The Definitive Virtual Assistant Onboarding Checklist

Posted on Sep 6, 2023
By Kerry Anne Nelson
9 min read
the definitive virtual assistant onboarding checklist
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Getting Started: Unpacking the Virtual Assistant Onboarding Process

The world of work is shifting beneath our feet. The rise of the remote virtual assistant has become a game-changer in today’s business landscape. These individuals offer a diverse range of services, from scheduling appointments to managing social media for clients. But how do we begin working with these invaluable new team members? It’s all in the onboarding process, an essential foundation for building a productive working relationship with your potential client.

virtual assistant being onboarded

Virtual Assistants: Your Secret Weapon

Let’s dig into what a virtual assistant (VA) does. They are skilled professionals who provide various services to businesses from remote locations. From administrative tasks to sales calls, VAs wear many hats. These wizards of the workplace can save time and streamline processes for your business. But to truly unleash the potential of your new virtual assistant, you’ll need a robust, well-thought-out onboarding process.

Navigating the VA Onboarding Process

The process of onboarding isn’t simply a fancy term. It’s a strategic approach to welcoming new team members, whether they are VAs or in-house employees. This process ensures your new hires have a clear understanding of their tasks, access to necessary tools, and a grasp of your company’s culture. In essence, onboarding sets clear expectations and ensures the whole team is on the same page from day one.

orientation call with new va

The Why Factor: The Need for a Solid Onboarding Process

You might ask yourself, “Why bother onboarding virtual assistants?” It’s all about enabling your business to grow and flourish. A structured onboarding program can reduce confusion, improve productivity, and foster a positive working environment for your clients. Without a clear process, you risk creating chaos, resulting in inefficient operations, frustrated team members, and unhappy clients.

Dodging Roadblocks: The Perils of Onboarding Without a Process

Onboarding without a structured process can be a recipe for disaster. It can lead to communication breakdowns, task mismanagement, and a lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities. For example, if a new employee is unsure about their tasks, it can result in mistakes that cost both time and money. It’s about setting up your new VA and your business for success from the start.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Onboarding Your New Virtual Assistant

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s walk through the steps of onboarding your new VA.

  1. Welcome Your VA: Start by sending a warm welcome email introducing them to your company and team. This will set a positive tone for your professional relationship. Set a time to both be face-to-face to continue onboarding, as this will improve the communication, as well as ensure understanding from both sides.
  2. Provide Essential Information: Give them the necessary details about your company such as its mission, vision, and the products or services it offers. Ensure they understand their role and how it contributes to your business.
  3. Define Their Role and Responsibilities: Clearly outline their duties and responsibilities. It’s essential to be clear about what tasks they will handle and what results are expected from them.
  4. Set Clear Expectations: Discuss your expectations in terms of work hours, communication style, key performance indicators (KPIs), and the goals they should be aiming to achieve.
  5. Share Important Contacts: Make sure they know who they can contact for different issues or questions. Include all relevant internal and external contacts.
  6. Provide Necessary Training: Provide them with any necessary training materials to perform their tasks effectively. This could include tutorials, guidelines, or manuals for using specific software or tools.
  7. Provide Access to Necessary Tools and Platforms: Share the usernames and passwords for any systems or platforms they’ll need to access. Ensure they understand the security protocols surrounding these tools. Use tools like LastPass to share passwords confidentially while allowing global updates to these when passwords need to change.
  8. Assign Initial Tasks: Start by assigning simple tasks and gradually increase their complexity. This allows them to become familiar with their new work environment while also providing them with an early sense of achievement.
  9. Implement a Regular Check-in Routine: Establish a regular schedule for check-ins to provide feedback, answer any questions, and discuss any challenges or obstacles. This could be a daily or weekly meeting, depending on your and their needs, and will likely reduce over time.
  10. Encourage Open Communication: Make it clear that they can reach out to you with any questions or concerns. Open communication fosters trust and makes your VA feel valued and part of the team.
  11. Provide Constructive Feedback: Regularly provide constructive feedback to help your VA improve their performance and grow professionally.
  12. Offer Opportunities for Skill Development: If there are certain skills you would like your VA to develop, offer resources or opportunities for training. This will help them become more valuable to your business over time.

Remember, onboarding is a process that takes time and patience, but it’s an essential step towards building a productive and successful working relationship with your new VA.

Tailoring Your Onboarding: The Journey to Success

Creating a process for onboarding isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour. It requires an understanding of your business needs, the VA’s role, and the dynamics of remote work. This means considering aspects like time zones, communication preferences, and tech tools. Remember, the goal is to build a mutually beneficial working relationship where your VA feels valued and is able to contribute effectively to your business. This will not only onboard clients effectively but will also make your business a success.

new va being onboarded

The Power of Personalisation in the Virtual Assistant Onboarding Process

There’s more to onboarding a new VA than just covering the basics. One often overlooked aspect is personalisation. This involves understanding and integrating the new virtual assistant’s personal preferences and work style into your business processes. This not only makes the VA, or the new assistant, feel valued but can also boost productivity and job satisfaction.

