Think about your to-do list. There’s likely tasks piling up. Only those that rise to the top because they can no longer be delayed get done. Often times, this delay causes something that might have been inexpensive to increase in cost. For example, putting off scheduling the furnace cleaning may lead to needing to have the furnace replaced. It’s also pretty likely that you’re not going to ask for help with these seemingly “small” tasks. You don’t want to bother people, or maybe you’re not sure who to ask. Lucky for you, that’s where a personal assistant comes in.
Even with the right tools and adequate planning, virtual teams in the workplace can pose unique challenges for global companies of all sizes. An experienced talent development firm can help companies navigate the trials that come with virtual collaboration across cultural boundaries. Choose to work with a firm with a validated inventory in the market and a proven record for success.
In all fairness, despite its glorious perks, being a personal assistant is not for everybody. You often need to sacrifice your own hopes and dreams for the sake of the person you work for, but making that sacrifice might just be the one thing that helps you reach something you never even dreamed of achieving. Just think about Pepper Potts in Iron Man: she started off as an assistant but ended up being in charge of the entire Stark Industries.
Movies and TV shows from the likes of Devil Wears Prada to Rules of Engagement make us laugh and feel sorry for the personal assistants. Their lives are consumed by ego-maniacal tyrants paying them no more than a couple of funny pennies per hour. Luckily, apart from the odd unfortunate exception, the reality is much different. Yes, sometimes personal assistants are asked to do menial tasks ranging from the humiliating to the humdrum, and they are often asked to be on duty round the clock, but it usually pays off in more ways than one.
An automation service. Most jobs include at least a small amount of repetitive tasks that don’t require your personal input, such as transferring information from an email to a calendar or copying and pasting information onto a spreadsheet. For such tasks that use a lot of time and hinder overall productivity, consider an automation service. When simple tasks are automated, more time becomes available for tasks that do require your personal input. IFTTT and Zapier are examples of excellent automation services.
Level of interaction and communication. Analytics make it easy to determine which employees are interacting and communicating. Managers can track whether or not remote workers are engaging, and use that information to determine whether remote work is right for their company. Besides time tracking software to monitor employees’ time spent working, managers can use project management software to ask for updates and view communication between team members. Intelligent software offers employers a way to digitally monitor employees’ behavior and discover patterns about their progress, or lack thereof. For example, sociometric analysis measures how social relationships affect productivity.
Make building trust a priority. Trust is the foundation of a successful team, but trust is usually built over time. When working in a virtual team, there isn’t always time to build a rapport with team members. You might be part of a group and have no idea about the other people’s work ethics or anything about their personal lives. It’s important to promote team bonding in order to build trust. You can approach this in a few ways, such as setting aside time for small talk before or after meetings, and allowing participants to share photographs and information about their personal lives. Virtual events such as a baby shower, birthday, or job anniversary celebration make for great informal activities to promote trust and teamwork. Consistency in updates and reports also helps to build trust with and among remote employees.
Use varied channels of communication. There are many ways to communicate virtually. Lean methods include emails, chat messages, and texting. If you have a simple message to share, a lean method of communication is usually fine. If you have something deeper or more complicated to share, it’s better to opt for a richer method of communication, such as video conference or telephone call. These methods add more contextual information like facial expressions and body language, which can be very telling in a conversation.
Personal assistant’s possess quite a bit of power over their employers’ lives knowing all about the people they meet, the deals they make and what they keep hidden inside that locked desk drawer (…creepy, perhaps?) . Assistants also get to meet some of the most successful and talented people of their respective fields. That’s an amazing opportunity to learn and establish important relations every single day. Having constant access to the latest news and having all the people involved just a phone call away is a great opportunity to make a real, positive difference in both your own and other people’s lives.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.