate with virtual teams.
Here are the top 3 communication channels that you MUST have set up:

1. Daily Check-Ins and Check Outs

There are two things you should initially require from your virtual team. First, they should check in with you as they sign in to start work for the day, just like in a traditional workspace. And second, they must send you a message when they wrap up at the end of their shift.
You can even have them summarize what they accomplished for the day and what they will be working on the next time they log in. Checkouts will provide them with an overview of the things they need to work on next and plan their schedule accordingly.
If you are a busy business owner, you may not have time to review these daily check-ins and checkouts until later in the day. However, the upside to these is they keep you in the loop with what your virtual team is up to and, most importantly, it holds them accountable for their work and actions.
This step is crucial to managing a remote team effectively. Once you implement this for your team, you will realize how much of a game-changer it can be in terms of maintaining an open communication line with your team.
If you do not have it set up yet, meet with your team to talk about and set expectations. This way, you are assured that you are all on the same page. A personal briefing also lets you see how it impacts team communication in general.

2. Emergency Communication Methods

emergency communication lines

There can be several things both you and your employees can never avoid. Emergencies like team members losing power, the internet going out, family members getting sick, and your team themselves getting sick, are only some examples. There are a lot of emergencies that could arise in your virtual team.
The best way to curb emergencies so that they don’t lead to a communication breakdown is to have an emergency communication channel set up. I prefer this to be a mobile app like Viber or WhatsApp because these are still available even when power is out, or the internet is down.
After setting this up, all you need to do is set the right expectations with your team. Make it a point to require your team to reach out to you via your emergency communication channel in case of an emergency. Doing so will ensure that you are in the loop with what is happening, and you are not left wondering where they are during the hours they’re supposed to be working.
When you set this expectation upfront, you cut the chances of a virtual team member disappearing on you in case of an emergency. 

One good tip is to also have them list down an emergency contact person. It could be their significant other, mother, father, or sibling. Whoever that person may be, secure their contact information so you can reach them during emergencies.

3. Weekly All-Hands Meetings

Weekly Meetings
In most offices, teams hold weekly meetings where everyone joins in the conference room, and they go over goals for the week, issues, etc. However, these are not limited to traditional workplaces. Weekly meetings are also applicable to virtual teams.
It is essential to set aside time every single week for the team to come together to talk about specific topics. It can be about the business in general, getting and sharing updates, talking about some problems they are encountering with their tasks, and brainstorming on different topics.
You can do this meeting every Monday morning – this will help get the week started on the right foot. And to keep it simple, you can do it via Slack chat instead of video or audio. With Outsource School, we have been running these meetings for 3+ months now, and with FreeUp, we ran them for 3+ years.
Such strategies make a significant impact on the team’s productivity and organization as a whole. Plus, it gets the team excited for the week ahead and makes them more motivated to hit their goals.


Communication is the lifeblood of a remote organization. A business without a secure connection among its virtual assistants and freelancers will eventually result in it falling apart. People will begin to leave, and you will be stuck in a place where work is back on your plate.
No business person wants that to happen. Thus, you must make sure to have these 3 communication channels set up with your virtual team. Put it at the top of your To-Do List so you do not forget about it, and start getting things done as soon as possible.
It will not take long to set them up, and they’ll drastically improve communication with your virtual team.
Virtual Assistants

Remote Management: Running a Remote Team During the Coronavirus

Recent events have forced organizations and companies worldwide to innovate and direct their efforts in bringing processes online. Digital transformation is the name of the game, and if anything good comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic for businesses, we realize that most office-based employees’ workload can be done even at home with remote management.

A study by the Owl Labs shows employees who work from home are equally or sometimes even more productive and happier than those who work in an office environment. Working from home has its benefits. For one, employees will no longer spend time commuting. They also get to spend more time with their families in-between breaks. 

However, the study also shows that there are downsides to the work-from-home set-up. The temptation to delay tasks is high, and being always available for conversation and other distractions from family members can derail employees’ focus. There are also challenges in not being able to communicate with teammates in person.

