Most of us that have been working in the PA industry for a while now will have heard of the phrase ‘the tech savvy assistant’. It might have cropped up on your job specs and been discussed during your most recent job interview. But what does it actually mean? Here are my thoughts on what it means to be a tech savvy assistant!
The obvious – Microsoft Office
I think this one goes without saying. Assistants have to be able to use Microsoft office (in all of its different varieties). To be a tech savvy assistant you must have an advanced knowledge of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. You should be confident in using these programmes to the point that you can show other colleagues and your Executive how to use them. There are other office packages that Assistants will probably end up using from time to time, but Microsoft isn’t going anywhere and neither are the core programmes.
If you do have an understanding of say, Apple iWorks or Google Docs, that is also going to work in your favour and make you even more tech savvy!
It’s not just about being able to send an email. Tech savvy assistants will know how to conduct themselves while communicating through technology. It could be that you are using lots of different platforms to communicate with your Executive, colleagues and maybe even clients. So, a tech savvy assistant will know which tool to use for each communication, the tone of voice to use depending on the message and the channel and how to ensure everything is sent to the right group of people. It’s about remaining professional even if you are using more relaxed forms of communication such as WhatsApp or Slack.
Within every organisation there is an internal programme that everyone has to use. This could be simple technology such as the programme that lets you book your annual leave or it could be your organisation’s CRM system. Whatever it happens to be, you need to understand it and know how it works. You might not be the expert, usually that is someone in IT, but you will still get asked questions about how to use it and a tech savvy assistant will have the answer or knows someone who does, which leads me on to my next point!
A good working relationship with your IT department
Okay, you can be really tech savvy, but the likelihood of you knowing how to fix an iPhone is pretty slim. So, a tech savvy assistant will also have a good working relationship with their IT department or their IT support team if that is outsourced. The people that know how to fix things quickly need to know that you are an EA and when you call, they need to come running! As an aside, it is quite handy if you do know where to go for IT queries because you will get asked a lot!
How many times do you get told that the photocopier / printer / coffee machine / insert other office based machine is broken? All the time right? Now, I’m not saying for one second that you should don a pair of overalls, get out your tool kit and start banging the machine with a wrench – that is not a good use of your time! What I am saying is that you should know how to fix a paper jam or change the toner. This is all part of being comfortable around technology and keeping your office running smoothly. That is a tech savvy assistant right there!
It’s an old fashioned skill, but still totally needed to be a tech savvy assistant. How many times have you sat in your Executive’s office while they spend an excruciating amount of time punching out an email with two fingers? Yup, a lot right? Can you imagine them writing a report? It would take forever. If you can touch type, hell, if you can type with more than two fingers, you need to be typing up stuff for your Executive. Touch typing is a great skill to have and it means you can shift through emails, reports, letters, presentations much much quicker.
The wonderful world of social media isn’t going away. You might not use social media in your current role, but you probably will in the future, so it is really important that you have a good understanding of the various platforms and how to use them. Updating Executive’s social media profiles is a very sought after task for PAs and tech savvy assistants will be able to do that, no sweat.
Getting the best out of the technology you use
A tech savvy assistant will know the tips and tricks to get the best of the technology that everyone uses. It is such a bonus if you know the shortcuts. To get you started have a look at our series of Assistant hacks for Microsoft Office.
Keeping up to date with the latest tech, software and apps
Lastly, a tech savvy assistant will keep up to date on all the latest technology, software and apps that will help you, your Executive and your organisation. Technology moves so quickly, there is always something new to check out or try. Don’t be afraid to try new things, if they don’t work, who cares? A tech savvy Assistant will be comfortable making suggestions and implementing new technology.