6 Tips for Hiring and Managing Virtual Assistants
Learn how to hire and manage Virtual Assistants (VA) to get more time back — and do it in a compliant manner with Liquid.
Feeling overwhelmed with the number of time-consuming tasks you have? It might be time to engage a Virtual Assistant (VA). A Virtual Assistant can manage anything — scheduling, finances, optimization projects, marketing, research, content writing, organization, purchasing, podcasts, party planning, travel planning, or editing.
Decide whether you need a freelancer or an employee.
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At the simplest level, whether you need to engage a freelancer or an employee depends on behavioral, financial, and relationship control factors. The more control you need over the worker, the greater the likelihood that the worker must be classified as an employee. For example, providing more supervision, determining work hours, stipulating work location, etc., all increase the likelihood the VA should be hired as an employee.
You’ll need to also take into account where the Virtual Assistant is located – some states (and localities) have separate standards, such as California’s ABC test. If you can hire a freelancer as your Virtual Assistant, your company won’t incur payroll tax.
Classifying your Virtual Assistant
It can be tricky to assess whether your VA can be a freelancer or must be hired as an employee. Some of the questions to consider:
- Do you have the “right to control” how the work is done? If you are setting the steps and process by which work must be done and/or setting the hours, then this makes it likely the VA would be classified as an employee.
- How much are you supervising the VA? The more supervision you plan to provide, the greater the likelihood that your VA needs to be an employee.
- Is the worker in business for themselves? If the worker has set up their own business (for example, establishing a business identity, website, etc.) and has other clients, then it’s more likely the VA can be classified as a freelancer.
- Will this be a project-based relationship or one that is open-ended / ongoing? The more permanent the relationship, the greater the likelihood the VA should be an employee.
- How integral is this role to your company? If the VA is taking the place of a secretary or receptionist, roles which are typically employee jobs, then it’s more likely the role should be hired as an employee.
- Could the VA make a loss or profit on the work? Depending on their efficiency, Virtual Assistants that are paid by project or monthly retainer have the chance to make either a profit or a “loss”. If you’re paying your VA hourly, this increases the likelihood the worker should be an employee.
- Is this engagement at-will, or is there a penalty if the VA is let go? For example, if you have to pay a penalty, deposit amount, or other fee when terminating a contract early, this makes it less likely the VA is an employee.
If your VA is a freelancer, ensure that you have an Independent Contractor Agreement that specifies how the relationship will work. An attorney can review proposed freelancer engagements and provide specific guidance based on the applicable standards.
Plan for a long-term relationship as you search for a Virtual Assistant.
Go into this planning to build a long-term relationship. Make sure the assistant’s personality is a good fit for you and your company. It is easier to train someone to do the specific tasks you are delegating than to teach them to have the attitude and style that matches yours.
Be curious, then figure out how to work together. Find out what the Virtual Assistant already knows (or doesn’t know), what their expertise is in, and where they feel they thrive. This will cut down on areas you have to train them in, and they will likely share their methods, systems, and processes with you — leading to better alignment toward your goals.
Start with a trial period with your Virtual Assistant.
Working with a Virtual Assistant (or any assistant) is bringing in a right-hand person you trust. Trust is built on a relationship, and it is built over time — not something that will happen overnight. Start by having your VA work on a specific, clearly defined project. Alternatively, set up a 2-week trial period to make sure it’s a good fit.
Make sure to schedule a check-in at the end of the probationary period to make sure you both want to move forward. In Liquid, you can do this by setting up an initial Work Order for the trial period or trial project. Then, create additional Work Orders for further work beyond the initial trial.
Always begin by delegating a few low-priority and low-complexity tasks (for example, email management, a data entry project, research or an itinerary). Let them show you what they can do. Once your Virtual Assistant has proven themself, then you can feel confident delegating higher-complexity tasks. When projects have been successfully completed on schedule, you can start to delegate higher priority tasks.
Make sure you are clear on exactly what you need help with from your Virtual Assistant.
When you are hiring a Virtual Assistant — or any outsourced worker — it is crucial that expectations are crystal clear. Ensure you communicate when projects must be completed (these deadlines should always be reasonable) and what the expectations are for each project.
You should always agree upfront with your VA on the days / hours that you can reach them. In turn, your VA needs to know when are the best times to contact you if questions arise.
Share clear SOPs so your Virtual Assistant can be successful.
For training, record yourself doing the tasks and develop a library of training materials. These materials should document and explain your standard operating procedures (SOPs). Then, you won’t have to take time to bring a new Virtual Assistant up to speed when the time comes — you can simply send them the training videos and other materials. Ideally, you should be able to onboard a new Virtual Assistant in under an hour.
Communicate frequently and clearly with your Virtual Assistant.
Feedback is a gift — be sure to share both positive feedback and negative feedback. It’s best to do a weekly call with your Virtual Assistant. Share what is working and what isn’t. When it makes sense, you can also ask for a daily recap of what was completed and what is still in process, where there are blockers, and what they need from you or your team to move forward. Just be careful not to micromanage, or you’ll run into compliance issues and elevated independent contractors compliance risk.
Pay your Virtual Assistant Promptly
Once you’ve found the perfect Virtual Assistant for you, the quickest way to lose them is to forget to pay them. Make sure your contract with your Virtual Assistant says how often you will pay, under what payment terms, and the acceptable methods of payment. If you use a Freelancer Management Software like Liquid, then your Virtual Assistant can effortlessly invoice you allowing you to make seamless digital payments promptly.
Managing Virtual Assistants with Liquid
If your VA is a freelancer or independent contractor, Liquid makes it easy to manage your engagements month-to-month. Our system is designed to help you reduce costs, save time, and mitigate compliance risks when managing freelancers, independent contractors, and vendors.
Inviting a new Virtual Assistant to complete your onboarding workflow takes less than a minute. When onboarding, you can either use your company’s contract template or Liquid’s standard template to execute an Independent Contractor Agreement. Our Work Order feature makes it easy to specify the tasks and deliverables for the engagement. With Work Order to Invoice Matching, there’s no more manual matching of invoices with work orders, and issues such as duplicate invoices or overbilling are automatically flagged for you. And you can securely pay Virtual Assistants in 175+ countries.
Ready to start contracting and paying your virtual assistant in a compliant way? Try Liquid today.
Updated: April 27, 2021
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.