Let’s talk about some ideas you can apply to your current working set-up that you can benefit from both in the short and long term.

Be In The Right Mindset

Successful businesses thrive through adaptability and being proactive, no matter the situation. As a manager, you need to rethink and adjust your approach to team management amidst the new normal.

While there is no one solution to improving how you navigate your remote team, there are specific general actions you can take to get there faster.

There are several ways teams can continue collaborating and working efficiently despite the distance between them. Technology has allowed us to do teleconference and other methods of meeting through online software. However, the tools we have will only be useful if we are prepared and have the right mindset for the task.

Update Your Software

Remote Team Management Amidst a PandemicSince most of the time, you and your employees will be spending time working through the internet; you must check if your software is up to date. One of the crucial items teams need to look out for are the tools used in the work-from-home set-up. 

Updating your telecommunication software will lessen security issues that may come up. Security is crucial, especially so during meetings that include sensitive information about the company, its business, and the extensive database hackers can exploit and use against your company.

Make sure your team is also knowledgeable in using these telecommunication softwares. If you can, request your company a set of remote work tools, e.g., camera, microphone, or personal laptops. Some companies even provide a faster internet connection for employees. Through these tools, you can assure the quality of the conversations your team can have.

Coordinate Meetings Properly and Keep Them Fruitful

Meeting coordination is harder for teams that do not live in the same time zone. Due to the Coronavirus, some employees might have returned/moved to cities/locations that pose the least risk to their health. As part of boosting morale for your team, you need to be considerate of everyone, or at the very least, do what is best for the majority. Take note that the goal of meetings is not to micromanage teams but rather to delegate work and exchange ideas, which consequently will increase your team’s ability to be more productive and do actual work.

You may be familiar with the phrase, “that meeting should’ve been an email.” As a manager, you need to distinguish which of the items on your checklist needs discussion as a group and which ones you can communicate through chat, email, or other messaging tools.

It would be beneficial if you set a specific time for the day you meet as a group online to delegate work, receive updates, and discuss other items on your list.

Keep The Working Environment Collaborative and Fun

virtual onboarding meetingOne of your jobs as a team leader is to keep employees engaged and motivated. However, not being able to check up on them and encourage them personally poses a challenge. Here are a few ways to keep them happy and productive.

1. Create A Virtual Room For Casual Conversations

Having a place where employees can engage in watercooler conversations, crack jokes, and talk about things outside work is helpful. It relieves stress and makes employees feel more connected despite the physical distance. 

It would also be beneficial to have a chat room where everyone is present, a chat room where they can send motivation photos, morning greetings, congratulatory messages, etc. Make sure you clearly label which ones are for work and formal conversations and which ones are for non-work related items.

2. Start The Day With A Short Activity

Most employees probably wake up 10 minutes before working hours start, and that’s okay! To liven up the room, you can choose to create a short activity where everyone can join. Treat this activity as an icebreaker. Have fun with the first few minutes of the working day. As long as your employees are comfortable with the activity, go for it!

Have An Open Line And Give Emphasis To Communication

Your employees must know and feel that they can freely talk to you. Support your team by keeping an open line and let them know what you are doing.

One way to do this is to share your work calendar. Knowing what time you are open for one-on-ones and other urgent conversations help a team’s productivity.

Another essential item to note in remote team management is to over-communicate. It is easier to misinterpret conversations and meeting details when you cannot read people’s body language. It also poses a challenge for your team if they cannot meet with you. Be clear and specific in your instructions. Before sending out emails and other messages, re-read the content and make sure it is easy to understand.

Confirm with your team if they understood what you meant or not, and circle back on items that are unclear for you and them.

Final Thoughts on Remote Management

Remote team management has its own set of problems. However, the manager’s role is simple – keep employees productive and drive results. Work environment changes like these, while inevitable, don’t have to be more challenging. Keep the light load by being more empathetic and learn from the challenges you and your team might encounter along the way.