Enquire about the new virtual assistant’s preferred working hours, or discuss agreed hours and their favourite communication style. Do they like being briefed over video calls, or do they prefer detailed emails? 

Understanding these nuances can go a long way in creating a comfortable working environment for the VA and fostering a strong work relationship with the new client.

Honing the Art of Communication

Communication is the lifeblood of a successful virtual assistant business. Given the remote nature of the job, establishing clear, effective channels of communication with your new VA is paramount. From setting up a company email to sharing essential documents, every detail matters. It’s important to remember that the goal is not just to communicate but to create a dialogue where both you and your new virtual assistant feel heard and understood.

The Importance of Schedules and Expectations

One significant aspect when it comes to onboarding a virtual assistant is setting transparent expectations right at the outset. This includes discussing the new VA’s availability ahead, outlining the initial tasks, and clarifying the work hours. New clients should also prepare talking points for the discovery call, covering everything from the new VA’s role to the nitty-gritty of the payment terms.

Let’s consider another potential client who’s in the process of hiring a new VA. The client goes beyond just enumerating all the assignments and shares a comprehensive view of the company’s goals and the VA’s role in achieving them. This gives the new VA a sense of purpose and helps them align their efforts with the company’s objectives, ensuring the whole team is working towards the same goals.

business owner setting expectations in an onboarding session

A Learning Curve: Adapting and Evolving

The virtual assistant onboarding process is not a one-and-done deal. It’s a dynamic, evolving process that requires continual fine-tuning. A savvy client knows that feedback is essential in this journey. Regular check-ins are great opportunities for the client and the virtual assistant to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and how they can improve. Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a seamless partnership where both the client and the VA can grow and succeed together.

scheduling an onboarding call with va

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s delve into some frequently asked questions that haven’t been answered in the article but may be on the minds of those venturing into the process of onboarding a new virtual assistant.

What if my VA resides in a different timezone? How does that impact the onboarding process? 

Different time zones shouldn’t impede the onboarding process. With effective communication and the use of scheduling tools, you can easily arrange meetings that accommodate both parties. Quite often when hiring a VA you will be in different timezones, whether in the same country or internationally. 

This should be something to be mindful of when hiring – for example, someone in Australia may be better suited to a VA from the Philippines, whereas someone from USA may be best suited to finding a VA from South America.

How should I handle sensitive company data during the onboarding process? 

Ensure you have proper security measures in place. Sharing sensitive information should only be done through secure channels. Some businesses also have VAs sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) before they start.

Use password management tools to share passwords securely and confidentially.

How long should the VA onboarding process take? 

There’s no fixed timeline, as it depends on factors such as the complexity of the VA’s role and their familiarity with the job. Typically, it can range from a week to a month, but don’t be alarmed if you feel like longer is necessary – it’s not a bad thing to support your VA – just ensure you’re not micromanaging.

What if my VA has limited experience with the software tools used in my business? 

Training needs to be part of the onboarding process. Some software providers offer online training, or you might consider investing in professional training for your VA.
Alternatively, some one-on-one time with yourself, or another member of the team with experience with this software will be invaluable in your new VA’s learning.

How frequently should I check in with my VA during the onboarding phase? 

Regular check-ins are crucial during the onboarding process. This could be daily in the initial stages, then reduced to a frequency that suits both parties.

What happens if the onboarding process doesn’t go as planned? 

Flexibility is key. You run a business – you know not everything will always go to plan!
Be prepared to adjust your approach based on the VA’s learning pace, their feedback, and any unforeseen issues that may arise.

A Final Note: Building a Legacy with Your Virtual Assistant

Onboarding a new VA isn’t a task to be taken lightly. It’s a significant step that can shape the future of your business. Your VAs aren’t just there to complete tasks; they’re an integral part of your team, your business, and your legacy. So, take the time to thoroughly onboard your new VA. Communicate clearly, and foster a supportive working environment. Your business will thank you for it!

Remember, your VAs are here to help your business grow, so let’s give them all the information they need to begin working with gusto. After all, your success is their success, and together, you can make an indelible impact.

Kerry Anne Nelson

About Kerry Anne Nelson

Kerry Anne Nelson is the founder of Operation Verve and is a qualified first-class Honours graduate with more than 8 years of experience in education.

Kerry Anne Nelson is a workplace processes architect and uses her Lean Six Sigma training to maximise her years of experience in business management, education, and team leadership to help clients achieve lasting business growth.