VDW Monthly Newsletter

Study Reveals Why Philippines Best for Australian BPO Outsourcing

A study recently carried out by The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), shows clearly why the Philippines is the favourite business-process outsourcing destination of Australian small and medium-sized businesses.

According the study-respondents, the benefits of outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants and other outsourcing providers in the Philippines include:

  • No time-zone difference between Philippines and Western Australia, and only two-hours difference from the East of the country
  • A highly literate and well-educated workforce
  • Fluency in the English language, spoken with a neutral accent
  • Savings of up to 70% in labour expenses, compared with the cost of equivalent skilled labour in Australia

These benefits make it easy for small businesses in Australia to access affordable services performed by skilled professionals, to do just about task which can be carried out remotely.

If the study results are anything to go by, the continued growth in both the BPO industry in Philippines and the small business community in Australia, together form the makings of a lasting and positive symbiotic commercial relationship between the two countries.

Certainly our Australian clients, who together comprise at least 80% of the Virtual Done Well customer-base, seem to agree. To check out some of the great feedback we’ve received from Australian small-business owners, visit our home page now.

VDW4U Feature Article

Is It Possible to Hire a VA for Cultural Fit?

If you run a small or medium-sized business, you doubtless understand the culture that exists within your organisation, and whether or not that culture is developing in line with prescribed objectives, or is one that you are actively trying to change.

Whatever your business culture looks like, you’re also aware that anyone who comes to work for you must be able to fit in and feel happy with the cultural values and behaviours.

Does this apply though, when you decide to hire a virtual assistant who may work from a location thousands of miles away and will likely never see the inside of your company’s office space?

Cultural Fit and Why it Matters

It’s important to note that the definition of “cultural fit” tends to be quite subjective, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll use it in the context of how someone “fits in” with the rest of your team.

In general terms, a virtual assistant whose personal values, work ethic, and personality gel with those of your internal team, will make for a more productive and valuable working relationship. There are a number of reasons why this should be, including the following:

  • A virtual assistant will enjoy working with you more if he/she is a cultural fit
  • You will be able to build more trust and so outsource more complex and business-critical tasks
  • Your VA will feel more engaged in your business and want to contribute more to its success
  • Your VA will be able to integrate more effectively with your team
  • There is a lower likelihood of communication problems and misunderstandings

How to Establish if a VA Will Fit in With Your Culture

It’s not necessarily easy to determine if an offshore VA candidate will fit in well with your local and/or existing virtual team. When interviewing for local employees, facial expressions and body language offer as many clues about a candidate as the answers they provide to your questions.

These clues may not be available to you when recruiting a remote-working virtual assistant, unless of course you assess candidates using visual communication tools such as Skype, which in fact, is a really good idea.

When hiring a VA though, you might not wish to go through a convoluted recruitment process as you might when hiring local staff, and frankly, you shouldn’t have to. However, it certainly makes sense to conduct an audio or better still, audio/visual interview with any candidates you think might be suitable.

While a Skype interview might not be the same as interviewing someone face-to-face, it’s still possible to identify certain key traits and qualities by way of a video conference call.

If you can get a sense that your candidate possesses all of the following qualities, he or she should be capable of fitting in with your team and its culture—perhaps not perfectly, but well enough to ensure you get the standard of service you desire:

A team player:

Because of the remote nature of the virtual assistant business, it’s not essential for a VA to be a lover of working in teams, especially if he or she is a freelancer working from home. Indeed, there are many clients and projects suitable for VA’s who largely prefer to work alone.

Assuming though, that you will want your VA to collaborate on projects with members of your internal business team, you should look for someone who does enjoy teamwork and can clearly demonstrate that fact.

Toughness and perseverance:

Any virtual assistant who displays these two qualities will probably be able to fit into just about any business culture. That’s because they are tough enough to suck up any differences in values that do exist between themselves and your local team, and because perseverance will drive them to overcome any barriers that such minor differences might present.

