These Virtual Assistant Software Tools Can Make You More Productive
Working with a virtual assistant can save your business a lot of time and money. These remote employees can reduce your operating costs and streamline your business processes. Plus, you wouldn’t have to worry about bonuses, benefits, and health insurance.
You can make working with a virtual assistant even smoother by using some virtual assistant software tools. The following are some of the best tools available on the market.
Time Doctor: The Best Option for Time Tracking and Payroll Management
When you work with people in different timezones, payroll for hourly employees can get confusing. You also need to have a reliable, and accurate way to track the hours that they work.
Good time tracking virtual assistant software tools are a great way to take the guesswork out of tracking your employee time. You can see how many hours they work, and how they spend their time.
Time Doctor takes care of both your time tracking and your payroll needs.
Like most time tracking virtual assistant software tools, your remote employees install Time Doctor on their computers. This then allows you to see the time they spend working on specific projects and the number of breaks they take. You can also see the applications they use and the websites they visit while working. You even get access to periodic screenshots, as well as easy payroll options.
One of the best things about Time Doctor is that it supports integration with many of the most popular project management software.
Project Management and Communication
Communication is important for any business process. This is especially true when you work with Virtual Assistants. Sending email after email is just not good enough when you need to finish a major project. Thankfully, there are now a few virtual assistant software tools available that will make communicating with your Virtual Assistant more efficient than ever. The following are some of the best apps for project management and communication:
Asana: Your All-In-One Project Management System
Not only does Asana give you an easy way to communicate with your VA, but it also helps keep you organized. You can use it to assign tasks to your VA and keep communication specific to that task. That way, you can see exactly who is responsible for what. You can also create a calendar that shows all the due dates that you have set for your VA. Plus, you can even use Asana to house your CRM, so that everything stays in one place.
On your VA’s end, they can find all of their assigned tasks listed under the aptly named “My Tasks” view. This means that your VA will always know exactly what tasks they are expected to work on. This can significantly reduce miscommunication, as well as missed deadlines.
Asana also comes with a great mobile app with an interface that is not only beautiful, it’s also easy to use! It’s perfect for on-the-go use and works well on a variety of devices.
Slack: Customizable Instant-Messaging for Organizations
Slack is very popular among the tech crowd, so you know it’s great for working with your VA. This virtual assistant software tool’s primary strength lies in its fast and efficient instant messaging capabilities. It also gives you a quick and easy way to share files with your VA.
Slack’s other strength is that it is customizable. It is flexible enough to let you organize your communications just the way you want to. It allows you to create channels for all the different areas of your business. For example, you can have a #blog channel dedicated to blog-related communications.
Unlike Asana and Trello, Slack doesn’t give you the ability to assign specific tasks to your different VAs. There’s also no calendar view. This isn’t a problem though, because Slack supports integration with a variety of services, including both Asana and Trello. Once integrated, Slack can pull updates from these services automatically, allowing you to keep all your information in one centralized location.
Trello: A Kanban-Style Project Management System
Trello is perfect for people who like to use Kanban boards to boost productivity. You can create boards for different projects, and each board will have a series of lists. In the screenshot above, you can see an example of a board made on Trello.
The beauty of Trello is that you can set it up in any way that works best for your needs. For example, you can create different lists for the different stages of your project. Alternatively, you can set up the lists to represent the different projects your VA is assigned to. You can also use Trello to streamline your blog updates by setting up template cards for quick posting and scheduling. You can add checklists, due dates, and calendars. You can even attach files and photos so your VA can access them easily.
File Sharing and Storage Solutions for Businesses
When it comes to file sharing and storage, businesses often have very demanding needs. Here are some of the best business storage virtual assistant software tools on the market:
Google Apps: Probably the Most Widely Used Business App in the World
Google Apps is one of the most feature-rich virtual assistant software tools on the market. It makes collaborating with your VA a breeze.
