Opinions about ethics in outsourcing
by Virtual Assistant
I think Stefan is right and every employer thinks in the same way and expects a bit more from his employees (as every employee expects a bit more from his employer, it’s a human nature).
Being specific about Stefan’s cleaning lady case as I already said with due respect that in my opinion she was lying that she came at work, knocked the door and nobody responded and she went back.
Well, Stefan is not the only one who has faced this problem, even I who is living in Asia often face this kind of problem. As in Asia (particularly in South Asia), there is no concept of hourly jobs, hourly means you will get paid on how much you work, but if I told my maid that you’ll get paid on how much you will work, I think she would never agree upon this agreement and I will have to clean my home myself.
So we have to set a monthly fee with her and as she knows that in either way, she will get paid at the end of the month, she often didn’t come to work and upon asking, pleads her lame excuses. I know that these excuses are fake, but I can’t help it and I have to live with it because I can’t see myself cleaning my room every day.
On the other hand, If an employer expects his assistant to go out of the way, an assistant also expects the same from his employer. Money is not always everything. Of course everyone wants to get paid well, but there are many other things that you should keep into consideration when handling your virtual assistants.
Here I want to quote my personal experience: Some days ago, I wanted to replace my laptop and I decided to get an additional short-term contract on a higher price and I was fortunate enough that I found what I wanted.
My client was very aggressive, he always wanted me to get on Skype and I had to be there. So he wanted me to update him each and everything I worked on the same time and when I am not on Skype, I often get this sentence in my mailbox, “hey, where are you? I can’t see you working”
In the meanwhile I got sick and I didn’t work for him for 2 days, although I told him that I am sick and I can’t concentrate on work and therefore I will be off.
When after 3 days (followed by a Sunday), I came back to work and he asked me where I was and so many other questions that what happened to you, I told him I had fever, he said that what type of fever, I told him the type of the fever, then he asked ok this is not very serious, you can take this or that medicine and he also sent me some links that shows that the type of fever I was suffering is not so dangerous for health and curable.
Although I was already recovered, I don’t know he meant it or not, but what I assumed from his gesture that he wanted to convey me that my illness was not enough serious to get absent for three days.
Later, I handled the matter by working extra hours for him. Of course he was happy with my work and wanted to expand the cooperation which I refused.
So the crux of the story it that if you don’t care your employees, you don’t treat them well and don’t allow them to work freely and independently, no wonder how well you are paying to them, they will leave.
This is very similar to great organizations and companies, they all have a fair recruitment and retention policy for their employees, they offer them bonuses, holidays, medical and so many other fringe benefits to their employees so that they keep working for them.
I hope you understand what I mean. If not, I will love hear a counter argument from you.
Comments for What an Employer Expects from His Employees and Vice Versa
(May 02, 2013)
To be honest, I cannot say that I agree completely with everything that is written here. The lower wage @$2/hr that may typically be quoted for outsourcing to Asian countries is over-rated.
Believe it or not, there are constellations where such a pay is indeed ethical or at least in my opinion.
In some countries, college students that would like to gain a few additional dollars would be excited about earning $2/hour. It will literally be a multiple of what they would be able to earn elsewhere.
Also, working online is often by far not as difficult as labor work, for example. Of course, if you live in a western country like Europe or the US, $2 an hour will and should feel weird.
But there are very different place on this planet… Different cultures and different economies. Of course, paying someone $2 an hour in a 3rd world country will not change the economy of that country for the better.
However, consider this situation:
- Someone in the US, who is not a high earner, puts aside a $100 a month and pays someone to work for him.
This might be a win-win situation for both of them.
The person from the US with a low capital would not have enough money to hire a professional assistant from the US. The college student from a third world country can find a comfortable way to gain additional money to support his family and his studies.
As he supports his studies, he will have greater chance to be successful when he gets out there and gets a real job. In my opinion a situation like that would be a win-win-win.
Therefore I feel it’s too easy to just say:
“OMG! $2 an hour. How bad is it that?!”
I’d love to hear your opinion and have a lively discussion.
