Strategies to Boost Remote EA Effectiveness

An executive assistant is invaluable to your leaders and managers, but the way they are working together is changing. Because of COVID-19, the transformation from office-based executive assistants to remote employees has been accelerated.

For many executives, this poses a problem. They are used to working in close quarters with their assistant. Working effectively with your remote assistant now that they are not ‘ever-present’ requires new strategies and processes.

7 Tips to Boost Performance When Working with Remote Executive Assistants

A remote executive assistant can provide the same level of service as one who is office-based. From scheduling calls and meetings to working on tasks within project management, as well as coordinating work and personal schedules, the value an executive assistant provides when working remotely need be no different.

Here is our advice to ensure you get the best from an executive assistant who is working remotely.

1.    Treat Your Remote Executive Assistant Like They Are in the Office

You’ll expect your executive assistant to know and understand the people you interact with, including colleagues at work, business associates and clients. In the office environment, it is easy to make casual introductions. Working remotely, these introductions must be stage-managed.

Ensure that meetings booked for you include an opportunity for virtual introductions with your assistant. This will help to build the intimate knowledge of your acquaintances that will prove invaluable to you down the line.

2.    Communicate Clearly

When communicating virtually, much of a message can be lost in translation. Even if communicating ‘face-to-face’ over a video connection, a great portion of essential body language is missing.

It is critical that you provide clear and concise instructions, and give an opportunity for your assistant to question and confirm. A good way to do this is to schedule a daily virtual coffee break with your EA.

3.    Include Your Executive Assistant in Team Events

The key to the effectiveness of your assistant is how comfortable they feel working with you and your team. When working in the office, relationships are developed naturally. When working with a remote executive assistant, you must be more proactive in helping these relationships to develop.

It’s a good idea to include remote executive assistants in team events, both virtual and in person. This will help to break down barriers and create a culture in which your assistant feels comfortable enough to discuss problems and issues with you openly.

4.    Choose Your Collaboration Tools Carefully

You will be delegating a lot of work to your assistant. How you do so will determine how successful your delegation is. There are several tools you can use to aid collaboration, including email, phone, video, online schedules, teamwork tools, and task managers.

Decide with your executive assistant how to collaborate when they are working remotely. This may include different channels for different types of work, or be dependent upon urgency. Project management systems and cloud-based documents will help you work seamlessly together and ensure that files are easily found when needed.

5.    Learn Your Executive Assistant’s Strengths

When working remotely, your assistant will be working autonomously for most of their working day. It is likely to be more difficult for them to access help if needed, and some tasks may take them longer to complete.

Take the time to understand your assistant’s strengths and delegate work that aligns with these. Where you identify weaknesses together, provide coaching and training opportunities that help turn these weaknesses into strengths.

6.    Have Your Assistant Document Your Working Processes

As you develop a greater understanding of how to work best remotely with your assistant, make sure that they document processes and your preferences. This will create a working manual of best collaboration practices, ensuring that they can answer more questions without feeling the need to contact you directly.

Maintain these process documents on a shared drive, so that you can review them, as necessary. These will also form an invaluable resource should you have the need to hire a new executive assistant in the future, as well as providing ownership of working practice to your current assistant.

7.    Help Your Executive Assistant to Plan Ahead by Planning Ahead

Executive assistants work most effectively for their executives when they can plan for them. Consider your own long-term goals and what skills and abilities your assistant will need to help you with these. If you know you have an important presentation to make in eight weeks’ time, today is the day to ensure that your assistant has the skill set to create a presentation with real impact on PowerPoint or Prezzi.

In addition, ensure  you hold a weekly wrap-up session to avoid missed deadlines and prioritize tasks for the week ahead.

Are You Working Effectively with Your Remote Executive Assistant?

Whether because of circumstances or design, if your executive assistant is now remote (full-time or part-time), how you work with them will change. These tips should ensure you maximize your executive assistant’s talents when they work remotely.

For help finding the most effective executive assistants in Chicago and Denver (whether office-based or remote), contact Lakeshore Talent today.

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