Time drains sneak up on you.
It seems like it was just yesterday you made the decision to hire a virtual assistant, and now you have dozens of people across time zones working on different projects at different times.
On the surface, you may be elated by how much time you’re saving by utilizing a virtual workforce. But the unsettling reality is that dozens or hundreds of hours of time might be getting consistently wasted due to your virtual team’s time management.
After all, time is money, particularly when you have multiple people on the clock.
The following article explores the importance of virtual assistant time management for large organizations, how you can improve their VA team's performance, and tools that make managing your team less time-consuming.
The Importance of Time Management
The same 24-hour clock binds all people and organizations, and those that make the most out of their time tend to rise to the top.
If you're reading this article and already rely on -- are thinking about using -- virtual assistant services, we probably don't need to discuss the conceptual value of time management.
However, it's easy to overlook the scale simple productivity tweaks can have on your business: shaving just five minutes off a repetitive process can unlock thousands or even millions of dollars in annual revenue for many enterprise-level organizations.
Time management is essential if you are managing large teams of virtual assistants. Time, attendance, vacation, breaks, and other activities can become daunting to manage effectively . And, if left unchecked for too long, thousands of hours of valuable time can slip through the cracks.
How to Optimize the Management of Virtual Assistants
The key to virtual assistant time management is finding a balance between keeping your virtual assistants as productive as possible while ensuring all the important tasks they’re doing don’t diminish in quality.
A simple enough equation, but one that can be challenging in practice.
The bulk of wasted virtual assistant time stems from poor planning, lacking direction, and inadequate screening. It's a tall order to ask an entire virtual team to deliver perfection when effective systems and structures are absent .
Yes, productivity software can help you optimize your virtual assistant time management; but optimization also depends on a strong, consistent foundation.
This means time management shouldn’t be thought of in isolation or quick fixes a shortcut is not a time management hack.
Proper virtual assistant systems and structures aren’t built on cutting corners – they are built on the most effective way to complete tasks, clarity on time required, and then constantly benchmarking performance.
One clear final deliverable
Better management and productivity in your business start with explicitly defining what that perfect final deliverable is in concrete and “un-mess-upable” terms.
When you know what the final outcome must look like, it makes charting the path to get there clearer, more efficient and less prone to time slippage.
So, before pushing a new process to your virtual assistant team, start by demonstrating what the final deliverable must look like, then break down the process to get there into a simple step-by-step list.
Each step should have a concrete completion point before moving to the next. And, when each is followed to a tee, the final outcome expected will be near-guaranteed every time.
The right person for the job
Proper time management begs the question, for whom? It all starts with having the right virtual assistant for the job.
Determine which skill sets the current task requires, and delegate those specific tasks to a virtual assistant with the most complimentary skillset.
There are hundreds of different virtual assistant jobs and a “one size fits all” approach is inevitably going to lead to extreme inefficiencies.
For example, a research-savvy virtual assistant will be best for tasks that require finding the information you need. In contrast, if it’s real-time customer service you need, that’s the specialty you need to hire for..
Devise the perfect plan
Dwight Eisenhower once said, "planning is everything, the plan is nothing."
In other words, a plan isn’t worth much until it’s proven to work. An excellent virtual assistant plan not only teaches your virtual assistants what to do, but how to think.
Getting feedback on how your virtual assistants perceive each step involved with completing their work requires opening a feedback loop.
Have a friend or another member of your team perform the step-by-step list themselves before handing it over to a virtual assistant. Give them the same onboarding context as you would your virtual assistants. Once complete, analyze whether your plan worked as expected, solicit feedback and refine before putting it into action via your virtual assistant team.
You should know your process backward and forwards before taking it to virtual assistants, and then consistently testing and iterating as new performance data enters the fray.
Data is your friend
To truly understand how effective your virtual assistants are, you need data on your side.
Data lets you objectively understand how virtual assistants use their time and their productivity levels. No more relying on hunches or assumptions.
Productivity software such as Insightful makes it possible for businesses to monitor individual and team productivity over specific periods (such as the time when a new cohort of virtual assistants joined your team), benchmark top performers (to understand why they excel, and why others aren’t), and support employee overall wellbeing.
At the end of the day, every aspect of your virtual assistant workforce comes down to processes, even the process of how you evaluate time management.
Employee productivity monitoring tools with a user-friendly KPI dashboard, like that of Insightful, allow you to gauge virtual workforce performance while simultaneously maintaining a feedback loop to enhance it.
The objectivity of the data you get from the virtual assistant software cuts through the noise that comes with a hustling and bustling virtual assistant workforce to accurately see how effective and efficient your processes are.
This continuous flow of real-time data that software like Insightful provides makes it easier for organizations to model and reward best performers based on their productivity.
It drives employee and team growth, via data-backed transparency that helps virtual assistant teams gauge their own performance.
By letting the data speak for itself, organizations are able to see bottlenecks and average task accomplishment rates so that they can better help their virtual assistants stay healthy and motivated.