Hire A Virtual Assistant And Have A Good Conscience About It
Understand the notion of ethics in business when you do learn how to outsource your work to freelancers all over the world. If you understand how to treat your VA the right way, you’ll have lots of success.
Whoever you are working with, wherever that person may live, treat them right
What is common sense for me, personally, sometimes gets ignored by others who are hiring virtual assistants, looking only for cheap work at possibly inhumane conditions.
I am not an encyclopaedia. But I have made real-life experiences with freelance workers from all around the world for many years now.
Outsourcing as a private person or a mini-business is way different than offshoring from a big enterprise. Still, the question: “what is business ethics in outsourcing all about?” is not only a duty towards your virtual co-worker, but also to your conscience.
The definition for business ethics when outsourcing can be boiled down to “treat others as you want yourself to be treated”.
Knowing the basics of Christian ethics in business is especially useful if you work together with virtual assistants from the Philippines. Even without discussing questions of faith here – there are many advantages for your business if you treat your online workers the right way.
Nothing beats the passion and effectiveness of a virtual helper who loves doing what he does for you. True loyalty cannot be bought.
I had the chance of meeting my full-time Virtual Assistant Jomvie in person in the Philippines. With him and other Filipinos, I made a first-hand impression of their manner to do business. If you really want to succeed in hiring Filipinos, you need to understand them well.
This is why I think the the combined view of my VA, Jomvie, and I will be helpful for you to understand Filipino business ethics.
Thinking Globally – Do your best to make outsourcing a win-win to both sides of the globe
The world is becoming more and more global. You can live in the US and hire someone from the Philippines, for example. But there are differences which you need to keep in mind.
Knowing about ethics in international business as an employer or a freelancer is a prerequisite to survive in this global world we now live in.
Attitude as an employer to your assistant
Think of global business ethics, which means that you need to be aware that your business partner lives in a country which is very different from yours. When you have a virtual assistant working for you, you need to know that they have a different…
- time zone
- attitude towards work and life
- cost of living levels
Attitude as freelancer to your boss
If you work for someone else, you are not only in it for the money. Always think about your business ethics and social responsibility that comes from
- the quality of your work
- and your work attitude.
If you only work for the quick money and instant gratification, you will fail in the long run. Learn how to do things well in order to live with satisfaction and success far in the future.
Bad business attitudes and lack of respect will hurt your success
Of course, there are many people who treat freelancers badly. Just because they live in a different, often poorer country than the employer does not mean that it’s OK to disrespect a virtual assistant. There are many cases of bad business ethics which can show you what not to do.
The top 3 mistakes for your outsourcing ethics in business you can make are:
- Lack of communication before, during and at the end of your cooperation. Worst case scenario: an employer firing his assistant without any further notice. Or a freelancer quitting the job without saying a word.
- Miss commitment- over committing but not delivering at all. This also goes both ways.
- Disrespect. Treating your employer (or assistant) as if he is stupid will come and bite you in the long run.
Of course, virtual assistants can also sometimes be at fault.
I started out as a private person trying out outsourcing for private projects only. I only recently started to think of me as a one-person enterprise.
That was also when I had to evaluate if my methods working with virtual assistants stood up to acceptable levels of ethics in business – which I am glad they did.
Honestly, if you spot any ethical issues on this whole website that looks cheesy, fake or slave-labor-ish, rush over and let me know!
My code of honor:
There is a strict set of rules I have set firmly into my mind of how I will treat my virtual assistants. I summarize it as my personal business ethics policy and try to live by it.
My virtual assistant from Pakistan as a case study in moral outsourcing
I have worked together with my virtual assistant for more than one year now. He does great work and is very affordable. The importance of ethics in business was clearer than ever to me when I started discussing having a virtual assistant working for me with my friends and met some difficult questions.
Since we share a high level of trust with each other, I profited from his experiences as a freelancer to ask some personal questions. This interview resulted in a thorough business ethics case study, all from the point of view of a virtual assistant from Pakistan.
Stay Tuned about global ethics in business for maximum success for your outsourcing business
I care about my virtual assistants being treated right. Still, it’s important to know what happens to ethics in business around us, especially in such a global world we are living in.
