EP 004: Take a Human-First Approach to Virtual Assistant Work

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When asked to reflect on her life and career before joining Don’t Panic Management as a virtual assistant, Kimberly Voorhis conjures up a very specific scene in her mind’s eye. She’s sitting in her office at the engineering office for a local city, gazing longingly out the third-floor window at 3 p.m. Her work is completed for the day, but she is expected to sit at her desk until 5 p.m.

While this rigid way of working feels incredibly foreign to Kimberly now, for many years, it was all she knew. Remote work was an alien concept to many just a few short years ago, and it was hard to imagine a career possibility outside of an office. Kimberly remembers that before she joined Don’t Panic Management, she only had one remote worker friend, and at the time she assumed that friend, well… didn’t work.

What inspired Kimberly to leave the world of the traditional office and enter the unknown of virtual assistant work? Ultimately, it was her desire to find a more balanced way to live the life she wanted.

Kimberly and her husband are foster parents. They opened their home and hearts to a son and, shortly thereafter, welcomed in his two sisters. It quickly became obvious that Kimberly could not sustain a commute and set office hours while also raising three children. The competing priorities tugged at her, and she constantly felt she was letting either her work, her children, or her husband down.

Once she discovered virtual assistant work, everything changed. It freed her up to be present in all areas of her life. As Kimberly astutely notes, that’s exactly what clients seeking virtual assistants are hoping to find, too: the time and space to live a life they love.

Even when things get crazy between work and personal demands, Kimberly keeps a positive attitude. She finds gratitude in the small things, and that keeps her going.

She’s also deeply focused on the relationships she builds with her clients. She does her best work when she develops a personal connection with her clients. And Kimberly notes that’s true for all assistants—it helps them to know where you’re coming from.

Do you have to block out afternoon time to pick up your little ones from daycare every day? Are you experiencing a stressful time caring for a sick loved one? Do you have certain expectations about how your virtual assistant communicates with you? Let your VA know about both personal and professional things as they come up.

Kimberly is a big proponent of the human-first approach and says the more you let your VA in, the better equipped they are to support you. Sometimes, your VA is even able to identify opportunities to take things off your plate that you would have otherwise missed. They may even know of a tool from working with another client that would help streamline something you’re trying to do. The more context and backstory you can provide to your VA, the greater the likelihood you’ll find a great solution through teamwork and communication.

But this kind of relationship takes trust and time. Kimberly says the most important thing for those new to hiring a virtual assistant is to remember that, no matter how amazing they are at their job, a VA is not a mind-reader! The more explicit you can be about your needs from the start, though, the quicker you’ll get to a place in your relationship where your VA can seamlessly anticipate your needs.

In the end, it’s all about communication, honesty, and heart. A great VA will bring all three to the table, and when you meet them halfway, you can build a beautiful working relationship together.

Key Takeaways

  • Find the right virtual assistant for your working style. Do you need someone to be on-call throughout the day, or are you looking for someone to do in-depth research that can happen outside of office hours? No matter what you need, there’s a VA for that!
  • We’re all human, and we’re all striving toward the same goal: to do fulfilling work that allows us to live a great life. Going into the working relationship with that fundamental understanding and a respect for where others are coming from sets you up for success.
  • Give your VA the backstory. Providing them with the full context on any task empowers them to do the work efficiently and effectively.

Top Quotes

“My work-life has shifted over the years based off of the needs of my personal life. And that’s one of the things I love about being a VA.” – Kimberly Voorhis on the pros of virtual assistant work. Click To Tweet “I’m so grateful for the ability to have a flexible job that it makes me want to work harder to get the job done and to be present for my clients.” – Kimberly Voorhis on what keeps her motivated as a VA. Click To Tweet “We’re all humans. If I’m experiencing a chaotic environment at some seasons of my life, it’s likely that my clients are, too. Let’s recognize that.” – Kimberly Voorhis on building connections with clients. Click To Tweet

Resources From This Episode

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