While this state of affairs would probably not be acceptable if you were recruiting for an in-house team-member, your virtual assistant will probably spend quite a lot of time working in isolation.

Therefore or she will not be exposed to minor cultural differences on a continuous basis. In such a scenario toughness and perseverance are good substitutes for more exacting qualities that might make someone a “perfect” fit.

Passion:

If your company culture has developed according to the wishes of its leaders, then the culture will be aligned with your business mission. It’s probably not wise to expect a virtual assistant—who will have no guarantee of tenure with your company—to wholeheartedly embrace your mission.

However, if you can establish that a VA candidate possesses passion for his/her own career, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll consider it his duty to align with your company’s mission, and values, for the duration of the time he spends working with you.

Professionalism:

This quality ties in closely with passion, in that a professional disposition is a hallmark of someone who takes his role, skill-set, and career seriously. A professional VA will therefore understand that he must be able to align with the culture and values of his clients’ businesses, and will hence self-assess his ability to do so, before agreeing to provide services.

In other words, a virtual assistant with a high degree of professionalism will draw his own conclusions about whether he should take your business on as a client. If he does agree to work with you, both you and he will know that a good match has been made.

An Easier Approach to Establish Cultural Fit

In essence then, it’s probably not realistic to search for a virtual assistant who matches your business culture perfectly, lest your recruitment process become very drawn out in the search for perfection.

Instead, audio/visual interviews can be designed to identify evidence of a few key qualities. These qualities (the ones mentioned above) characterise candidates who should have no trouble aligning sufficiently with your business culture.

Even so, finding the right virtual assistant can be a time-consuming exercise. If you would rather not go through an exhaustive process of searching, vetting, and interviewing freelance VAs, Virtual Done Well can take most of the work off your hands.

We may well already have a virtual assistant in our team who’s available and closely meets your needs. If not, we’ll perform our own recruitment campaign and present you with a shortlist of VAs to choose from or if you like, to interview first and decide which one you’ll work with.

If you want to get started, all you need do is let us know your requirements, and provide some information about the type of culture and values present in your organisation, and we’ll do the rest.

Bites from our Blog

Beware the Virtual Assistant Hype-machine

Ever since The 4-Hour Workweek hit the shelves of bookstores in 2007, a growing host of evangelists have been hyping outsourcing and virtual assistants as a sure way to slash hours from the working week.

While we certainly agree that a virtual assistant can save time and money for just about anyone under the right circumstances, the team at Virtual Done Well prefers to promote our services to those who really need them—small-business owners wanting affordable help with administration and other professional tasks.

With the hype-machine in full swing though, many people have been seduced into hiring virtual assistants without first thinking the decision through. Some of these people have then had a less-than-ideal experience and subsequently decided that outsourcing administration activities is a bad idea.

Our blog post this month looks into the mistakes that some people have made when hiring a virtual assistant for their small businesses. It also explains how a few simple preparatory steps can ensure you’re really ready to hire a VA and not just responding blindly to the ever seductive hype-machine.

Monthly Tips, Tricks and Facts

Struggling to Manage Your Blog? Ask Your VA to Help

Why not assign some or even all of your business blogging activity to a virtual assistant?

Here at Virtual Done Well, our VAs are commonly asked by clients to carry out the following blog-management activities:

  • Writing blog posts
  • Editing blog posts written by the business owner
  • Formatting and publishing completed blog posts
  • Finding and adding images to enhance blog-post content
  • Adding internal and external links to blog posts
  • Managing blog pages or websites (themes, widgets, menu items)
  • Checking links and fixing or deleting them if they are broken or dead

Blogging is a valuable tool for reaching and engaging your customers, but it’s also pretty time-consuming.

Along with many other administrative and organisational servicesbasic blog management tasks are well within the scope of just about all our VA’s expertise. If you need someone to actually write and edit your blog posts, we can even connect you with a VA specialising in US, UK, or Australian English copywriting.

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