Know who you are dealing with
Before you hire any virtual staff, it is important to know who you are hiring. If you are hiring a professional service do they have a website and a business email? Can they provide testimonials of successful clients? Go through a normal interview process either via a phone call or video message (It is best to try and video call as you get a chance to ‘meet’ each other). All virtual staff will have the systems in place to be able to video interview. Are they who they say they are? Can you find a linkedin professional profile for them? If hiring for a specific project, ask for samples of similar work or campaigns.
It’s the same as hiring any employee, you wouldn’t hire just anyone for you valued business so be sure you know who you are dealing with.
Know where you both stand
Once you’ve found your ideal virtual candidate, it’s important to lay out the laws. Confirm payment terms, terms of service and length of projects. Have you agreed means of communication. Will your Virtual staff be a representative of your company – have a company specific email etc. You can set these rules in SLA’s, contracts etc. most virtual workers will already have their own versions of these documents to enable you to see how they like to work.
Treat them like you would anyone in your team
They may be virtual but they are not robots. If they do a good job, tell them! If you are not happy with something, tell them! It can be daunting when first dealing with someone for your business in a virtual manner but the reality is it is just the same as having an employee on the other side of an office wall (just less small talk at lunch time!)
Ask the right questions
Particularly when interviewing, get to the point, time is important in the virtual world. Don’t be irrelevant. Ask the questions that you want to get the answers to and that can benefit you and your business.
Set clear guidelines
Don’t assume they know how you work. You need to ensure you are both singing from the same hymn sheet in order for the relationship to be a success and laying out exact guidelines will enable you both to do this.
Set realistic timescales
Keep it real! Virtual workers are generally better value for money in terms of you are only paying them for the time they are working for you and not sick, holiday, making a cup of tea etc.! however they still work the same speed as someone in a physical office, therefore keep the task timescales realistic and achievable. This will be beneficial to them (no one likes working under unnecessary pressure) and to you, if they don’t feel your timescales are realistic they will be looking for the next client who’s are!
Invest in them
Your Virtual staff member can be a huge investment for you. If you spend the time training them properly and introducing them to new training opportunities within your business you will reap the benefits. The more time you put into them when starting with training, etc. the better results you will get out of your virtual worker throughout your relationship.
If you take the time hiring the right candidate and making sure they are legit, you then need to let go and trust them to do what they do. They are professionals at what they do so if they need a password for an account- give it to them! Trust them with your client information just as you would any worker but make sure you have the correct procedures in place to cover yourself, a privacy agreement or Non discloser agreement will help with security and all professional workers will have these.
Check everything is in place
As mentioned above check you have everything in place, a contract, an SLA, a signed privacy statement etc. Keep copies filed. If you have agreed payment via invoice confirm the procedure for payment and ensure you have a smooth system. If they are not invoicing, you ensure they are set up on your payroll. Make sure they have access to the systems you need and can efficiently sign in to them with user names passwords etc.
Agree on communication
If you don’t like to be contacted on your phone agree to email only, if you like face to face contact then agree a weekly Skype chat. You may even prefer instant message. Will you use screen sharing apps or will you just send work via email? Virtual workers sometimes deal with many clients that all like to communicate in different ways so make sure you agree how you will communicate work.
Mentioned above, if your virtual worker is doing a good job, tell them. Not only that, if they deserve a pay raise give them one. You can build great relationships with your virtual worker and rewarding their success will go a long way.
Say Hi once in a while
Schedule to have the odd Skype or video chat and say hi to each other this will make your worker feel valued and be a great chance for you to iron out any niggles, ask or answer some questions in a quick informal manner.
Ask how you can help them
Your virtual worker spends most the time working for you (all be it paid time!) but you can also help your virtual worker. Offer to give them a review to help boost their business, spread a good word to people you know that may also require their services, there may be something you can do for them in return for some free work.
You may not be your Virtual workers only client, they may have a business and you are one of many valued clients to them. Be respectful of this and allow for them to plan the work they do for you. If you suddenly decide to up their hours by double be mindful that they may need to plan this around their other tasks. Don’t always expect them to be able to drop their time to do a task for you or if that’s the way you like to work, agree that with them when starting out your working relationship.
Having a virtual worker is a fantastic asset to your team and can really assist with business growth and revenue when done properly.
Contact us today to see how we can help you!