Software Tools that Make the Virtual Work Possible
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The virtual way of working is taking over the old fashioned style of having in-house staff. In-house staffing is comparatively expensive though it comes with the advantage of easy collaboration, this benefit is gradually diminishing due to the influx of virtual tools which are slowly bridging the distance gap. Here are top software applications that make our virtual work possible.
This software plays a crucial role, it’s what kicks starts the virtual working process. Most often at PixelsVA, we use Skype to interact with clients, either via voice, text chat and sometimes video chat as some customers have at some point requested a live view of office environs.
When we get to understand client needs and the client’s requests for an interview, it happens with the aid of this software as well. Daily work interactions are also made possible via Skype. Task update, basic file sharing, team chats, etc., all happen here.
For VAs whose position requires that they handle calls on behalf of the client either as a Customer support person or personal Assistant, a Skype Number is bought for the preferred country, or state and calls are diverted to our local numbers here. There are however other means of receiving and making calls aside through Skype.
The risk involved in working virtually is completely eradicated with this software. The fear of paying your VA but wondering whether or not the task is being done and hours are billed fairly does not exist anymore. With time doctor all these doubts are erased.
Time Doctor provides comprehensive time tracking, excellent reporting, poor time report, absent or late report, web app usage reports, etc. It also takes screenshots and mouse movements. This software does better monitoring than you would do yourself with your in-house staff.
At Pixels-VA Time Doctor is our official time tracking software. With this software installed clients can verify that the assigned VA is working during your preferred hours. You get weekly reports in your email that cover total work done by every VA on your team, a breakdown of how much time was spent on projects, screen shot recordings, etc. A client can log on anytime during working hours to check work activity of the VA or later to see what tasks were done during the day.
With Basecamp everyone is on track, on the same page and fully updated on projects. It is a Project Management software that is essential in managing the virtual workflow.
This web-based software makes it possible to have organized projects; it makes commenting on projects a breeze, files and all other documentations assigned to projects are intact. It creates an organized environment and allows you to keep track on issues in a well-structured form.
With Basecamp, you are always in tune with projects as you get email notification of all activities and can give quick response even when you are out of the office and on the go. It is mobile friendly and comes with Andriod and iOS apps. To do lists are streamlined and organized. Once tagged or assigned to a project you will receive updates on every comment made, image uploaded and any additions or subtractions made to projects.
Some key features aside the to-do list include project organization, email integration, group discussions, file uploads, task creation, file and document sharing, file labeling, client projects, event organizations, project permissions, agenda view, Basecamp search, project archiving, calendar view, etc.
We definitely cannot do without google apps, every VA has a Gmail account assigned to work.
a. Google Calendar: We have a weekly, monthly and yearly plan that keeps everyone on track and aware of pending events. With its reminder feature, you cannot miss out on the team’s schedule. Clients come from different countries all over the world; the calendar serves as a reminder of holidays, both national/bank holidays and personal holidays. The year’s public holiday goes on the calendar right from day one when a contract commences for both staff and clients. According to our company policy, Personal holidays should appear on the enterprise Google Calendar at least one month before a stated date.
b. Google Sheets: Here at Pixels VA we use Google sheets for saving usernames and passwords to the various accounts we use for work, this takes away the need to always ask for log-in details. If any new accounts are opened, it is updated here, and it’s shared with the relevant people within the team. We also use sheets for data forms that require more than one person working on it. The Andriod and iOS apps make it possible to make changes on the go.
c.: Important documents are shared and updated on a regular basis on Google docs. At Pixels, we employ the use of Google docs to open, edit and create web documents. These documents can be stored online and accessed from any computer, phone or tablet.
d. Google Drive: Drive allows the virtual work to be more flexible. All virtual assistants work from our office; we do not have any work from home VAs. However, if a VA has done his hours and needs to finish up work from home, they are entitled to it. This is made possible with Google Drive. All work related files are backed up here on Google drive, so you can get home and continue work on your PC with ease. With this system in place, should a VA take over work from another, all related files are in place since the Gmail account is for the company and not the individual.
e. Google Slide: When there is a procedure or order, or a step-wise way of doing things, Google slides makes it possible to put together a clear presentation. Training materials are uploaded here because slides tell the story better.
f.: Often we switch between Hangouts and Skype for daily work chats, it’s usually about client preference, but Hangout is reserved for conversations outside working hours and often between VAs. When you need to chip in something or brief statement over the weekend you can be sure it will get to VA via hangouts.
Huge files are shared using Dropbox, one advantage with Dropbox is the recipient may not necessarily have the software installed but can receive and have access to the document sent. Among Pixels-VA staff everyone has a Dropbox account, and the storage of the team documents is done here while personal staff storage is on Google drive.