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How Remote Assistants Complete Their Tasks

Executives in today's corporate world have a lot on their plate at any given time. Not only do they need to handle a plethora of routine work functions, but they also have the responsibility to make critical business decisions that will affect the future of their company.

With that in mind, it's no surprise that many executives enlist the aid of qualified remote assistants to help them accomplish some of their tasks in an orderly, efficient manner. As these assistants handle the details of day-to-day work, the executives are free to focus their attention on the "big picture" - their organization's overall strategy and direction. 

The following information provides more insight into how remote assistants can complete their tasks and how executives can most effectively leverage their expertise for maximum benefit. 

The Tools of an Executive Assistant 

The modern executive assistant will likely be working remotely (from home or possibly another office location). For this reason, the assistant will need access to (and be familiar with) a wide range of tools and software applications, including:

  • Remote desktop programs that allow executive assistants to remotely screen emails, update files and perform other tasks 
  • Project management platforms that help centralize and consolidate critical information in one place  
  • Time management and scheduling tools  
  • Video-conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype

Of course, in addition to the technical requirements of the job, executive assistants also need to demonstrate specific core competencies, including:

  • Strong interpersonal communication. Much of an executive assistant's job involves receiving, processing, and then applying specific information. The assistant needs to be a good listener and can clarify any areas of confusion through direct, highly targeted communication. 
  • Exceptional organizational skills. An executive relies upon their assistant to remind them of important upcoming events and keep their schedule full without overbooking it.
  • A collaborative personality. An assistant must work closely with their executive, and often several other members of senior management.
  • Innate professionalism. A highly professional assistant contributes to smooth relations with the executive and other stakeholders. In certain situations, the assistant may act for the executive in a representative capacity (for instance, when setting up an important meeting with a prospective client).
  • Good judgment and ability to problem-solve. A remote assistant may have to complete a crucial task without detailed parameters from their executive. Under these circumstances, sound thinking and problem-solving skills are essential.

An Experienced Assistant Can Do More with Less

One of the most significant advantages that an experienced assistant can offer their executive is accomplishing set objectives with minimal guidelines. Realistically, there may be times when an executive asks their assistant to achieve a particular goal without providing detailed directions on how to do so. For instance, an executive may ask the assistant to clear out their email inbox without indicating which messages (if any) they should save for future reference. 

In these situations, experienced assistants demonstrate their value by successfully achieving the goal without constantly asking for direction and clarification. In the example given above, the assistant may use their prior knowledge of the company and their own best judgment to determine which emails to delete, which ones to mark as "potentially important," and which ones to save in a separate folder. 

Executives Should Set Expectations with Regular Communication 

While some assistants may be more self-sufficient than others, it's still vital that executives provide them with clear guidelines regarding the goals they want to accomplish, their methods of completing tasks, and even their personal preferences. In addition, executives should be willing to provide regular feedback to their assistants. Remote assistants can only improve their job performance with clear, actionable communication from their executives.

Effective delegation of tasks can be the key that unlocks the greatest potential from an executive’s relationship with an assistant. Executives that clearly define the desired outcome and give the assistant the resources and authority needed have the best chance to make that outcome a reality. Executives should be patient as the assistant grows into their role and give credit where credit is due.

Even though the assistant's job is to make the executive's job easier, their relationship is a two-way street. When the executive invests time and energy to set up the assistant for success, they both benefit from the partnership. 

Final Thoughts 

In summary, remote executive assistants must be up-to-date on the latest technical tools and platforms that help them perform their work. They also need to cultivate and demonstrate critical skills, such as organization, communication, and problem-solving. In turn, executives need to set clear expectations and guidelines for their assistants to help them succeed. When executives and their assistants are on the same page, there's no limit to how helpful an assistant can be to a busy executive with a full plate. 

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