Gone are the days when employees necessarily have to be in the same office, or even same country as their boss. Skype allows meetings to take place in multiple locations around the world and the use of tablets means emails can be responded to anytime and anywhere (including the beach!)
One of the reasons I became a Virtual Assistant was the flexibility to allow me to travel for longer periods of time, I now have the freedom of being able take my laptop and work from any location around the world. This was probably one of the biggest benefits which attracted me to become ‘virtual’ and something which is becoming increasingly easy with advancing technology and the way people now tend to work.
Depending on where you are in the world, working on different time zones to your clients can be tricky but with plenty of planning and preparation in the lead up to your trip, your service needn’t be compromised.
Below are some tips which I followed recently whilst on holiday over Christmas in Melbourne, Australia:
- Out of courtesy, let your clients know you will be out of the country and emphasise that the service you provide will continue to operate as normal
- Create a timeline for your clients of when they can expect projects to be completed and discuss any potential issues which could arise before you head off. This will put their mind at ease, plus allows you to plan your holiday around a set timeline and gives you deadlines to work towards
- Be strict with the deadlines you’ve set, otherwise it looks unprofessional and may mean the client will start to chase. Not an ideal situation for either of you, especially if you’re on different time zones – the last thing you want is a panicked phone call in the middle of the night!
- Create a ‘work space’, whether it’s in your hotel room or a quiet spot on the beach, just somewhere which allows you connect to Wi-Fi, check in with clients and work without interruptions. It’s important to remain professional even though you’re on holiday, your clients won’t appreciate hearing your holiday companions in the background if they’ve scheduled a call with you. Chapel Street in Melbourne was perfect for cafés to work from, each one I visited had Wi-Fi plus great coffee..(Dukes being a particular favorite!)
- This may sound obvious but check time zones before you go to ensure you operate as you would from home. Being 11 hours ahead meant that I made sure I was online early evening so I was available in the morning UK time which maintained continuity with the clients I work for.
- Check your equipment before you leave (including which plug adapter you will need!), you might be able to work abroad but can your laptop? Try working from a different location before you head off, any technical issues can then be identified beforehand and of course it will be a lot easier to fix whilst you’re still at home. I invested in a tablet before I went away which was really useful for checking multiple email accounts whist being mobile.
- Have a contingency plan, what happens if you drop your laptop in the hotel pool?! Is there an Internet café nearby where you can work from? Is your work backed up? I found using Google Drive particularly useful as it allowed me to access all my documents from multiple devices. I also carried a USB stick with essential information just in case.
- Work smart – flight delayed or waiting for a connecting flight? Ensure you have everything you need in your hand luggage to be able to continue working, why waste precious holiday hours writing that report when it can be done whilst sat in an airport? Allow for not being able to connect to Wi-Fi, download everything you need beforehand so you can work whilst flying if necessary.
Finally….RELAX! You are on holiday after all and if you’ve prepared properly before you go away, you shouldn’t have too many (or hopefully any!) unscheduled interruptions from clients. They will appreciate the fact that you’re away and – providing the service you give them runs as you’ve arranged – your work/holiday balance should go as you’ve planned.
This article first featured on Virtues of going Virtual by Ruth Cole.
I am a Freelance VA and Part Time Office/Practice Manager passionate about my roles and the industry I am in. The reason I have started to write a blog aimed other admin professionals is not only to share tips/experiences, report from different industry events and connect with other EA’s/PA’s/Office Managers but also to showcase how much this role is evolving and highlight the multiple responsibilities which are now held by admin professionals.I am also a health and fitness enthusiast, particularly cycling, running and yoga (which I’ve recently got in to and I am now hooked!).
You can follow me on Twitter: @RoCoVirtual.