Comments for Outsourcing for $2 an hour is morally wrong!
(Jan 25, 2013)
There was a little episode where my Assistant and I had a little misunderstanding. One of the tasks I asked for my virtual assistant was – to be totally – honest, really boring, repetitive and not exciting at all.
Still, I wanted to have it done. And it was actually the perfect task to outsource. I should have transferred the tasks to an expert of data entry work long time ago.
Unfortunately, my virtual assistant did not voice his lesser interest on these tasks early enough in a way that I would notice it. If I would have thought more about it in advance, I should have noticed it. But people are human. My mistake.
The feedback that made me apologize to my virtual assistant
After my assistant had been doing this tedious and boring work for some weeks, I was finally coming to my senses and proposed to my assistant, if it would be good if we hired someone else¬ for this task to free up my assistant to do more difficult and important tasks. Just be sure I asked him if he was okay with me “taking away work” from him so to speak.
He very clearly said to me that the work to that specific task was not interesting at all. I took this quite seriously and immediately apologized to him.
When your Virtual Assistant apologizes for you saying sorry and why I think this is a healthy basis for a working relationship
One day later, sure enough, my assistant immediately clarified this and let me know the he only said the work was boring because I asked him to. He still was up to it and would have continued to do it.
Does these all sound too apologetic and emotional to you?
I can relate to that, me talking about how I apologize and get apologizes back. Probably not the most exciting stuff to listen to but there is an important lesson to take away from this:
Try at all times to keep your virtual assistant as happy as you can.
Especially if you find an “ideal helper”. If you have found a match that does great work, is intelligent and caring and also attentive to detail then you might have found a diamond in the rough.
Such a virtual assistant is pretty rare to find. Sure there are many freelancers out there. But high quality ones that are affordable too are either difficult to find or take a long time to train this way.
That’s why it makes sense to treat them very well.
Good work ethics should be natural anyways
For me treating a work associate in this manner comes natural.
Although as a German I have a relatively direct communication style, I try to take it down a notch when discussing things with my virtual assistant.
Even more so if my virtual assistant is from Asia.
Comments for Try to Keep Your Virtual Assistant Happy All the Time and He Will Return the Favor
(November 19, 2012)
Recently, my virtual assistant needed a week of time out due to personal reasons. This is something every employer must be able to understand.
Your virtual assistant is not a machine. He has family, friends and important events in his life that will take priority over your online tasks from time to time.
Of course, some of my projects still are of very high importance. So, I found this compromise with my virtual assistant: he is able to log a few hours every week to take care of the most pressing matters. One of them is to coordinate work with my virtual transcriptionist on my team. Another one is for him to manage my online researcher, who’s also on my team. And to train a new member of my team who’s a little bit hard to teach.
What I did to take care of this matter quickly is I prioritized my work. By the way, I used a normal email this time.
Normally, I communicate with my virtual assistant using screen recordings and audio recordings. This saves me time writing. Since this time my virtual assistant is the one with less time than me, I turned it around and took the time to write a carefully crafted report via email.
Remember, the one person with fewer time gets the VIP treatment.
What are the tasks that I find most important?
First, as I said, to manage my other team members. It’s very important to stay in contact with your team members if you have hired more than one virtual or personal assistant. If you stop communicating with your team, this will hurt you in the end.
Since I’ve managed to work out some trust with the team members that are longer on my team, I don’t worry too much about this. Still, my VA has to follow up at least every other day with everyone in my team.
The second priority is to take care of my email marketing efforts.
The third priority is for him to help me with monetizing my other website.
What about all other tasks?
Seriously, they can wait for a week!
An online business is something you should do for fun and for profit if you’re successful. But it should never weigh down your personal life or the personal life of your virtual assistant for that matter.
So, it will be a break for everyone and all the ideas I will be coming up. In the meantime, I will be able to safely store them into our shared Dropbox for when my virtual assistant come back. Then, he’ll easily be able to pick up where we left off and work out the back log of projects.