Here are some of the things you can too with Google Apps:
- Communicate easily via email and chat
- Use the calendar to schedule meetings
- Save and share files easily with Google Drive
- Collaborate on documents with your VA, from any device or location
- Host video meetings
Another benefit? It’s one of the most popular business apps in the world, so many people already know how to use it. That means you won’t have to worry about training your VAs to use it.
Dropbox Business: A Robust File Sharing Solution
Dropbox makes it easy to store, edit, and share your files. It’s a great alternative to Google Drive if you’re not a fan of the G Suite interface.
Huddle: File Sharing + Content and Project Management
Like Dropbox and Google Apps, Huddle gives you an easy way to share your files. But Huddle also doubles as a powerful tool for content and project management. For example, every document you make on Huddle will have its own comment stream. This makes it easier to communicate and collaborate with your VA team.
Huddle is really ideal for larger businesses. If you work with several VAs who need to collaborate with each other, then Huddle is really the way to go.
15Five: Performance Management Made Easy
15Five is one of those virtual assistant software tools that makes performance management a breeze. It allows employees to share their weekly wins and challenges with their managers. This, in turn, allows managers to see how the business’ objectives and goals are progressing. With 15Five, you get:
- Quarterly objectives (OKRs)
- Employee feedback and recognition
- Performance reviews
The app gets its name from a practice that was popularized by Patagonia founder, Yvonne Chouinard. At the end of the week, employees take 15 minutes to fill out a weekly report, which their managers would then review in 5 minutes.
pCloud: For Those Who Care About Their Security and Privacy
PCloud is a Swiss secure cloud storage company. If you care about your privacy and security, then you should really consider pCloud as an alternative to file sharing and storage services like Google Apps and Dropbox.
PCloud offers up to 20 GB of free storage. You get many of the functions that you’d expect from a robust cloud service. This includes password-protected download links, expiration dates, the ability to invite people to view folders, permission management, and more.
But there are also a few things about pCloud that make it stand out from the competition.
First, pCloud actually acts as an external hard drive. It does not use any of the storage space on your machine to save your files. That means that when you use their desktop or mobile client, you’re actually adding to the available storage space on your device. For example, if you were opt-in to their 2 TB plan, you will effectively get 2 TB more storage space to use on your device.
PCloud’s encryption is so secure that it even hosted a competition to prove it. Hackers from around the world were invited to try their hand at hacking pCloud’s encryption software. Participants included people from the world’s top universities, such as Berkeley, MIT, and Boston, as well as 613 other organizations. None of them succeeded.
One of pCloud’s biggest strengths lies in the fact that it is open-source software. Open source is simply better for privacy and security. This is because open-source programs allow you to audit the systems that handle your data. You get more control, and you can see what the other side is doing. It’s all about transparency.
The difference between open source programs and closed source programs is kind of like the difference between watching the chef cook food right in front of you and getting your food from a separate, hidden, kitchen. With the hidden kitchen, you assume no one spat on your food. But you just don’t really know for sure. With pCloud, you know they’re not doing anything sketchy with your data.
Social Media Management and Scheduling
Social media management is one of the top reasons why people hire virtual assistants. Here are two virtual assistant software tools that make collaborating on social media easier:
Buffer: Manage All of Your Social Media Profiles in One Convenient Place
Buffer allows you to manage all of your social media profiles in just one convenient hub. You can use Buffer to plan and schedule your content. Buffer also gives you feature-rich analytics for each of your profiles, so you can optimize your content for engagement.
MeetEdgar: Never Write a Status Update Again
When you use MeetEdgar, you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to post. MeetEdgar uses machine learning to scan your blog or website for the most social-ready snippets. You’ll never have to worry about writing status updates again. It also allows you to automatically reshare your evergreen content in a way that doesn’t make you look like a spambot.
