12 Tools You Need to Be an Effective Virtual Assistant

The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Employee: Part IV

Last time, we talked about the things you need to know about being a virtual assistant in the Philippines including the legal side of things, cultural differences, and the payment methods available. We hope the past few informational articles have helped clear up some questions about the industry and you have taken the leap to get hired as a VA.

If that’s the case, congratulations! Being a VA is incredibly rewarding and can change the way you work. But you should also be thinking about how to be the best VA possible and that means learning about the online tools available to you to make your job easier, smoother, and more efficient.

For communication, project management, time tracking, and organization, these are the best tools to be familiar with:

Communication

As a remote employee, communication is vital to your ability to do your job and is also beneficial in building a good relationship with your new colleagues (who are likely to be far away from you).

Slack

Slack is perhaps the most popular tool for any workplace, so you may already be familiar with it and how it works. But in case you aren’t, Slack is a messaging tool that integrates the entire office onto one platform – earning it the moniker as a “virtual office”. It allows employees to message each other privately or message groups of people through channels that can be set for different specific purposes and projects. It can host multimedia messages which means you can send photos, files, URLs, and even GIFs seamlessly.

It is extremely popular because it also allows the integration of apps like Google Drive and other industry-specific ones that make work and communication easier.

Skype

Practically everyone on Earth is familiar with Skype. It’s a video chat and voice call-providing platform that can be accessed on many devices. Skype can facilitate group meetings, one-on-one meetings and discussions, and can generally help build a close relationship between members of remote teams who might not otherwise be able to see and talk to each other.

Skype also facilitates screen sharing, which can help massively with team projects and training sessions.

Gmail

This is an extremely obvious one, but it is worth noting that a good VA should be familiar with the interface of the most popular email platform. Not only does this help you organize your own incoming work and communications, but many employers task their VAs with sorting out their own emails. It can pay off to be familiar with the platform and to know how best to organize emails.

Project Management

Chances are, you won’t be tasked with making the decision about which project management tool is best to use. But it’s likely that you will have to use them eventually when you join your new team. Impress your boss on your first day by showing familiarity with these project management tools that they will probably be using.

Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management tool that is designed to be an all-in-one platform that combines project management, messaging, discussion, scheduling, scheduled check-ins, reporting, and file storage. It also allows clients to check in on project progress with members of the team and to view updates (that the team chooses to share).

It’s an extremely popular tool because of its ease-of-use, simple design, and for the fact that it allows teams to combine the formal discussions and tasks of their projects with their informal day-to-day discussions on one platform.

Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker is another project management tool that aims to bring people on a team closer to perfect collaboration. But unlike other tools, it puts a focus on the story of a project and makes narration and building a focus of the project. 

It’s a suitable tool for people who work in design or developing wherein building up the features of a project is more important than just completing tasks.

Trello

Unlike other project management tools on the market, Trello focuses on making the most simple platform possible for productivity. It doesn’t have many of the features other tools have, but it does have an intuitive design that revolves around to-do lists that can be sorted according to its progress.

If you’ve never used Trello before, the learning curve is extremely short for getting used to the program.

Time Tracking

One of the biggest differences between remote employees and in-house staff that work in an office is the matter of time tracking. In an office, employers are comfortable knowing that people are performing work because they have evidence of their signing into work. For bosses with remote employees, they can worry that their remote team is not working when they are supposed to. 

That makes time tracking tools vital to the running of remote teams. It gives employers the assurance that their remote workers are completing work when they are supposed to and gives employees evidence of the work they have performed for evaluative purposes.

As a remote employee, it is almost certain that you will be given a time tracking tool to use or you will be required to choose one of your own. That’s why you have to be familiar with the popular tools on the market.

Teamwork

Teamwork has a number of features that make it a great project management tool, but one of its biggest draws for companies is its time tracking feature.

The time tracker tool on Teamwork allows remote employees to import their tasks from a project on Teamwork into the timer, which makes for easy tracking. It has an intuitive feature that automatically detects when a computer is idle that will pause the tracking, and resume again when the computer becomes active.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff is a popular tool that is solely designed for efficient time tracking and management. Its desktop and mobile apps are easy to download on an employee’s computer and can easily monitor the work they accomplish.

It has a timer that tracks every task, an online timesheet that shows a report of all the work that was completed in a given time frame, and has the optional feature of employee monitoring that includes letting the app take screenshots of your computer screen for a compilation of how much work was accomplished.

Clockify

A completely free app, Clockify is designed to track productivity times for teams. It allows you to track your hours, log the time in a timesheet report, and categorize your tracked tasks.

The reporting feature that can synthesize all your data into a handy report is extremely useful and time-saving for a remote employee who needs to send in daily reports. And if you’re working with a team, Clockify allows you to check in on what everyone else is working on and to see who has finished what task.

Other Useful Tools

Beyond communication, project management, and time tracking, an efficient virtual assistant can also improve their work with tools that can fill in other gaps.

Google Drive

The undisputed king of file organization, Google Drive is an essential tool for any remote employee or virtual assistant. It allows the storage of files, forms, sheets, and other files that can be uploaded and accessed on any device with an internet connection.

It also facilitates sharing and collaboration with an easy invitation feature on any file and folder sharing between members on a team.

World Time Buddy

For a remote team with employees all around the world, it’s useful to know when everyone is available for communication. World Time Buddy is a tool that allows you to view time zones side-by-side to view what time it is in certain places as well as to compare times. And for remote teams with many employees, World Time Buddy helps show common times everyone is awake to schedule and facilitate group meetings.

Dashlane

It’s very common for remote employees to share logins to important platforms, websites, and emails with each other to complete various tasks. It can be difficult to keep track of all those passwords and it can be unsafe to list them all on a spreadsheet. That’s where Dashlane comes in. It’s a tool that allows users to save passwords securely and auto-fills login info when it has it. And if it’s an extremely important log-in, Dashlane can also help generate a very strong password for maximum security.

Conclusion

Being a virtual assistant is a rewarding job. And advances in technology and innovation in the way people work means that there are many tools online that can help remote employees become more in touch with their work, their colleagues, and their company – even from a far distance. 

With all these tools, make sure you use them responsibly and professionally. Remember that your employer is counting on you to complete the work you need to do remotely.

If you’re interested in our other articles about becoming and being a VA in the Philippines, you can view our other articles on our blog.

And if you have any questions about this article or if you’re ready to get started on becoming a VA for reputable companies, contact us here, on our LinkedIn page, or on Facebook.