Due to COVID-19, many employees are now experiencing what it is like to work from home and employers are noticing less of a need to be office-based. From this, we are seeing a huge interest in virtual PA roles. There are so many benefits to remote working and with all the brilliant online tools out there, there is less of a necessity to be in the office full-time.
A fabulous candidate of ours, Amy-Leigh, shares her insight into what it is like to be in a virtual PA role, what her working day involves and how she manages those tempting home distractions!
1. What first attracted you to your current remote working position?
I really wanted something with a good work/life balance, and my current company is all about this. We have a limit of 40 hours per week that we are allowed to log, and nobody expects more than this. Also, working remotely has given me back over 3 hours per day, as I no longer commute to London.
2. What does your typical day look like?
I tend to log on at around 8am and finish at around 4pm. Sometimes this will change if I have meetings with anyone in the US, as I have to work later into the evening. On these days I either start later or take a longer lunch! I try to take at least 30 minutes for lunch, and I sometimes squeeze in a quick dog walk too.
I start my day by having a team meeting with our Senior Leadership, and the rest of my day is mainly video calls with colleagues to work on various tasks.
3. How do you overcome a slump in productivity?
I naturally tend to struggle at around 4pm, so I schedule my day to be finished around then if I can. Otherwise, I find a change of scenery works for me, so I try to walk my dog at lunchtime, or even a stroll to the kitchen to look in the fridge can help! I find that because I am on video calls a lot, so talking a lot, my energy stays more constant than it did when I worked in an office.
4. How do you maintain and work-life balance?
It is very easy to log into work outside of the normal working hours when you work remotely. I try very hard not to do this. Once I’ve logged off, that is it for the evening, except for emergencies. Otherwise, work can creep into every aspect of your day. I don’t keep work emails on my phone, so I’m not tempted to look. Our company is respectful of people’s time, so we all try not to contact each other on the weekends.
5. What are your potential distractions whilst working from home and how do you overcome them?
The TV is a huge one and it’s tempting to have This Morning on in the background! You have to be quite self-disciplined for virtual working to be successful, so I don’t put the TV on at all while I’m working. Snacking is a big distraction too, so I stick to lunchtime eating only during work hours. I also try to only respond to messages/calls from friends and family during my lunch break.
6. What skills do you think are necessary to be a successful remote worker?
You have to be able to self-motivate and also stick to a routine to stay focused. Being adaptable is also important, as I switch from email to phone calls to video calls several times a day.
7. How does working from home differ from working in a company office?
I find I’m more focussed when I work from home because there are fewer distractions like office gossip/politics, general chit chat, etc. During video calls, you find people stick to the agenda more, because people’s time is valuable. There hasn’t ever been a time when I’ve thought “I really need a company office to complete this task” – there really is no reason every EA couldn’t work remotely.
8. What has been your biggest work hurdle that you have had to overcome since starting this role?
Getting to grips with the software and technology the company uses was the main one for me. We use a lot of online platforms, as well as internal systems, and because there is no on-site training, it was a lot for me to get my head around. After a couple of weeks, however, I couldn’t live without them!
Loneliness is something I’ve heard other remote workers struggle with. I’ve personally not experienced this, as I am ‘face to face’ with people all day long, and I don’t mind working alone. Someone who really loves the office social scene probably wouldn’t adjust well to a 100% remote position.
9. What makes your day easier or who you couldn’t live without? i.e Online platforms, daily conference calls, etc
Zoom, Skype (video calling and instant messaging), G-Suite (we store all documents in the cloud – makes filing so much nicer!). We also use a software called Crossover, which is a tracking system on our laptops. It’s basically a modern version of clocking in and out of work so you can log your hours properly.
10. What advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about becoming a virtual assistant?
To make sure you’re suited to it before thinking about it. The actual job spec of a virtual assistant is the same as someone sitting in an office. It really comes down to whether a person is self-disciplined and self-motivated enough to create and stick to a working routine.