Canva: An Easy Way to Make Eye-Catching, Social-Ready Graphics
Canva makes it quick and easy to create eye-catching graphics for social media, even if you’re not a graphic designer. Canva gives you access to hundreds of templates, which you can then customize to match your brand.
drumUp: Curate Top Content From Your Industry
drumUp is one of the more unique social media virtual assistant software tools. It combines social media marketing and news tracking. It gives your social media managers an easy way to curate and share top content from your industry. Their publishing and scheduling features support multiple social media platforms.
Post Planner: Optimize for Engagement
PostPlanner helps you optimize your content for engagement. In fact, PostPlanner can triple your social media engagement and save you a lot of time while doing so. It does this by scoring your content. So you can predict how well it will perform.
ContentStudio: A Powerful Social Media Management Platform
ContentStudio is a truly powerful social media management platform. It has several tools that are designed to help you make the most of your Social Media presence, including:
- Content discovery so you can share the latest trends in your industry
- Post planning, scheduling and posting
- Insights and analytics
- Influencer outreach tools to help you collaborate with influencers in your industry
- Approval workflow for enhanced collaboration
- Branded, automatic reports for informed decision-making
Many Virtual Assistants handle scheduling. Here are some virtual assistant software tools that will make coordinating schedules a breeze:
Doodle: Automate Your Meeting Schedules
Doodle helps streamline your scheduling processes. It automatically sorts through your team’s calendars to find the next available dates when everyone can get together for a meeting. Doodle can also send reminders for appointments, as well as request additional information, such as phone numbers and email addresses, from your contacts. You can even use Doodle to let your clients know when you are available
Doodle integrates with all of the most popular calendar programs, including GCal, iCal, Office 365, and more.
World Time Buddy: International Scheduling Made Easy
When you work with people from around the world, you will need to take time zone conversions and daylight savings into account. The fact is, scheduling meetings for an international team can be very confusing. And there really is no room for error. After all, you don’t want to be in a situation where your team members stay up all night, only to find out that the meeting was scheduled for the next day.
World Time Buddy is an online meeting scheduler that also doubles as a time converter. Unlike most scheduling virtual assistant software tools, World Time Buddy allows your VA to easily schedule meetings at a time that works best for everyone involved.
Float: Comprehensive Resource Planning
Float helps you keep track of your team’s time, so you know exactly who is working on what task, and when. It’s one of the more powerful virtual assistant software tools. It includes drag and drop scheduling, and live updates, as well as comprehensive reports. Some of Float’s clients include NASA, Vice, and RGA.
Online Meeting and Conference Software
For most people, meetings are a regular part of work life. The following virtual assistant software tools will help make your online meetings run more smoothly.
EzTalks Cloud Meeting: Enterprise-Class Video Conferencing Software
EzTalks Cloud Meeting helps make your online meetings more productive. It has all of the features you would expect from enterprise-class video conferencing software, including:
- Online meeting hosting and scheduling
- File sharing
- Screen sharing
- Group chat
- Private chat
- Interactive online whiteboards
- Meeting recording
Best of all, it’s free to use when you host meetings with 100 people or less.
Join.me: A Scalable Online Meeting Software
Join.me lets you schedule and host online meetings. It also has screen sharing capabilities. You can use Join.me for one-to-one calls, or to hold conferences with large teams.
UberConference: Video Conferencing Made Easy
As the name suggests, UberConference is all about taking the hassle out of online conference calls. UberConference streamlines the online conference experience. There’s less hassle compared to other online conferencing software solutions. For example, you don’t have to worry about not being able to enter a conference call because you forgot your pin. There’s also no need to identify yourself when you enter a call. UberConference takes care of it all.
Skype: Old Reliable
Most people have a Skype account. And most people are familiar with how to use the software. If you need reliable software for your online meeting or conference call, then Skype is a great choice. Even if you already have a favorite online meeting software, consider using Skype as a back-up for times when things don’t go as planned.
With Skype, you can collaborate on PowerPoints, share your screen, and host video conferences. You can also send chat messages during calls.
