What do you think enables some virtual assistants to stand out from the crowd? In other words, what make someone a highly-professional virtual assistant? 

It is the professional training they get, plain and simple. 

Training plays a vital role in a virtual assistant's career, and will determine how far they will go professionally. 

Similarly, training is also a significant part of every industry. Individuals must understand the nuances of the career they want to pursue and train accordingly. 

Hiring a virtual assistant is an excellent way for small businesses to cope with rising workloads, particularly for online enterprises or startups that operate from home or remotely. But you’ll want to take on someone whose got the proper training to really bring value to your business. Below, we’ll share our tips for ensuring you’re training your virtual assistant to perform at their very best.

6 tips for training a virtual assistant 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a virtual assistant service or when  training new employees remotely. First, remember that virtual training is an efficient way to ensure that your new virtual team member can quickly begin their work. 

A virtual assistant (VA) has many similarities with a traditional personal assistant and an administrative assistant. They have similar responsibilities, including: 

  • Calendar management
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Social media management
  • Making calls
  • Data entry
  • Project management
  • Report making
  • Online research
  • Email management
  • Customer support

Virtual assistants can also perform more specialized duties depending on their skill set. So, whatever type of business you have, a virtual assistant could be the ideal fit for your new virtual office.

But, before the hiring process starts, firms must focus on the training of virtual assistants. What are the factors that affect the training of a VA? How can you properly train your virtual assistants? Let’s dive in.

Related: How to Develop a Diverse Skill Set and Become an Expert Generalist

1. Set aside enough time

Training new staff is a time-consuming process, whether they work remotely or are based in an office space. When it comes to hiring new employees, a big mistake business owners make is not devoting sufficient time to training. But how much time do you require to train your employees? Look to the 30x rule for training that many learning and development executives recommend. 

According to the rule, you should set aside 30 times the time it takes to finish a task to teach someone how to do it. For instance, if a task takes 20 minutes to complete, you should set aside 600 minutes to train someone to complete it correctly.  

While it may sound like a lot to you, this is a good rule of thumb, and has proven to be effective. 

2. Appoint an experienced VA to train your team 

Yet another good way into the training process is to appoint someone who excels at a task, to train other individuals to do the same. All you need to do is identify a successful professional and appoint them as a trainer to share their institutional knowledge.

An experienced VA can share authentic experiences with other junior VAs, and help pass on contextual knowledge that will help them get up and running, fast. If you have a Collaborative Learning LMS in place, your experienced VAs can easily create courses to share with their new peers asynchronously, meaning they won’t have to spend valuable working hours training employees live.

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In addition, your workforce receives good guidance, which they need to grow in their career. There are set standards of work quality that a VA works to achieve. And if the employees grow, the company grows.

Related: Your Complete Guide to Human Capital Management—How HCM Can Transform Your Workforce

3. Define the role

It is essential to start all hiring processes with a well-defined job description that outlines all of the tasks and responsibilities of a virtual assistant. For example, is this a purely administrative position, or will some client service be involved? Will the virtual assistant contact any possible clients or consumers, and if so, what communication skills should they have?

More importantly, it is prudent to have a list of resources ready for their first day, as part of their onboarding or even preboarding.  

4. Set expectations

 It is essential to set expectations when you train new team members.

Setting expectations is key when training any new staff members. It's important to remember that this step is less about what is done and more about how it should be done. Typically, this can include expectations on timeliness and communication practices—either way, you can clarify expcectations using an OKR model or similar.

Although virtual assistants can work from anywhere, you may want them to keep particular office hours and log in at the same time every day. Specific duties, like time-sensitive sign-offs or contact with external shareholders, may necessitate extra thought. You can explain this in detail to new employees. 

5. Give written instructions

This point may sound obvious, but when training new employees, making sure you have clear written instructions for vital jobs is critical. In addition, it is beneficial for big or small tasks that your VA may find themselves frequently doing.

You can save time by writing a handover document and keeping it on the Google Drive folder or any other file-sharing app. It's an efficient way to ensure your VA can refer to your instructions any time during training.

Using project management software to offer written instructions for new work is a good idea. Web-based task management applications like Trello, Asana, and monday.com are handy for this, as they all allow you to attach written briefs for new projects that provide virtual assistants precise instructions. Or even better, create and share these courses in your learning management system. 

Related: What are Learning Management Systems, and How do you Choose One?

 6. Share visual references and recordings

While written instructions are a good starting point for any training, showing your virtual assistant how to do something is often more effective than telling them. It is particularly true for any tasks that necessitate the use of web-based software.  

Sometimes the most effortless approach to instructing someone remotely is to use video recordings, including screen-captured footage. On-screen and audio recording of oneself performing the activity of yourself talking through the processes and phases of the task is an excellent way for your virtual assistant to see how they complete the job.

There are many free video recording tools available, like Loom.  Again, if you’re using an LMS like 360Learning to house your training, integrations with Loom and similar tools will make it easy to create this kind of interactive content for your courses.

Videos can be an effective instructional tool, but you must keep them brief and to the point. Giving your virtual assistant too much information in a long video may not be the greatest approach for them to remember it. Instead, consider making a series of short video tutorials lasting 3 to 7 minutes. These are an excellent approach to break down jobs and assist your virtual assistant in comprehending the material in each video. 

Building up a bank of these videos is an excellent idea for companies that may rely on freelancers, part-time workers, or independent contractors. It will save time and effort when training new staff and retraining existing staff if needed.  

Related: How to Create Effective Training Videos: 5 Formats and Examples

The key is to stay organized 

It's pointless to invest a lot of time and effort into training someone if the instruction is not arranged correctly. If you’re storing everything in a shared folder on a platform like Sharepoint or Google Drive, consider switching to a learning management system, so you have one source of truth for all of your training. You’ll save yourself many future headaches, as well as a lot of time.