To stay tuned in, we’ll set up a business ethics news section. Head there to read about the newest pieces of information about ethical outsourcing from all around the world.
Timeless, must-read business ethics articles for any outsourcing business and cooperation will stay up as their own discussion pages. I’d love to see an honest, no-holding-back-discussion about the pros and cons of outsourcing going.
Bad business ethics in a global market place are the number one factor that will destroy your chances of being successful with outsourcing or working as a freelancer.
The easy part of outsourcing is to get the work done as an employer or making the money as an employee.
The hard part as an employer is to have good outsourcing ethics so that you can sleep at night and be proud about what you do to your friends.
The hard part for a virtual assistant is to impress your employers with the high quality of your work and your loyalty so that they cannot help but
- promote you
- raise your salary
- and even hire you full time on their team
If you choose to do outsourcing without any business ethics, this will hurt your success both as an employer and as an employee.
Bad business ethics as an employer of virtual assistants
As an employer, you spend the money for results. But paying money does not free you from your responsibilities.
The best bottom-line attitude to have as an employer is to think of your workers as respectable experts that you have the opportunity to have gained as associates. Always think about how you both can win.
You’ll know that you have ethical issues as an employer if…
…you catch yourself thinking like this:
- Cool, I can hire a “slave” in India for 1$/hour!
- This work is crappy and boring to do. I’m not even sure it needs to be done, but my assistant is so cheap, let’s just have him do it.
- This damn VA is stupid and doesn’t understand me. I better yell at him real good!
- Bah, I’ll fire the guy. There are millions like him out there…
…or any condescending, egotistical thoughts towards your associates…
Re-think your strategy!
If you have this approach about outsourcing to virtual assistants.
The worst things you can do to your virtual employee
Your employee depends on his work for you and trusts you to treat him fair and square.
There are not much more ways to hurt your assistant, both financially and emotionally.
- Firing a person without further notice
This will leave him in the rain, and he’ll lose time trying to figure out what happened (he may assume that there was a technical glitch) or trying to convince you not to fire him.
- Lack of communication by not exchanging your thoughts with your virtual assistant
How can your VA learn how to best do the work for you if you don’t tell him? Take the time to instruct your VA of what you want.
It doesn’t even need to take that long: a quick video using screen recording software takes minutes and can clear up tons of misunderstandings instantly.
- Shouting or insulting your employee
You know this would be wrong if you had a person right in front of you.
Don’t go there. It’ll make you look weak and will lower your self worth. And it’s rock bottom even for bad business ethics.
What good are you as an employer if you raise your voice against someone working on the other end of the world? Especially if he or she comes out of e.g. an Asian culture, where politeness and respect is of highest importance?
- Badmouthing your VA
It’s perfectly possible to fire someone and leave him an unnecessary evil feedback to “get back at him”. You won’t gain from it.
It’s possible to hide excessively bad feedback on most outsourcing companies’ feedback scores. Also, you might be kicked off from the outsourcing service.
And honestly, do you want to kick off someone that might know lots about you, your business, and might escalate the revenge even further by attacking you back?
If you follow those bad business ethics when outsourcing, others will know:
oDesk, for example, also has a feedback system for employers, and you’ll run out of prospective co-workers if you are treating them badly.
Be good to your VA’s: They will reward you with excellent results
You will be pleasantly surprised how far a few nice words, some praise here and there and constructive criticism will bring you and your business. A loyal and motivated virtual assistant might be the biggest asset you’ll ever have.
Bad business ethics will always come to bite you in the end.
What if your virtual assistant has been bad?
Most freelancers from overseas will do great work for you. However, there always will be a bad apple among them from time to time. Read our advice from real experiences, how to handle virtual assistants with bad business ethics.
What bad stuff can happen
I had a personal assistant from India over several years. He knew a lot of personal information about me and we worked together very closely, more like friends than having an employer-employee relationship.
That was a mistake.
After some time he knew that he could ask for whatever he wanted and I was almost forced to go along with it. Because he knew how much I needed him for personal stuff which I outsourced, he started over charging me and asking unrealistic demands.
When I met my limits, I had to fire him. And we weren’t on very good terms after that.