Brosix: Simple Instant Messaging on Your Own Private Team Network
Brosix is an enterprise instant messaging program. When you use Brosix, you get your own private team network. You control who gets added or removed from your network, and all messages are encrypted via end-to-end encryption.
Brosix comes with a range of features that make it easy to collaborate with your VA team:
- Host one-on-one meetings
- Send and receive files
- Share your screen
- Control a remote desktop
HelloFax: Easy Online Faxing
Sometimes, you will still need to send a fax. It’s rare, but it does happen. With HelloFax, you can send and receive faxes just as easily as you send an email. HelloFax also allows you to edit and sign faxes right on your computer. You can even sync your account with Dropbox, Google Docs, OneDrive, Box, and Evernote.
AI Assistant Software
Don’t want to hire remote assistants? AI Assistant Software can complete some of a VA’s tasks.
Keep in mind that AI Assistant Software can only complete basic tasks. If your needs are more complex, such as scheduling and social media management, then you will still need to hire a Virtual Assistant.
Here are a few of the most popular AI Assistant Software.
Siri: An AI Assistant for iPhone Users
If you have an iPhone, Siri can act as your own personal assistant. Tasks that Siri can complete include:
- Making calls
- Sending texts
- Finding information
- Getting directions
- Reading texts
- Make recommendations
Cortana: An AI Assistant for Android Users
Many people think of Cortana as Android’s answer to Siri. And in a way, this is true. Cortana can accomplish many of the same tasks that Siri can.
If you have an iPhone, you can actually download Cortana from the AppStore. However, the functionality will be limited compared to that on an Android device.
Google Now: Get Useful Information About Your Upcoming Events
Google Now can help make sure your events run smoothly. You can use it to pull useful information about your upcoming events, such as:
- Upcoming flights
- Hotel options
- Currency exchange rates
You can also use it to set reminders for upcoming events.
Work-From-Home Jobs: Can You Make Money Being a Virtual Assistant?
Let’s say you’re not a business, but a VA. You should know that there is unlimited potential for earning money as a virtual assistant. The fact is, the very best virtual assistants often have more job offers than they can take on.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how remote work can be a viable alternative to in-office work. TIME Magazine even called the pandemic, “the world’s largest work from home experiment.” Indeed, work-at-home jobs are now more profitable than ever — a far cry from where they were just a few decades ago.
In fact, according to a study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union, we can expect more than half of the workforce to be freelancing by the coming decade.
How to Tell If an Online Job Opportunity Is Actually a Scam
Today, there are more legitimate work-at-home opportunities available than ever before. Unfortunately, you can still run into the occasional scam. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself when starting out your work-at-home job search:
Do Your Research
Make sure you know whom you’re working for. If you receive an offer, take the time to do research on the business before accepting the job. Do they have a profile with the Better Business Bureau? Are there any bad reviews or complaints about them online? These can give you insight into what kind of business you’re dealing with.
Get References From Their Current Employees
How many people does the business employ? Are you able to contact any of their current employees? It can be a red flag if they refuse to give you any references.
Think Twice Before Putting Your Own Money on the Line
Sometimes, you will need special equipment to get a job done properly. This might mean you have to put your own money on the line. If you find yourself in such a situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve landed on a scam. But tread carefully. Make sure you know what you’re buying, why you’re buying it, and whom you’re paying. Is there a return policy in case the job doesn’t pan out?
10 Real Work From Home Jobs You Can Do in 2020
Virtual assistants help keep businesses organized by keeping key administrative tasks in check. No two virtual assistant jobs are the same. But generally, you can expect some of the following responsibilities:
- Writing and replying to emails
- Creating business documents
- Communicating with the media
- Responding to business inquiries
- Researching and creating content
Medical transcriptionists transcribe recorded medical dictation. Most jobs will require you to have successfully completed a medical transcriptionist program before hiring. You will also need access to a computer and a high-quality earpiece.
