How A Remote Workplace Can Increase Productivity

We’ve all been there…you have a deadline to meet and end up with constant interruptions throughout the day:

  • Sally’s dog died.
  • You’ve been summoned to 3 conference calls that were mandatory for your 5 minutes of input.
  • Joe wants to grab lunch.
  • Sue needs help with her computer.

Sound familiar? Needless to say you’re behind the ball at the end of the day and now have to put in those extra hours to try and catch up. I remember those days only too well.

I’m a huge advocate of having a flexible office. Although I have a client that I go on location once a week for, the majority of my work is done from home. Having the interaction with people when I’m on location, and being able to run the rest of my business from home is a great balance for me.

I was reading a HubSpot blog recently on How to Find Your Flow: A Simple Guide to Better Concentration & Higher Productivity. Below are some facts taken from the infographic from Online Course Report showing how these interruptions affect our day when working in an office:

  • The average worker experiences an interruption every 3 minutes.
  • It typically takes 23 minutes to return to the original task.
  • In a recent study, the average worker only works 3 days a week due to interruptions and/or office meetings.

The other part of this infographic was on the subject of multi-tasking. Some people boast that they get so much done by being able to multitask…but are you really giving it your all? Here are some facts to consider:

  • Multi tasking = a 40% decline in productivity.
  • When you attempt to juggle your set tasks with emails and phone calls, your IQ suffers with a 10 point drop!
  • This is the equivalent of missing an entire night’s sleep.

Now take that same workday and put yourself at home. Sally’s dog still died, but you’re not hearing about it. Joe has to grab lunch on his own, and Sue looks to someone else for that computer help. Doesn’t your day look more productive already? You may not be able to control the conference calls, but you have more control over your day when you’re not in an office setting.

There will always be a distraction of some sort, whether you work from home or in an office…but being able to turn off the phone when you’re trying to get something done, and not being present for in-person interruptions can help lead the way to increased productivity. There’s much to be said for human interaction, and remote working isn’t for everyone. But when you have an important project to complete or deadline to meet, taking the work away from the office can help you stay ahead of the game. When you need to play catch up, consider taking a day at home to get it done.

If you’re looking for someone to help you put an end to multi-tasking, or trying to decide between hiring an in-house assistant or a virtual assistant, give us a call at Elite Virtual Assistants. We can help you decide the best strategy for your business!

Freelance vs. Agency: 6 Benefits A Virtual Assistant Agency Provides

One of the big questions that come to mind when trying to decide on hiring virtual assistance of any kind is whether to hire a freelance VA or utilize an agency. There are pros and cons to both, depending on what you’re looking for, how much time you have to invest in the process, and how much money your budget allows.

The bottom line is that you’re going to spend a little more going through an agency than hiring a freelance Virtual Assistant.  If dollars are the biggest hurdle you’re encountering, take a minute to think about what you’re getting and what you’ll have to go through to get it. Pricing is typically the biggest hurdle in any type of purchase, whether it’s a service or good.  You know the old saying, “you get what you pay for”?

Freelance

I was talking to a colleague of mine who is a district manager for a cosmetics company. We were talking about wages and how the bottom line for many companies will always come down to the dollar amount they’re spending instead of the quality of work they’re getting. As an example, her company allowed her to hire a virtual assistant, but would only reimburse her for paying that VA for 8 hours a week at minimum wage. She is now working on hiring her 3rd virtual assistant, as the first 2 haven’t worked out.

She mentioned how much time she had to spend herself on finding the assistants, placing ads, interviewing and then training. The other hurdle was only being able to offer minimum wage; this didn’t bring in the experience she was looking for. Now that she is again looking for another assistant, she is feeling frustrated and has lost quite a bit of time through the process. This situation boils down to loss of wages and selling time for her, which in the end is less sales for the company. This isn’t always the case, but it is just one example of how this hiring process, coupled with the low wages can turn into a long, drawn out process.

If you tend to be a DIY type of person and have the time to handle this process yourself, the freelance option does allows you flexibility with pricing and the ability to look at a wider range of candidates. There are many different places you can look for a freelance Virtual Assistant like LinkedIn, VA forums,  or even placing an ad on Craigs List.

Agency

Using an agency to hire a Virtual Assistant may come at a higher price, but it also comes with some advantages. I don’t know about you, but when I am shopping for anything, whether a service or a good, and have too many options, it makes me feel overwhelmed. Using an agency takes that overwhelming feeling and brings it down to a much more manageable level.

The big question is: What do I get for my money going through an agency? There are several benefits an agency provides, such as:

  1. Consulting. Most agencies will provide an initial consultation to help them place you with the right VA, help decide what types of tasks the VA can handle for maximum efficiency, and how many hours you should need on a monthly basis. At our agency (EVA) we provide ongoing consulting through the entire relationship with our clients.
  2. Experienced Virtual Assistants. Having experience working as a VA is important in understanding how a virtual relationship works, and the different programs and apps to use for virtual success.
  3. Back-Up. Life is not perfect; and neither is every virtual relationship. There are times that the relationship between a client and Virtual Assistant may not work out for whatever reason, or maybe they move on at some point to do other things. Instead of having to start from square one and begin the search, hiring and training process all over again, agencies will have other experienced VA’s that will be able to jump in as soon as the next day and get started.
  4. Training. Many times the agency offers training for their VA’s to keep up-to-date with the latest apps and programs.
  5. Contracts. You can come up with your own contract for your virtual relationship, but an agency will have a contract that is in place with both the VA and the client. This is not only to protect the VA and the agency, but also to protect the client’s information and maintain confidentiality.
  6. Happy VA’s. Does that sound funny? But YES, you want your VA to be happy, don’t you? Take a minute and ask yourself a question: Would you be happy making $8-10 an hour? People who are paid well for their experience and enjoy their work are productive, efficient and happy VA’s.

