5 Disadvantages of a Virtual Assistant: What to Consider Before Hiring

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What are the disadvantages of a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistants are people who help you with a variety of tasks, such as scheduling appointments and answering emails. They are usually hired by businesses or individuals to perform these services, but you can also hire them yourself if you don't have the budget for a full-time employee.

It's a great option if you want to save time on tasks that don't require your full attention—such as responding to email inquiries or booking travel—and you can usually work with a VA remotely if you're not in the same city.

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a great way to save time and money. But there are some disadvantages to consider before you hire one.

In this article, we'll discuss what you need to consider before hiring one, as well as five disadvantages of having one.

Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: You know, you guys get to hear me talk all the time about building team and how great it is hiring virtual assistants. And you probably have asked this question of yourself, "Are there disadvantages of hiring virtual assistants?" 

Are there challenges with hiring virtual assistants? What are some of those? Stop telling me all the good stuff. Tell me some of those disadvantages too. Well, guess what, guys, here on Build Your Team today? That's exactly what we're going to dive into. What are the five or five of the disadvantages of hiring virtual assistants? 

Hey, everybody. Welcome to Build Your Team. I am your host, Atiba. And if you are a business owner who is looking to grow and expand your team and looking to grow in the virtual market, and more importantly, the virtual assistant market of bringing virtual assistants onto your team, then you are in the right place. 

Because today we're going to dive into Five of the Disadvantages of Hiring Virtual Assistance. And honestly what you can do to mitigate some of those risks. That's right. I'm not just going to leave you with disadvantages. We're also going to talk about how you can deal with them. So, before we jump in though, before we jump in, do me a favor. Do me a favor. Look down below and hit that like, and subscribe button for me right now. 

And without further ado, let's jump on in. So, disadvantage number one, Personal Interaction. Or let me rephrase that. A Lack of Personal Interaction, you know, when you hire people and you bring them into your office, it's really easy because they're in your office, you got an office space, it's yours. They show up, they have their desk or their own offices, you get to talk with them, you get to share stuff with them, you get to see them at the proverbial water cooler, and you get to know people in interpersonal relationships grow just because of proximity, because you're close to each other, because you spend eight, nine hours a day in the same place. Well, in the virtual environment that doesn't exist. 

It absolutely doesn't exist, but humans are made for community. Humans are made for community, so it's absolutely still important. You can't ignore the personal interaction, even in the virtual space. And this is one of the big mistakes that I see a lot of business owners who are hiring and turning to virtual or hybrid work models. 

They jump into a meeting and the first thing they want to do is all right, let's get this meeting started because that's how most meetings work in the physical environment, because you are already hanging out with each other and the meeting time is to be productive. So one of the lessons that I want to share with you today, one of the ways that you mitigate this is, when you have team meetings— so it doesn't have to be every single meeting. Okay. But when you have team meetings or group meetings, at least once a week, if not twice a week, start your meeting with a check-in. For us, we do this in our Friday meetings. We start with a check-in, "What were your wins?" And when we are asking about wins, I'm asking what were your personal wins for the week? 

Yes. Your personal wins things outside of work. What were your personal wins this week? And then what were your business wins? Because of course we are in business and we do care about that as well, but we blend the two of those and we check in with everybody. We see how are you doing. Yeah, it takes about 10, 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting.

But what it does is it creates camaraderie. What it does is it lets everyone know what's going on in everyone else's life. And that is how you can build those personal connections and that personal interaction. Okay, so that's number one. Number one challenge, the lack of personal interaction. How do you fix it? 

Start with your meetings that you do have and start asking people how they're doing. You don't have to do it the way I do, but ask people how they're doing and really check in and also share. I forgot to say this before. Share from yourself. So I tell my staff really what's going on in my life too. Share from yourself, it's not just about them. It's a two way street. Okay. So that's number one, number two, Limited Knowledge and Skills. Well, this is not just for virtual assistants. This is really for anyone you hire, but it plays a really important part when you're hiring virtual assistants. Because if you don't know the job that you want this individual to do for you to accomplish for you, if you're not really clear about that, then you're also not really clear if they have the skills to do it for you or not. And that's a major problem. So even though I'm phrasing this as a limited knowledge and skills on their part, that the virtual assistant may have limited knowledge of skills, the way you figure out or the way you resolve that challenge is by being crystal clear about what it is you are looking for, about what this job that you're hiring for entails. 

The next thing, number three, on the list. Number three, time zone issues. This is a big one. This is a big one because when you hire staff and you bring them in your physical office, you're all clearly working on the same time zone because you're all clearly physically together. But now if you're hiring staff from around the globe, like we do, we have staff all over the globe. 

Time zones become an issue. Because sometimes when it's your waking hours, it's their sleeping hours. And are you are going to require them to work or meet with you during their sleeping hours? And you kind of gotta think those types of things through. And the way you do this, getting back to what I said in point 2, is about being really, really clear about what this job is and what you expect of them, because what you expect of them, then defines one out of two ways that they can work. Synchronously, which is the way we traditionally, as business owners have had staff work, which is they're working at the same time we are or Asynchronously, which means that they may not be working at the same time that we are. And it's okay. So for example, if you hire a bookkeeper. 

Does it actually matter that they work the exact same hours as you? Why? They can do their work anytime. If they have a question, they can send it to you, you can answer it in their timeframe— I mean, in your time frame and then get it back to them and they go back to work. So yeah, a bookkeeper may be able to work asynchronously. 

