Working as a virtual assistant has many pros. You can easily come with up a lot of benefits that come with working online as a virtual assistant, but you will also see some contradicting arguments against working online. From personal experience, here are thecore problems I frequently come across in my VA career:
Internet outage is the most typical problem when it comes to working online. There may be various reasons for a bad connection. For instance, bad weather or a technical problem could be the culprit. But this problem is something you cannot overlook.
Personally, I have this issue figured out to 90%. Aside from my regular net connection, I also own a prepaid USB internet stick that I use in case my regular net connection goes out of service.
This post has been written by my main virtual assistant from Pakistan. He has a great attitude towards work and attacks work-related challenges in a very self-reliant and self-motivated way.
To show you what’s possible with a good virtual assistant even if there are problems, I asked him to write this blog post.
Here is a short comparison between my regular and backup internet connection:
Cost in USD
USB Wifi Stick
Although I have a backup internet connection, it’s possible for both of my connections to go out of service at the same time.
Also, my backup connection needs to be recharged before use. Sometimes it cannot be recharged immediately (for example, I cannot recharge it late at night because recharge outlets get closed before). However, you can also recharge it through internet banking.
Power Shutdowns And Outages:
Power outages are also a major issue. Over the past few years, this has become even worse. Especially in the summer season, the demand of electricity increases immensely, when the temperature reaches 40°C. I also experience lots of power and with it internet outages, but the good thing is that I have almost completely over-come the problem.
- I have a laptop which supplies me with a power backup for up to 3 hours
- I have a power inverter supported with a battery, which also provides a power backup for up to 3 hours.
Sometimes, due to heavy thunderstorms and rainfall, a power outage can prolong things for up to several hours, but that is very occasional.
An Exceptional Case Study
As you can see from what you read so far, I pretty much keep myself protected from major work interruptions. Over the past week, however, I have faced many exceptional, extra-ordinary circumstances, which immensely affected my virtual assistant routine and life.
My employer (Francis) wants to share my whole experience with you, the readers, in details. Here I go…
On Saturday, August 23rd, 2014, all of the sudden, my laptop encountered an exceptional problem. The problem was due to some hardware component and I was not even able to boot it properly. This was quite alarming and I took it to the repair shop without any second thought.
My laptop vendor told me after a thorough diagnosis that my laptop’s motherboard was dead and needed to be replaced with a new one that can only be ordered via its company and it would take at least 4-5 days to get replaced.
I had no other choice than to trust him and I decided to go out to an internet café in order to complete my work schedule.
It was my first experience going out to an internet café and before that I have never ever worked from there, so this was a little challenging. First, I went to an internet café which was arounda 10 minute walk from my place.
That place was congested and tacky.
- There were small cubicles for each system,
- The overall ambiance was very poor,
- It was very warm and humid
- The chairs were very uncomfortable
- And I also had to wait around 45 minutes in order to get my turn.
Later, when I found a free workstation, there were more problems…
- The PC was too slow and old.
- The internet connection was very slow.
- I had to download many software programs and files from the Dropbox before starting out, which required more than 4 hours (Note that I only downloaded important files from my Dropbox, which is merely 1% of my overall Dropbox size).
Very soon, I realized that this was not going to work and that I should move to a better place. So, I wisely decided to leave that place and go to a better place which was 30-minutes away from there.
This place was situated in a large shopping market in my city and was a very nice place.
- They have touch screen all-in-one computers,
- it was air-conditioned,
- and the place was clean and clear.
So, all in all, it was little expensive, but a nice place to work. I downloaded all my important programs and Dropbox files here and have started to work on them.
Although, the place was very nice and had good ambiance, I still found the following hurdles in order to work smoothly:
- I also had to wait around 30-minutes in order get a free workstation.
- Food was not allowed there; however, I was able to bring a bottle of water and a soft drink with me.
- In case I had to go out for lunch or food, I had to keep my workstation reserved. In other words, I have to pay for it even if I was not working. Otherwise, I had to go to another workstation and re-install and re-download all files.
- Although the overall atmosphere was good, but still I was not feeling like home and was not comfortable working there for a long period of time.
Here is a short cost-comparison about how much additional money I spent while I worked from an internet-café:
- Café-Charges: $1/hour ($12 billed for 2 days work)
- Food Cost: $4/meal (Total $8 for two meals)
- Transportation Charges ($6)
- Total Cost: $26 in 2 days
So that was the most exceptional case study of my life as a Virtual Assistant where I had to go out to an internet café in order to complete my working hours.
Even if you get trained yourself for every consequence, it is nonetheless possible that you come across something that is completely inescapable.
Although it was a tough experience for me, I still learned a lot from it. Most importantly, I am able to lay all my experiences down on paper. I hope you liked my post. If so, feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment below!
Not all virtual assistants will be this proactive and problem solver about internet problems. In fact, the way my main virtual assistant handled this issue was extremely good.
Check out the post from another virtual assistant from the Philippines having the similar kind of problem, but a different approach.