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#WorkTrends: Hiring Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants (VA) offer young brands the flexibility to focus on other areas of the business.

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From multitasking between meetings and meal prep to the issues of internet and noise levels, many of us are still trying to adjust to this new normal. But we don’t have to do it alone. Big and small companies are hiring helpers to come to the rescue. These virtual assistants (VAs) and freelancers can take on the tasks that give employees a break and keep the business going.  

Nathan Hirsch, co-founder of Outsource School, came to #WorkTrends to talk about this new trend. For entrepreneurs and leaders he’s got one rule of thumb: bring in help before you’re in dire straits early. “When you can’t walk away from your business for a week, a moment — that’s usually a good indication that you need to hire followers” — as he calls VAs.

The same approach applies as with bringing in any outside help: make sure everyone is on the same page and onboard well. Outsource School uses an onboarding process called SICC: Schedule, Issues, Communication and Culture. VAs also receive standard operating procedures for their first week at work and are tasked with not just reading them, but asking questions. A quiz determines whether they need more training or not — and at that point, if the fit isn’t right, each party may decide to part ways. “That’s how you protect your time, protect your investment and build trust,” he noted. 

For managers, Nathan advises “making sure you set those communication channels up front” to get the process aligned — whether that includes emails, Slack, WhatsApp, Viber or all of them. Then coach VAs on which to use when. For VAs, asking for support when needed is critical. And I predict that we’re going to see more VAs coming onboard now and into the future, so this is an option I’d take seriously. 

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion, so I encourage you to have a listen for yourself. Got feedback? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter or on LinkedIn. (And make sure to add the #WorkTrends℠ hashtag so others in the TalentCulture community can follow along.)

Find Nathan Hirsh on Linkedin and Twitter

(Editor’s note: This month, we’re announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)


Imagine this World for a moment. Computers no longer exist. Mobile technology is a fantasy we desire, but it’s not obtainable because it only exists in science fiction movies. Medical equipment like MRIs that can detect cancer in its early stages, and the da Vinci robotic device that reduces human surgical error are only ideas on a piece of paper. The very thought is unsettling, isn’t it? We are a society so enveloped in, and by technology, that the very thought of losing these items is unconscionable. Simply, we are technology dependent with adapted lifestyles to incorporate technology into our lives without hesitation or resistance. As the demand for more and better technology increases every day, so does the demand for those individuals who long to create the next generation of technological advancements. Enter the enthusiastic technical guru also known as a nerd.

Understanding the Misunderstood

Techies are assumed to be nerds or geeks, but that’s a fictitious negative stereotype cooked up by Hollywood in an attempt to sell movies and gain sponsors for television advertising. They don’t necessarily wear pocket protectors in their shirt. Not all are introverts who prefer the company of a motherboard or programming code to the company of co-workers, though being introverted is not a societal deficit… another group stigmatized without warrant. Techies conceptualize and create at the intersection of various strengths like mathematical ability, engineering know-how, mechanical aptitude, and the curiosity of a cat. All are commendable traits. Further, they possess the inquisitive nature necessary to continue exploration for the next, best thing, or at the very least, improve functionality of the current technology.

Why Don’t We “Get” Them?

They help the World to better collaborate, communicate and be productive, but as a group, they often fall under hard times in regards to their reputation. I find it ironic that as a society so dependent on the conceptualizations and creations of these individuals, we unfairly brand them with labels perceived through our own insecurities, perhaps.

As a result, this labeling created a group of people called closet geeks. These people fear being discovered and negatively labeled by the world-at-large, in part because, they are misunderstood. Some may feel they lack strength in numbers and may not want to step out of the shadows of their comfort zone lest to be branded. Others don’t want their creative juices to be commented on only because they “get this stuff” because they are geeks or nerds. Makes me wonder if there is a bit of geek-envy going on. Could there be people who desire the unbridled creativity of the techie brain, but wish to avoid the burden of negative labeling? I guess there are people who will not step up to admit it, but given the on-going demand for what the prodigies of the label have to offer, I will say, yes there are. Really, who doesn’t want to invent or create the next best thing?

Blazing Trails

People like Steve Jobs helped to assuage some of this stigma, as does the new generation of technological entrepreneurs that are cropping up in startling numbers. Also, the overall need and demand for the next, best technological advancement touching any facet of life whether that be in a business capacity or something that affects us personally has helped some people move past the nerd labeling. But we’re not quite there yet. Societal stereotypes and gaining buy-in to these erroneous perceptions is much easier than expunging these beliefs. As with any group underserved, some techies have risen from the ashes of being stigmatized to stand united and take pride in having their geek on.

Others have serendipitously come upon discoveries in ways that were not intended, but that didn’t keep society from labeling them. Take the microwave oven for example. Its humble beginnings started when someone standing too close to a machine emitting microwaves noticed that his chocolate bar had melted in his pants pocket. Point in case, not all technological advancements came about due to a specific intention to invent. Sometimes techies stumble upon advancements that can be every bit as exciting as intentionally working towards the goal.

So I challenge everyone reading this post to think about the last time you said, “Wouldn’t be great if X, Y and Z could do this?” Or, “I wish we had an X, Y and Z because I could get my work done so much faster.” You’ve said this, haven’t you? Of course you have. News flash… we all have. Does this make us geeks? Well, that’s a self-discovery you’ll need to determine on your own. In the meantime, keep enjoying the fruits of labor from our techie friends, and remember; a world without techies is like a day without sunshine.

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#WorkTrends Recap: Spouses Working Together

There are so many entrepreneurs who have built businesses from the ground up — alongside their partners — but not many talk about the intersection of work and personal lives.

During this week’s #WorkTrends show, Maria Orozova and Scott Thomas addressed how husband-and-wife entrepreneurs can work cohesively and collaboratively in the business world. They will share their first-hand experiences of working together as partner agency owners.

Here are a few key points Maria and Scott shared:

  • Knowing how your partner works is key to success
  • Boundaries are important – leave work at work and leave home at home
  • Opening the lines of communication for all matters will make working with a spouse more harmonious

Missed the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here.

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). In two weeks, on July 13, host Meghan M. Biro will be joined by Josh Allan Dykstra to discuss how to ignite the fire and motivate a team.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

photo credit: HA0478-029 via photopin (license)

#WorkTrends Preview: Spouses Working Together

There are so many entrepreneurs who have built businesses from the ground up — alongside their partners — but not many talk about the intersection of work and personal lives.

During this #WorkTrends show, Maria Orozova and Scott Thomas will address how husband-and-wife entrepreneurs can work cohesively and collaboratively in the business world. They will share their first-hand experiences of working together as partner agency owners.

Join us as we discuss how to:

  • Step forward in your businesses and be confident in forging your own paths
  • Break the norm by taking non-traditional approaches to partnerships
  • Build a foundation to feel comfortable when working alongside your partner

We will also review other useful tips you can use every day to make working with a spouse more harmonious.

Spouses Working Together

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, June 29 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro and guests Maria Orozova and Scott Thomas as they discuss how spouses can balance working together.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, June 29 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1. How can you assess beforehand if you will work well with your partner? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q2. What are the pros and cons of working with your partner? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q3. How can people define boundaries between their personal and professional lives? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community, LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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