Being CEO of various educational ventures, I have often hired virtual assistants in the past with mostly good outcomes. However, I will share some rather testing experiences as is the purpose of this writing. Please note that the following experiences took place despite assurance by the virtual assistants at the time of hiring that this won’t happen at all.
Virtual assistants almost always work from home and hence have limitations in terms of the working environment in which they operate. Poor internet signals and background noise (for example, barking dogs) very often leads to disruptive virtual meetings with them, meaning that I have to repeat myself several times and still not be sure that my message has been fully understood by them and will be actioned upon as intended.
This also means that the negative vibes I take from such meetings impact my mood even after the meetings have ended. After all, we hire the virtual assistants to support us and this feeling of support must not be clouded by any doubts that can arrive from such poor communication. I am also left to wonder how effective the virtual assistant would be when working in that environment.
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Not Being Available
Another painful experience is virtual assistants not being available on some occasions, even though they are contracted to be. I once had an assistant unreachable for about three hours, who was also found to be walking her dog around 4pm during another working day when her shift was meant to end at 6pm.
Another virtual assistant attended a call where I could hear a train in the background as he was travelling to his parents to spend the weekend, this too during working hours on Friday.
It is really difficult to make sure that your virtual assistant is guaranteed to be available when needed, as they tend to make note of times when you don’t usually need them and take breaks for personal work.
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I am sure that for certain business owners, there is a greater degree of flexibility on how fast they need a response from their virtual assistants. However, the nature of my business is such that any delays or disruptions as discussed above could have a negative rippling effect on operations of my business so my threshold of tolerance is quite low. Consequently, during Covid-19 alone, I have changed my virtual assistant once.