A few days ago I received a saddening note from the virtual assistant I’ve been working with for the past year. She’s been a fantastic part of my team. Her English was amazing and she was fantastic at thinking “outside-the-box” and coming up with suggestions and improvements. While we parted on very good terms, I couldn’t get a clear idea of why she was leaving. She said she needed to move toward “other projects”. I offered more money, but her mind was made up.
After a bit more review I believe she fell victim to something that has always been a concern of mine: I’m not providing my VA’s with enough consistent work. Going back and reviewing the past year I found that while there were spikes of 20+ hours a week, most of the time the average was only 5 hours a week. I can completely understand how frustrating this would be to a contractor that might be expecting more consistent work.
I currently have 4 “virtual assistants” on ::oDesk(“a”):: (by VA I mean personal assistant, programmer, designer, etc.) and each has very different degrees of skills and the ability to know exactly what I want from them.
I’ve also worked with many different virtual assistants over the years. Each has had very diverse skills, experience, and personalities (much of which I’ve found can be formed by local culture). One of the things I’ve struggled with is finding the perfect balance between a virtual assistant that takes the right amount of initiative… not too much, and not too little.
What do I mean? Well, I’ve found that in some cases, initiative and following explicit instructions can be mutually exclusive. Still not sure what I mean? Maybe a few examples will help from two virtual personal assistants I had last year:
I’ve been very impressed with my most recent virtual assistant from ::oDesk(“a”)::. His English is better than most I’ve used, and he mentioned that he enjoys writing. I asked if he’d write a quick bit about his background and experience / thoughts on using ::oDesk(“a”)::, so here it is: Continue reading “My Virtual Assistant Life on oDesk”
Anytime I begin a relationship with a virtual assistant I enjoy hearing about their background. I ask them why they are working as a virtual assistant, what they like and don’t like about providing remote assistant services, and where they see themselves in 3 – 5 years. I’ve also found that most of the stories about outsourcing internationally that I’ve read are from the perspective of the buyer of virtual assistant services (people like me), but few are from their perspective.
A few weeks ago I dipped my toe into, and wrote about my first experience with the Amazon Mechanical Turk system. Compared to my normal virtual assistant projects I never had a single conversation with the provider. I didn’t know their name, skill-set, background, geo location, nothing. Well, for fun I decided I’d post a “HIT” (project on “MTurk”) asking for a provider to write about their background and experience working with this system. Below is what I received, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing Continue reading “Why I Work From Home”