Close your eyes.
What do you picture when you think of an Executive Assistant?
Are you picturing Joan, from Mad Men? Donna from Suits? (We all know, Harvey is nothing without Donna.) The brilliancy behind the leader with the brains? The one that keeps everything running smoothly, behind the scenes?
Most people imagine something of the sort: professional attire in a downtown office block. Although that may be the case for many EA’s, the work life for a virtual EA looks much different. Working for a virtual company is very different than the traditional setting, but it’s pretty sweet running financial reports and scheduling meetings from the comfort of my pyjamas. Don’t get me wrong, I still wear my blazers and heels when I am out for meetings—I do not sit in my pyjamas all day everyday, but this balance between virtual and traditional means I get to sleep in for that extra hour if I need it and work late when I’m feeling inspired. It’s awesome.
Working as a remote, virtual EA also comes with challenges. Here are some considerations for all you virtual EA’s out there.
Stay on track
Being organized and disciplined in time management should be second nature for any Executive Assistant but especially when you are working remotely, from the comfort of your home. (Or from the beach. Or coffee shop. Ok, you get the idea.) Besides people and pets, your home can be littered with lots of other distractions including your TV, refrigerator, your luxurious bed, etc. Noises and interruptions such as online shopping mail deliveries, your neighbour's gardening service, and traffic on your block can also throw you off your game. But if you are separated from the office atmosphere and are working remotely, you better be extremely disciplined in time management. Since no one's looking over your shoulder, you need to be even more motivated and self-sufficient than you would be in the office to keep on track and not slack off. How are you going to keep your executive organized if you can’t keep yourself on track?
Know your value
Just like any other role, you need to own it. You should be committed to making your boss’s life as easy as possible and always being a step ahead. Being extremely efficient is mandatory in this role. Cisco CEO, John Chambers, recently described his long-time assistant of 25 years “a true business partner” and I can’t imagine a more accurate portrayal. Executives consider their EA’s to be their right hand men, or women… people. It’s a vital role to the organization, and to your boss. You, and your role, matter. Legit. If you are an EA, I am going to assume you love your job and wouldn’t want it any other way. Your executive needs you to have passion for what you do. If you can’t excel at the diverse demands of the position and don’t have the broad skill set, neither of you will be happy. And we all really just want to be happy, right?
Keep in touch
While working for a virtual company, it is imperative to keep communication fluent and frequent. It is easy to feel disconnected when working remotely, so ensure you are using all means available to keep that necessary connection with your team. There are many ways to connect these days. Video calls are ideal, as talking face-to-face increases the quality of the communication. (Did you know that 93% of communication is non-verbal?) When emailing, send and reply to emails in a clear and concise manner. Group text/chat is great for quick connections, like after you complete a big task, celebrate your accomplishment by sharing it with your team. Keep the lines of communication open to ensure everyone is on the same page. Present yourself as approachable to the rest of the team. Fostering these relationships within your team will add value to your working relationships and ensure you, and your Executives, success.
We’re curious. Virtual teams, we know, are become and more and more common. And we know an EA is an incredible and important part of a team. How many virtual EA’s are out there? Do you have any tips for managing your role in this unique environment? Comment below or tweet us and use the hashtag #VirtualEA to share your thoughts.