7 Tools For Collaborating With A Virtual Assistant
Work smarter, not harder.
Working in a virtual environment can present itself with some challenges. The ability to communicate clearly, along with the inability to read body language, sharing and collaborating on documents, and keeping all your clients personal details safe and secure whilst sharing them with your team are just some of the topics we will cover here.
These are not problems you are suffering with alone and fortunately there are some great pieces of software available to help alleviate the problems for you.
We thought we’d share some of the tools we use daily with you:
- Trello – This is a web-based, to-do list/project management tool. It is super simple to use. It enables us to store all the files, tasks, due dates, and discussions with the appropriate project. We use it for everything from on-going, open-ended projects to one-time, fixed-date projects. We have found that most virtual assistants and remote workers are familiar with it and use it with their other clients.
- Google Drive – We use this popular tool to share files with one another. It just keeps getting better and better. Once you sync a file from your computer to Google Drive, you can then share a link to that file with your co-workers or invite them to a shared folder. It’s simple and easy to use. In fact, we have all our documents synced with Google Drive, so we can share any file at any time without having to move it to a special folder. It also serves as a great backup system should we need it.
- Google Calendar – This is a web-based application that makes it easy to share our calendar with our teammates on a need-to-know basis. We break our calendars into various sub-calendars (e.g., speaking engagements, project deadlines, appointments, media interviews, etc.) and then share the relevant categories with the appropriate co-worker. This insures that everyone is aware of each other’s commitments and we don’t end up double-booked.
- GroupMe – This is a web-based application and is also a terrific iPhone app. It is designed specifically for group chat. We use this for talking among ourselves when we do live events. It ensures that everyone is able to communicate to everyone else in real-time. It is less cumbersome than using simple text messaging, particularly with larger groups. You can also send direct messages to individuals within the group, but we tend to use Messages for that (see below).
- LastPass – This is a password management program that allows us to share passwords and login credentials with co-workers while reducing our security risk. We can communicate this information in one of two ways. If we give them a password, they can see it and use it. If we share it, they can’t see it (it remains masked), but they can use it. If you have qualms about sharing sensitive financial data—and you should—this program helps. It is not 100% secure—a dedicated programmer can still get your passwords—but it will protect you from non-techie, unethical assistants.
- Messages – We use this for normal, one-on-one text communication and small, ad hoc groups. (If it involves a more permanent group or is larger than three people, we use GroupMe.) We used this initially on our iPhones and iPads. However, when we discovered the Mac desktop app, we started using it even more. (It replaced iChat.) We prefer discussions within Basecamp or regular e-mail, but for quick questions and short exchanges of information, text messaging is fine.
- Skype – While nothing beats a face-to-face meeting, Skype comes close. The best part is you avoid the hassle of travel. We use this application for individual and small group meetings. For example, we have a weekly management meeting with our managers. With Skype, it’s almost like being in the same room together. We can see one another, share screens, and exchange text links or other relevant information. We can even record the session if necessary.
The tools are constantly improving. We are always discovering and experimenting with different ones. But the current crop is making possible what people could only imagine just a few short years ago. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.