However, let's say you hire a lawyer and you're working on a case then. Yeah, you may need them to work synchronously because you have to work together. There needs to be collaboration. Things need to happen in real time. So it really depends on the position. Okay. And so that's the number one thing when you're looking at time zone issues is consider the position and can they work synchronously or asynchronously, and if they can work a signal asynchronously, excuse me, then the question becomes, "What about the meeting times? When are we going to meet?" And so then you look at your time zone differences and figure out, "Are there times when we can meet that would be "convenient" for both of us?" And that's the question you have to ask and answer. And if the answer is no, if the answer is, "Hey, I need people to work synchronously with me and, or I need people to meet at, meet with me in a certain time frame" and because of their time zones, they can't, then my friend, you can't hire people who live in that time zone and that's okay. That's the beauty of hiring virtual assistants and going global. You can find a time zone where people work that match yours, if that's what you need. Okay. So must consider your time zones. 

Number four. Remote Work Isn't Always An Option. And this one should go without saying, but it baffles me. How many people run into this challenge and it's because once again, they didn't consider totally the job that they need done. Okay. Remote work may not be an option for a particular type of task.

And if remote work is not an option, then you shouldn't hire someone remote to do it. And if they're parts of a task that remote work, aren't an option and parts where it is, then you have to ask yourself, can I split this up? Can I hire, should I hire two people? And if the answer is no, you shouldn't hire two people.

It's really only one person who should be able to do this. Then it's not a remote work position. It's not a remote work position and that's O K. So, let me give you an example. I have a client right now who is looking to hire a videographer and a video editor. Okay. Well, clearly the videographer needs to be someone who can work synchronously in the same time zone and in the same location, because they're going to be videotaping the client. So they've gotta be there physically to do it in their environment. Okay, great. But what about the editing? Well, the editing is also part of that job, right? But the editing actually can be done asynchronously.

The editing can actually be done anywhere in the world. And so they're actually not looking at saying, "Hey, maybe we can split this into two positions. Maybe we hire someone who's really, really good at planning and shooting video, but maybe they're not so great at editing video. And then we can hire someone else, asynchronously who can take their plans, and their videos, the raw videos, and edit those videos into what we need." 

And so that's how you start to consider it. Okay. That's how you start to consider likewise, a lawyer. And going back to that example, let's say that this lawyer can do all of their briefs asynchronously, but you need them here to actually present the briefs in court. Well, maybe that needs to be one person.

And you can't split that job into two and that's okay too. But that's the evaluation that we as business owners have to be able to do. Okay. Then number five, number five. And this is the big one. And if you haven't kind of picked up on number five yet, let me make it real plain to you, Management Style. You cannot, you cannot manage people the same way in person as you do remote. You cannot manage virtual assistants like they exist inside of your office. Your management style has to be different. Couple of ways that your management style has to be different. Number one, you have to work harder to build relationships. With your staff that goes back to point number one that I made with you guys, the number one challenge, the lack of personal interaction, you have to work harder.

It's on you. It's incumbent upon you as the business owner or you as the manager of these people to build relationships with them. That is now part of your job. And I know that's not something that traditionally we as business owners have to take on. It could even be said it was up to the employee to try to forge relationship with their bosses in the virtual first, in a virtual assistant market.

That's not the case. It's up to us to forge a relationship with them. It's up to us. That leads me to the next thing. You must practice patience in your communication. That's patience with yourself and patients with your staff. You must expect miscommunication. You must expect that sometimes you're going to give a task and it's not going to be done correctly. 

And you're going to have to evaluate and realize it's because I didn't communicate well. It's because I wasn't clear about what my expectations were. And that leads me right into the third thing in terms of management style, which is less meetings, more processes. I'm not saying meetings aren't necessary. 

They absolutely are. They absolutely are. But what needs to happen is less talking in meetings and more processes. Stop giving direction in meetings and start creating processes for people to follow. Now, why is that so important? Because when someone follows your process and the outcome is not what you expected, you can go back to the process and figure out where things went wrong. 

What that does for you getting back to the communication, what that does for you, is it forces or allows— depending on how you want to look at it, both you and the virtual assistant to point to the process as the problem, not each other. Not the humans, the process. So we can fix the process so that the humans have better outcomes.

Versus the old way of, "Well, I told you this and I told you that and I told you, and I explained this to you. What didn't you understand about what I explained?" It could be a lot, could be a lot. Guys, we're meeting virtually, you know how many times we have virtual meetings and sometimes because you're over Zoom or Google Meet or whatever channel you're on the audio cuts out and they may have missed a critical word? 

And then they did the completely wrong thing because the audio cut out and they didn't even realize that they missed a critical word? That's why we have to create processes because when it's written down, now we're following a process and people and say, okay, this is what I followed. And this was my result. 

If the result is wrong, we can go back to the process and fix the process. So that's how we also master our communication. Right? Less meetings, more process. So guys, those are five challenges, five challenges you're facing, but I also gives you ways to solve them so that they're no longer challenges. They don't have to be challenges. 

If you haven't yet, jumped into the virtual assistant market, if you haven't hired your first virtual assistant, it's time. It's time. I've got tons of videos on this child to help you with that. To think through what you need to do, if you have any questions, drop me a line. I'd be glad to answer your questions. 

Okay. I'd be absolutely happy to answer your questions. I've been in the virtual assistant industry in terms of hiring virtual assistants and having virtual staff on my team since 2013 or 2014. So I've been doing this for a very long time. The very few things that I haven't faced already. So by all means, feel free to ask questions, drop them in the chat, down below on YouTube. 

Or if you're on the podcast, you can come over to the YouTube channel. We've got a link to the YouTube channel and drop me a question there as well. Alright, everybody. I will talk to you guys real soon. Bye bye.

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