How I Managed My Virtual Assistants: Tools for Success

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Virtual assistants have helped small businesses and consumers alike by providing a way to cut through the clutter of time-consuming tasks, freeing up valuable resources, and allowing people to focus on what they do best.

I'm a business owner, and I've been managing virtual assistants for years now to help with my business. It's one of the most important things I do as a business owner, and it's definitely not easy getting started—it took me a long time to find the right set of tools that fit my needs, but now that I have them, they're invaluable.

Today, we'll discuss how I manage my Virtual Assistants and what tools I use.

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Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: Now working in a distributed environment has its challenges. Absolutely! There's no doubt about it. Whether that's regular staff or virtual assistants. There are tons of challenges. And one of those challenges is how do you manage all of these people who are working remotely? What are the tools that you use? How do you-- yeah! It can be an awful lot. So today here on the Build Your Team show, I'm going to at least give you a framework of some of the tools that I use to manage my remote teams and my remote staff. 

Hey, everybody! My name is Atiba and welcome to the show! Let's dive right on into this topic, talking about the different tools.

Now, when you're looking at these tools, number one, there are certain categories of tools that we're going to look at. And then there are going to be certain categories of tools that we're not going to cover today, because they're going to be industry specific to you. And you're going to have to figure those out because I can't answer those for you. I can just kind of give you, and map some of the bigger picture, okay? The bigger picture. 

So if for my staff that's overseas, let's talk about payment, okay? There are options for payment depending on where your staff is. So for my staff that's here in the US, obviously we can do things like direct deposit and those types of things. For my overseas staff, we use Wise. That's Wise.Com. We use Wise. It's, it does sort of a direct deposit as well. You can even set it up on an automatic payment if you're paying the same amount every single week, month, or whatever your interval is. And they are great cause they charge the least amount of fees that I've seen of any system online to pay your overseas staff. 

And one of the things you have to be very careful of when you're paying your overseas staff is, sometimes you're going to get charged a fee for making the payment. And then sometimes they may also get charged a fee for receiving the money. That's not a good feeling for your staff. So that's one of the reasons why I use Wise because they don't charge my staff any fee for being paid. Because that's just an awful feeling for them, okay? So, Wise, dealing with payment. That's my, one of my tools that I, that I use there. 

Now let's talk about communication and by the way, every tool that we talk about today, I'm going to put a link down below for you, okay? So let's talk about communication tools. We use WhatsApp mostly if we're doing text message communication. Love WhatsApp. It works with Facebook. That's great because Facebook owns it. It's easy, it's free and pretty much everybody in the world has access to it. And most of the people in the world already use it. So we use WhatsApp a ton for communication. Now it does have some limitations because obviously it is not great for file sharing. It's not really great for message history or creating message topics and that type of thing. And for those types of things, for some of my remote staff, we use Slack, okay? Now slack is a paid service. You can use the free version, but we use the paid service and you pay per user, et cetera, et cetera. But you can do a ton more with Slack in terms of actual communication and sharing of information than you can with WhatsApp. 

And then for video communication, we use Zoom. I mean, who isn't today? Right? Well, I guess there are some people who use Google Meet, but I don't use Google Meet. I know you can record Google Meet. Not everybody is a Google user, which is a little bit weird to me. It is, when someone doesn't have a Gmail account, that is a little weird to me. But anyway, I digress. We use Zoom just as, as our standard. I record all of my meetings on Zoom. And we record them, especially for distributed staff because then we take them and we put them up on a private, here's a keyword, private, so nobody else can access it, YouTube channel where the staff can go back and watch those videos, okay? 

So these are some of the things I do. And now one of the questions that people ask all the time is, okay, so you record those meetings on Zoom and then you put them up on this private channel, man, that must take a lot of time. You gotta download them, you gotta upload them and do all of that. No, it doesn't because we use Okay and I'll put a link for that down below as well. Repurpose is absolutely genius in that you can tell it: here's my Zoom account, here's my YouTube account, here-- and not even just my YouTube account, here are YouTube channels, and you can tell it to publish from Zoom to YouTube, and it will even do it automatically for you. Yeah! Absolutely genius! So it, it doesn't take me any time. Repurpose. I set it up, it manages the whole thing for me. So that's how we handle communications on my team. 