Agencies are a benefit not just to the client searching for a Virtual Assistant, but also for the VA’s themselves. It’s a challenging process looking for work as a Virtual Assistant, much like the process of looking for a job in a conventional office. Agencies allow VA’s an option of what clients to work with and even to choose the amount of hours they’d like to work.

If you have the time and patience to do the hiring process yourself, and your budget is the biggest thing holding you back, then using a freelance Virtual Assistant may be the better choice for you. When time is what you’re lacking, an agency can help you make the right choice in a more efficient manner.

When you’re searching for a doctor or lawyer, is your first concern if they’re the cheapest, or they’re the best? Why would you trust your business with anything less than that? Give us a call today at (440) 973-7005, or visit our website, and we can help you sort through the noise!

How I Ended My Struggle with Accountability

Do you find that you have the drive to keep yourself going, but lack the organization and follow up you need to be really successful? Do you tend to lend blame to others or even certain circumstances when you fall short? It happens to the best of us. If you’re a one-person show…who is making you accountable to get things done? And if you don’t get them done, are you taking responsibility or shifting the blame? Businessdictionary.com defines accountability as: The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

Many people find themselves struggling with accountability, regardless of their profession. You may seek a business coach to help you, as they can guide you on the path for success, giving you the motivation you need. Many people, like myself, require that constant push to get ahead and keep moving forward. But what happens when the coaching is over? This is where having an “accountability partner” comes into play for me. Just like having a workout buddy helps you stay motivated and focused on getting or staying in shape, having a partner that can help you grow your business can work the same way.

I’ve made two changes over the last year to help me with my own accountability. The first was having a partner in my business. Danae and I talk twice each week; once at the beginning of the week to set our goals and decide on a game plan, and again at the end of the week to see where we’re at and what our results were. The second was hiring a Virtual Assistant to help us get the tasks done within our game plan, which helps to keep us both on track along the way. The rule we’ve used for our Virtual Assistant is to outsource what we can teach, and the rest we do ourselves. We make sure we’re clear with the results we’re looking for, and the time frame we need it done. Our VA is held accountable for her tasks, and Danae and I are accountable for ours.

I was listening to Jeffrey Hayzlett on Doug Sandler’s Podcast  the other day and he mentioned something that was funny, but true. He said we need to “get rid of the squirrels”. It’s so easy to get distracted and lose your focus, which many times means a task or project goes unfinished or is delayed longer than it needs to be. Personally, knowing that someone is holding me accountable makes me 99 times more likely to have that done than if I held only myself accountable for those tasks.

Whether you’re looking for accountability for yourself or for someone you’re working with, try implementing the guidelines I follow:

  1. Have a clear vision
  2. Understand the expected results
  3. Decide on your game plan
  4. Accept responsibility for your actions

If you find yourself needing that extra push, try finding yourself an “accountability partner”. It’s helped me more than I ever realized it would!

 

 

How A Social Media Calendar Can Help Your Digital Marketing Campaign Get On The Right Track

Do you find yourself scrambling at the beginning of the day or week wondering what you’re going to post on your social channels and what direction your digital campaign will take? What your blog will be about? What emails you’ll be sending out? Whether you’re a small business or 1-man show, we all find ourselves in this predicament more often than not.

This time consuming task can be overwhelming, but with the right planning and template in place, you can organize your ideas a week or a month in advance to help keep your campaign consistent and running smoothly.

Using a template not only helps you plan your theme for the week, but also gives you easy access to look back and see what you’ve posted in the past. When you’re short on time or just need some extra posts to fill, go back a few months or even a year and reuse something you used previously that’s relevant to what you’re doing that week. I have found this to be the easiest way to save time on my weekly campaigns. Write out your blog first, if you don’t blog (which you really should!), write out the ideas or theme you want to use for the week. Then take pieces of that to plan the posts for your social media channels. You’ll be surprised at the time this can save you.

Download your free social media calendar template here

The template I use and have shared with you is adapted from Andrew Macarthy’s template that he offers on his website, and is broke down into the different channels. You can adjust this to fit your campaign accordingly:

Blog. Let your blog idea set the theme for your social media campaign that week. Make sure you have several ideas you can pick out and share on your different channels.

Social Media Channels. Once you have your blog done or theme in place, you should have plenty of pieces you can take out and use for your social media postings. Depending on how often you post, the calendar may be enough to log all of your ideas and links. If you post several times a day on different channels, you can use the calendar to plan out your ideas for the week, and then schedule your posts to run through a social media management platform like Hootsuite or Buffer.

Email. If you send out a weekly or monthly email, you can use one of your blog topics to create your email campaign.

If you have someone helping with your marketing campaign, you can put your ideas down for each channel for the week on the social media calendar. This will give them direction for the campaign and they can start doing the research to find the images, ideas and posts.

Digital marketing is not something you should be doing…it’s something you must be doing to keep up these days. It’s not a magical marketing tool that will produce overnight results, but it is something, that used consistently over time with proper planning, will build a relationship with your target audience.

If you already have a system in place that you’re using, how is it working? If you need help implementing your campaigns, give us a call!