To become a translator, you will need to be fluent in at least two languages. Some jobs also require you to have a bachelor’s degree. Translators work in a variety of industries, from private education to scientific institutions, to hospitals, and even the government.
There are many different types of web-developers. There are front-end developers, back-end developers, and even full-stack developers. You can choose whichever type of web development best suits you.
To become a web developer, you need to be able to work with code. You should also be able to show prospective clients any applicable experience, and a portfolio of successful websites that you have created.
Demand for travel agents has been decreasing over the last few years. And it is only expected to continue to decline in the coming years. Having said that, there are still a number of opportunities available for anyone who is interested in working from home as a travel agent.
For best results, become an expert in planning tours for a certain area of the world. Alternatively, you can focus on providing experiences for group travel. Niching down is key here.
More and more businesses are outsourcing their content creation and copywriting needs. You don’t necessarily need professional writing experience to become a freelance writer. You do need a portfolio of solid writing samples, as well as a resume.
Social Media Manager
More and more businesses are leveraging social media to reach their customers. But not every business is willing or has the time to manage their own social media accounts. As a social media manager, you will be expected to help businesses grow their online presence, and engage with followers. If you have a sizable social media presence of your own, then you may be able to reach out to companies directly to see if they would be interested in your help.
Data entry is an important job for many businesses. It allows them to track inventory, create business plans for loans, and measure key performance indicators. To start with data entry, all you need are a computer and some typing skills.
A growing number of businesses need call-center representatives to help customers, process orders, and register returns. Most call-center representatives will be expected to answer phone calls at all hours of the day.
Experience in the following areas can help you land a call-center representative gig:
- Customer service
- Data entry
- Retail sales
To become a blogger, you first need to be able to grow and build an audience. Then, you need to find a way to monetize your audience. Only then will you start earning an income. As you can see, being a blogger is not like any of the other jobs listed in this article.
Some of the ways bloggers can monetize their audiences include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts
- Google Adsense revenue
- Online sales
The Top Virtual Assistant Skills You Will Need to Become a Successful Virtual Assistant
You can’t become a great VA overnight. There are several virtual assistant skills that you will need to build over time. This is true even if you’ve finished higher education.
Here are some of the most important virtual assistant skills you need to have if you want to become a successful virtual assistant.
Be Reliable and Communicative
Many clients have been burned by flaky and unreliable virtual assistants. These VAs don’t report on how tasks are progressing. Or worse, they don’t deliver at all!
If you want to be a good VA, then you need to be professional. Your client needs to be able to rely on you. When they contact you, answer their calls and emails. Or at least return their calls. Here is another place where using good virtual assistant software tools can help you be a better provider for your clients.
Update your client on how your tasks are progressing. Every client is different, so make sure to ask how often they like to be updated, and what their preferred mode of communication is. Do they prefer emails? Do they like phone calls? If in doubt, send the client an update at the end of each task. And if a task is going behind schedule, then let them know as soon as possible.
Manage Your Time Wisely
Plan your days ahead of time. You should even plan for when unexpected tasks and clients drop in. It’s a good idea to schedule your tasks for the time of day when you are most efficient. For example, if you’re a morning person, then plan to do the bulk of your tasks accordingly. Keeping a calendar is also a good way to stay organized and on top of everything. Try some of the virtual assistant software tools for scheduling that were mentioned earlier in this article.
You need to be able to keep yourself motivated. And you need to be disciplined enough to complete all of your tasks on time.
Try to minimize distractions during work hours. This includes social media and unimportant phone calls.
As a VA, you’re going to find yourself doing things that you have never done before. Every now and then you will run into a technical problem. Don’t go running straight to your client with questions. More than likely, the answer can easily be found online. Remember: virtual assistants are there to solve problems and provide solutions for their clients. You need to be able to problem-solve and make effective decisions. Clients will not always have the time to answer your questions or make clarifications.
