Best Delegation Practices for a Virtual or Remote Team Member
In today’s workplace, 45% of employees work from their homes. With those statistics, chances are you have found yourself working alongside, or even hiring and managing a virtual team member. To some, virtual delegation can seem like more of a hassle than it’s worth, but when done right, can be a highly effective use of resources that can lead to overall productivity improvement. These are 7 best practices to follow when delegating to a virtual or remote team member:
- Spend time upfront onboarding.
Like any employee, a virtual employee will be most productive once he or she has fully onboarded to organizational culture, processes, and strategies. However, a virtual employee's onboarding only consists of formal onboarding meetings, and misses out on valuable hallway chatter and impromptu meetings. For this reason, it’s important to make those initial onboarding sessions as valuable as possible. Spending this time upfront, can help your virtual employee produce higher quality work from the get-go, without coming back and forth to you with questions.
- Develop a communication plan.
Developing and enforcing for: frequency of meetings and via what medium, guidelines for meeting discussions, deadline requirements, and more. Bringing everyone on the same page before work begins can prevent communication breakdowns in the future.
- Plan appropriate work to be delegated.
While most tasks can be delegated virtually, there are some types of work that just lend better to being physically present. To choose tasks that are right for virtual delegation, look for no need for physical presence (like scheduling, research, or anything using a computer) and tasks that are straightforward, or can be explained fully upfront. Additionally, if you’re working with a virtual employee that has part-time hours, like a virtual assistant, make sure not to delegate intensive, time-bound projects that may exceed their weekly hours.
- Utilize collaboration tools.
One challenge to working with a virtual employee is document management and collaboration. When two or more people are working to create the same document and that document exists as a saved file, that means each party will have to wait for their colleague to finish editing before they can begin work. This inbox shuffle can lead to serious version control issues. Using collaboration tools, like Google Docs, eliminates that risk and saves time by enabling multiple colleagues to complete work at the same time. Project management tools, like Asana, allow groups to stay on target by sharing tasks, documents and deadlines. Additionally, many chat tools, like Slack, also have the ability to hold impromptu video meetings as well as instant messaging to collaborate instantaneously.
- Hold effective meetings.
When working with virtual employees, you need to ensure that the time you have with them is being used effectively. Come to meetings prepared with clear agendas and issues to be discussed. Use technology to bridge the physical gap and create screenshare environments or video chats. Also, be mindful of any time zone differences.
- Measure employee output.
One of the biggest fears of using virtual employees is that they won’t be productive, or what productive even means in each case. It’s critical to determine which KPIs best suit the projects you’ve assigned your virtual employee and implement a system to track them. For example, if you’ve delegated data entry work, a productivity metric might be records updated per hour. Additionally, using a project management system to track progress and deadlines can give insight into productivity.
- Remember to keep it social.
Collaboration and communication is easier with someone you feel you know, even if you’ve never physically met. Get to know your virtual employee and make sure to stay available for them.
Remote employees or virtual teammates, like virtual assistants, can help you improve productivity and allocate resources strategically. Delegating work to virtual employees is much like delegating to employees physically present, but it’s important to plan and communicate appropriately throughout the process.
If you’re ready to improve your productivity by delegating tasks and feel a virtual employee is right for you, virtual assistants are a great option. Dedicated virtual assistants allow you to outsource or delegate tasks just as you would to a full-time internal hire, though you get to choose how many hours you need them to work. Virtual assistants have a variety of skills in administrative assistance, bookkeeping, scheduling, translations, even web design and management (almost anything!), so you can ensure the work you need delegated is completed with quality. For more information on Uassist.ME’s virtual assistance services, please request a consultation.
Written by Rodolfo Schildknecht
Rodolfo is co-founder of Uassist.ME.