Comments for Prioritizing Your Outsourcing Tasks for When You’re Virtual Assistant Has to Take Some Time Out
(October 31, 2012)
I came along this interesting question shortly and independent of whether your virtual worker comes from oDesk, Elance or any other outsourcing platform, you should be, of course, extremely careful with your credit card details.
Although it is true that big outsourcing heroes, like Tim Ferriss or others, have outsourced parts of their life to their virtual assistants which require access to their credit cards; this not for beginners and even those people who only talk about relatively little amounts of money below $100.
The problem is not so much that the worker comes from oDesk. The problem is that sharing your credit card details is a huge trust question.
Imagine if your virtual assistant would do credit card fraud, trick you out of thousands of dollars and then vanish.
How big do you think your chances are to catch him again if he lives on the other part of the planet?
It’s not only a problem of distance but also a problem of different justice systems. In the end, you will lose more money by trying to make things right than the whole incident might have cost you.
Anyway, there’s a place and time where you may trust a virtual assistant with your credit card details. I can imagine the following scenarios;
- You use a prepaid credit card system. This means that you only have a limited amount of money on that credit card and if it is depleted, it cannot go in to the red.
- The maximal amount of money that your virtual assistant might theoretically be able to steal from you, would need to be very much lower than what he will earn when working for you regularly and normally. You shouldn’t put such a big incentive and allurement to steal from you. It would be human nature to become weak at that moment.
- Only trust even limited budgets to virtual assistants you have worked with for an extensive time.
- One case where it can be reasonable for your virtual assistant to have access to your funding is; for example, when you hire a virtual assistant on oDesk, work with him for a long time and then give him the ability to act as your Hiring Manager.
There, you have two different sets of security. In one of them, your VA is able to open jobs, invite people to your jobs and manage people for you. But only you can hire, fire and give bonuses to those people.
In the second level of trust, your VA is able to do all of that for you; in this case, he does have access to your credit card funding. Not to the credit card number directly, but to the money on that credit card.
In this case, a high level of trust is absolutely needed. And even then, I highly recommend that you choose solution of a prepaid credit card. This way, even if things should go very very wrong; you cannot use over a certain amount of money. And of course, even if something should go wrong, you can contact your bank account and reverse the process of the money movement.
The good thing is oDesk sends you a notification each time you or your Hiring Manager gives out a bonus.
To sum up, if you wanted an answer to the question if you should trust oDesk workers with your credit card details; if you would trust them by giving them a bunch of money and handling them on their own in your interest, then you can go ahead and do it. Else, don’t.
Comments for Should You Trust oDesk Workers with Your Credit Card Details?
(October 19, 2012)
Yesterday I got a good opportunity, thanks to a friend of mine, to apply for a simple data entry job here in Munich to make some money with relatively easy work.
I thought it would be fun to make a study out of it and to compare how it actually is typing data in Excel all day long.
I assume that for people in India, for example, who do data entry jobs as a full-time job; this can really be tiring and annoying at times.
By the way, this part time job would have paid me 10 Euros per hour. Many students apply for jobs like this. The pay is decent but not extremely high. How does this compare to the pay of an average $1 per hour for data entry jobs in countries like India?
If you think that there was a missed opportunity to find a real cash making machine, I’ve already thought of that. Just as a joke, of course.
Just imagine if you would have a work at home data entry job which would pay as much as I just described. Couldn’t you just outsource it to a data entry person for $1-2 an hour and keep the difference? Well, theoretically, you could.
Here’s why this wasn’t possible:
- First of all, it wasn’t a work at home job. I would have to go there and physically work there in a computer room.
- Confidentiality of the data. I cannot just take the data of someone else and share it with an outsourcer overseas. That would be huge breach of trust and could get me into serious trouble.
- Language Barrier. Of course, this work is in German and to get an outsource assistant who speaks and writes German perfectly, you’ll have to invest a little bit more than $1 an hour. Actually, this is one of the challenges I personally have faced from time to time when I thought of outsourced projects in my native tongue and couldn’t find an affordable virtual assistant with great German skills.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t even taken for the job.
Perhaps I should have posted how hard it is to get a side job when you really want one. 😉
But perhaps that’s for another time.