November 4, 2014
Web technology has revolutionised our ability to do business remotely, and means that commuting and an office space are no longer essential. A survey of business owners by Virgin Media Business recently predicted that 60% of office-based employees will regularly work from home by 2022. Consistently at the forefront of internet platforms driving remote working ahead is Google’s highly functional web software, providing the cornerstone to many virtual assistant’s working life. Just when we think there’s nothing more we need from our web tools, Google adds another feature we’ll never want to be without again; from sharing documents in real time with Cloud based Google Drive, to boosting and monitoring our clients websites using Google Adwords and Webmaster Tools.
Read on for the top 5 Google platforms that have transformed the virtual office.
The Cloud has has made telecommuting increasingly accessible to all, and cloud-based Google Drive allows you to store, share and update large spreadsheets, written documents, presentations, forms, images and videos with clients or within your team. You can have a number of users contribute to a spreadsheet of company contacts, work on a digital presentation with a client on the other side of the world, send large image heavy files over 25 MB via email or request information from new suppliers using forms. Drive is also a great way to back up work when travelling without an external hard drive.
If our client is on a long haul flight with no internet connection, they can still edit our shared documents by using the offline edit mode available to Google Chrome users, and as soon as the client is back online, we can see their amends. They can even open the document, highlight a word, sentence, or paragraph that needs changing, and click ‘Comment’ to notify us of new information, or check the documents revision history, colour-coded to each user under the ‘File’ tab in the menu bar.
We work virtually, which means we very rarely have a full working day on our clients premises; in fact many of our clients have never met our team face to face. It’s widely thought that 55% of communication is through body language, so to optimise and maintain a personable working relationship we utilise video conferencing tools such as Skype and Face Time. Google Hangout is another great video chat platform which has the advantage of being able to include up to 15 Google users at a time, a major bonus for when we have more than one virtual assistant working on a clients task or project, or when we simply want a team catch up.
Google Calendar is a key tool for many of our virtual assistants and their clients. It allows the client to show as much or as little of their schedule to their virtual assistant for diary management tasks. Some of our clients have multiple Google calendars, all stream lined with their smartphone, so their virtual assistant can easily check the individual or company’s availability in real time. We generally access the calendar’s to update or add new events, check the location of an up coming meeting before booking travel, or to prioritise important appointments and remind our client. Google also allows us to share a clients schedule, generally on a one to one basis with trusted long term contacts. We opt for the diary entry details to remain hidden, showing only whether our client is free or busy. Find out how.
Our virtual assistants often use a personalised email on behalf of each of their clients, particularly if they are acting as a company’s virtual PA, so they need to easily access several email accounts in one place. There are a few Gmail tools that help us to manage more than one account. We can switch between email accounts on the drop down menu on Gmail’s iPhone app, and can reply with our various desktop signature’s even when using our smartphone. We also have preset filters sorting our emails by sender, receiver and subject. Having a Google Business account means our team can have all of their mailboxes forwarded to one Gmail account, allowing them to monitor all emails in one place, whilst being able to quickly switch the ‘reply from’ address within an email. Learn how to add email addresses and aliases to your Gmail account here.
We use Google Sync to back up the calendar, notes and contacts from our iPhone’s data. This means our clients contacts are constantly updated, and providing we are using an email account from the same domain as them, they can ‘delegate’ this data to us, allowing us to liaise with even their most recent contacts on their behalf.
Want to try us for yourself? Find out more about PS Virtual Assistant’s services.