Now calendar management. There are tons of tools that do calendar management. Personally, I am a Calendly fan. Calendly is simple. It's flexible. It does a lot. I kinda like it. The user interface is simple to work with, the links that it gives you for your calendar make sense. You know I used to use Acuity, but their links, they were just a mess. They didn't make sense. There were long, they were cumbersome and it was just clunky.

Now my wife on the other hand loves Acuity. So part of this whole thing is I'm telling you what we do, but you still have to go out and figure out what's really going to work well for you and your personality and your team. 

Okay. Now let's jump into task management. Task management. And this is a big one. This is a big one because they're going to be doing a lot of tasks. They're going to be doing a lot of stuff. How do you know and keep track of what they're doing? So we've used Trello and Airtable for those purposes pretty much forever, okay? Pretty much forever. The thing that I loved about Trello was you can create a board. And so for every single team member, they had their own board. And on that board, we were able to put, you know the things that were open, what they were working on, et cetera, et cetera, the things that they've completed. And we can do even some communication through Trello. So it was an easy place for me to go and see what every single person was doing. So I've loved Trello for that, and for that purpose. 

Airtable, on the other hand, is great because it manages a little bit more data and the relationships between data, okay? So there are specific tasks that we only do in Airtable because they're very data intensive, right? Where we're analyzing data and that type of thing and Trello just can't handle that. So we do those things in Airtable. 

Now we're currently, currently, so there's nothing wrong with Trello, but because of some of our greater needs, we're currently in the process of switching to Notion at the time of this recording, okay? We're switching to Notion, which acts like Trello. It does a lot of the stuff that Trello does. It also does a lot of the stuff that Airtable does. And it adds in a project management component, all in one. So we're currently switching to Notion, okay? So that's how we manage our tasks.

Now last but not least. And this is the one that I know a lot of people have been waiting for. Especially since I started off with how do you pay people? Because if you're going to ask how you pay people, then you're probably wondering, okay, how do you track their time? How do you track people's time that are working for you that you cannot see? Because you don't know really, when did they show up to work and when did they leave? So there's some great track-- time tracking tools out there. The one that we use is Harvest. Now I like Harvest because yes, it will do time tracking. The employee can log what they're doing. Press "start", it will track the time and then they press "end", and it keeps track of how long they did each task.

Why I love that is because what my staff do for me is they send me the PDF of their time log, so I can see where they're spending their time. So if there's something that seems like it's taking too long, I have a really great view of that because I can see it on your time log, okay? So I love Harvest. It's really inexpensive. Depending on the size of your team, it's even free! So Harvest is, is wonderful! And there is a link down below. 

Now for other organizations that may be a little bit larger or even want a little bit more control, there's Time Doctor. Now Time Doctor is more expensive, but it gives you more control in that with Time Doctor, you can go as far as recording the session when your employee is on. So not just that they hit start and stop, and they told you how long they started and stopped. But in Time Doctor, it will actually screen record what they are doing. So you can take that analysis of why did it take you so long to do this? Or how are you getting this done so quickly? Even further by watching what they did. 

Now, let me just be honest with you, I ain't got time to do that, okay? One of the things with me is I, I work very hard to build really great trust for my team. And, and in building really great trust with my team, it means I don't want to micromanage you to that point. I'm going to trust that you're doing your work and you're getting it done in an efficient manner. 

If I see something that seems like it's taken too long, we'll talk about this. You'll tell me what you're doing and we'll figure out how to help you be better. But I'm not going to go back and watch why did it take you three hours to do this? I'm not going to watch it. I don't have the time. I might have to hire an assistant to do that if that's what I wanted to do. Now, that being said, there are some industries and there are some, some things where you're going to want to watch it, where it's going to be required, so great! Time Doctor is wonderful for you. 

My point being very simple. You've got to figure out in all of these tools, what's going to work well for you, your team, and the way you guys work.

That's my tech stack. My technology stack of what we use internally. The different tools that we use internally. So we had WhatsApp, Slack, Zoom,, Calendly, Trello, Notion, Airtable, and Harvest. And I added in Time Doctor because it is a wonderful program. It absolutely is wonderful, but we don't use it, okay? Because I just, I don't have the need for it. But that's me, you might. 

I hope this was helpful for you. I hope this helped move the needle for you. And I hope this gets you closer to hiring and/or managing well, the team that you have right now. 

All right, everybody! If you have any questions as always drop them down below. Glad to answer them. Talk to you later. Bye-bye!

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