A virtual assistant can stop working for you without any further notice. The only notice you will receive if you hire a worker via oDesk is a note that the contractor has left your team.
Don’t be surprise if that happens. It happened for me when I outsourced a very simple picture research task for a very modest amount of money. Probably after getting hired, this female freelancer decided that the job wasn’t worth awhile and she simply cut ties with me.
That can happen and it shouldn’t surprise you. Just be prepared to repeat the interview process again.
Miss commitment- over committing and not delivering at all
I had two cases where this happened.
In the first case I was looking for a virtual assistant that could speak and write English. I found a lady from the US who applied to me and went through a very thorough interviewing process.
I was thrilled because I found someone who I could use as a personal assistant with German language knowledge at a very, very competitive price. I didn’t care at that point that she didn’t have any oDesk history.
The emails we exchanged prior to working were also very long, so I knew she was committed. When I started working with her, I suddenly never heard of her again.
No matter how much I wrote her, she wouldn’t reply.
The second case where this happened was when I worked together with a personal assistant from the Philippines. She was doing a great job for me and we had a great working experience over almost a year.
After difference of opinions – I cannot even call it a fight – she stopped responding to my emails.
That’s when I learned the hard way that you have to treat many virtual workers from the Philippines extra carefully.
Another case of very bad business ethics is when a provider outsources the work you give to him further to other freelancers who you don’t even know without telling you.
Luckily this hasn’t happen to me or I didn’t find out about it. This is a real danger and you have to make sure that your private information or sensible data cannot land in false hands.
How to prevent bad experiences with your VA
Preparation is the key to avoid having a bad experience. Before hiring a virtual assistant, do your homework. Pre-screen each candidate very thoroughly, check their previous feedback.
That would tell you a lot about their attitude towards work. Then start out by giving them a very small test task. If for any reason your worker does not follow through, you haven’t lost much time. You can use the same test task over and over again.
If you are working with a virtual assistant for some time now, challenge him from time to time. Give him a piece of work that is a little bit harder. This will teach you a lot how your virtual assistant works under pressure.
Always and regularly check his work diary. Make use of the work diary that is provided by oDesk. Also let your virtual assistant know that you are regularly checking his work diary. This will keep him on his toes and focused on his work.
Ask for daily email updates. Insist that your virtual assistant lets you know about the progress of his work daily. Even if he does not have any work from you or does not do any work insist that he writes to you that what work he has done and what work he hasn’t done and for which reasons.
This will keep you in the mind of the virtual assistant all times and hopefully prevent him to develop any bad business ethics.
If your virtual assistant starts seriously slacking of anyways, give him a warning. Sternly let your virtual assistant know how you would react if they misused your trust. Inform them clearly and un-misunderstandably how you would react and which steps you would take if this virtual assistant would continue exhibiting bad business ethics.
Use the carrot and the stick strategy. As much as you must be stern and assertive towards your virtual assistant, you must show your kind side too. If your virtual assistant does great work from time to time, give him an additional bonus for his work.
When you do this, let him know exactly why they received the bonus. Be specific about what sort of work was excellent and what sort of attitude you are looking forwarded to in the future.
How to react if your VA shows bad business ethics
Give him one final warning!
If your virtual co-worker continues to screw you over, have him stop all work. Inform him that he needs to explain himself to you. Count up all the errors you have found in his attitude and ask for a clear explanation for each and every one of them.
Let them know that this explanation may very well decide about the future of this virtual assistant.
Why shouldn’t you fire the virtual assistant right away?
He is human too and can do some mistakes and if you have invested much time into working with him, then it is worth your while to try to get back on track. If this doesn’t work out, fire him and cut your losses.
If you do fire him there are some things that you quickly must do.
- If you have shared any important files with him via Dropbox, then remove any shared files from him.
- Change any shared passwords which you may have shared with him.
- After ending the assignment of the freelancer who repeatedly showed bad business ethics towards you, take the time to write honest feedback on oDesk. Be honest and don’t exaggerate. Clearly write down what was good and what was bad and why you ended the assignment.
- And if the virtual assistant has damaged you and your business with his bad business ethics, investigate how you can get a refund or complaint against the outsourcing company over which you have hired him.