Your clients won’t expect you to know how to do everything. If you’ve never done a particular task before, just be honest about it. And let them know that you’re willing to find out how to do the task. Often, honesty is the best policy.
Manage Your Clients Expectations
You need to be good at your job. And you need to make sure your clients know it. If you seem hesitant and insecure, then the client is going to have a hard time believing you are competent.
You are the expert here, so many of your clients will be looking at you to take the lead. This is especially true of any clients who are brand new. Guide them through the process.
You Need to Add Value
Clients want value. They want someone who will go the extra mile. They don’t want someone who will actively try to do only the absolute minimum amount of work they can get away with.
To be a good VA, you should feel invested in the success of your clients. Be trustworthy. Be reliable. And don’t be someone that your clients have to chase after or otherwise worry about. The best clients are willing to pay good money for a virtual assistant with these qualities.
Be Okay With Working Alone
Working at home can be tough. Many freelancers get lonely. After all, you don’t really have any coworkers. This is just a fact of the job, and you will need to find out what works for you when it comes to coping with working alone. Some people, for example, benefit from co-working spaces.
Practice Your Word Processing Skills
Almost every virtual assistant job is going to require you to do some word processing. This is not just about typing 100 words per minute. You also need to make sure that everything is accurate. Here is another place where using virtual assistant software tools can help.
Hone Your Speaking and Writing Skills
Many virtual assistants need to write reports and send emails. If you want to be able to do your job well, then you need to make sure that your verbal and writing skills are up to par. If you think your skills could use some polishing, then you can always sign up for an online course. This is true for most virtual assistant skills.
Keep Your Computer Skills Up-To-Date
Every virtual assistant job will need you to use a computer. So it makes sense that you need to have good computer skills.
At the very least, you will need to be familiar with word processing programs, and spreadsheet programs. These are basic computer skills for all virtual assistants. You will probably also need to have up-to-date knowledge of how to use the internet. Some clients hire virtual assistants to keep their websites and databases up-to-date.
Cultivate a Love for Learning
To be a virtual assistant means you will work on a variety of tasks. Chances are, you won’t know how to do everything right away. You need to cultivate a love for learning. Otherwise, your job is going to be very unpleasant. Try using some of the AI assistant software mentioned earlier in this article.
Hear What VAs From Around the World Have to Say
Professional virtual assistants from all around the world were asked about the qualities they thought were needed to be good on the job. Here’s what they thought were the most important qualities to have:
- Problem solver
- Good communicator
Working From Home: A Few More Tips for Success
- If you make a mistake, then fix it. And don’t charge the client for the time you take to fix it.
- Before working on a task, clarify exactly what needs to be done. You want to be absolutely clear about the task’s perimeters. Otherwise, you risk disappointing your client.
- Every client is different. You will need to adapt based on how your client likes to work. If your client doesn’t like using the virtual assistant software tools you usually work with, you will have to adapt.
- Not every client is a great fit. Sometimes, you will need to fire them. Try to do so tactfully. It’s also a good idea to refer them to another remote worker.
- Even if it seems simple, don’t assume the client knows how to do it. This is especially true for virtual assistant software tools. For example, if you need to share files via Google Drive, make sure to check beforehand that the client knows how to use it.
- Watch out for opportunities to improve what your client is already doing. If you spot one, make sure to suggest it to your client.
- Make use of virtual assistant software tools to make your job easier
If you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant, then don’t be discouraged by the steep learning curve in the beginning. Yes, being a virtual assistant is a far cry from an easy life and easy money. The truth is, not everyone has what it takes to be successful at this kind of work. So think carefully about your decision
If you’re a business looking to hire a virtual assistant, then carefully about whom you hire to do your work. And ask about what software tools your assistant will be using.
Whether you’re a business or a virtual assistant, software tools can help make your life easier. If you’re a medical practice interested in hiring a VA, why not schedule a consultation?