Internet connectivity problems, power outages, other incidents – my full time VA from the Philippines, Jomvie, has his share of troubles.
It’s important as an employer to be understanding when there is nothing you can do.
But it’s equally important to be creative and resourceful to find solutions when the situation is not unavoidable.
For a Virtual Employee – Inform your Employer of any Problems
Your Employer is planning on your work output. He has his projects in mind and hopes most of all on things going smoothly. Even though you might be troubled with a situation, it’s still important to squeeze in some time to let your boss know. Else, he is likely to make some wrong assumptions.
Here is what Jomvie wrote to me yesterday:
I wasn’t able to finish my shift yesterday due to a combined inevitable event yesterday. There was a very heavy storm that brought heavy rain and flooding and a power shortage. So, I can’t really go out to finish my shift.
Hoping for your kind consideration.
Best and Thanks,
For an employer – think of alternative tasks that can be done offline and of backup plans
Jomvie and I have discussed backup solutions for internet outages many times. From going to an internet coffee to considerations of a secondary internet connection. We also discussed issues of general power outages in the past.
Both are problems that come up regularly in the Philippines.
In my experience, only a minority of virtual assistants from this country try to use this as an excuse. But it’s hard to prove it either way because the productivity of an offline virtual assistant is hard to track. Although there are (paid) solutions for that.
Finding a solution together – for both employers and VAs
I believe you will profit from this discussion, if you are a VA or plan to hire one. Even if you (a VA) come from another country, you can still learn from this.
Different levels of calamity / problems
To you as a VA:
Dependent on how big the problem, you need to react differently.
- Really dangerous crisis:
A taifun is flooding the streets. Houses are broken. There are causalities. What to do? Save yourself! Nothing more important than that. (I tell this because there is a story of a filipino VA who was sitting on the roof of his flooded house, writing to his employer from his laptop which he saved first, that he couldn’t take care of his shift today. That might be a bit extreme)
- Unable to work, unable go out:
Heavy storms and rain make it dangerous or really difficult to go out. Your stuff or your house risks to be damaged. Getting a Taxi would be a big challenge. What to do? Stay put! Make sure your infrastructure is OK, and take care of important phone calls. When you just sit there and there is nothing you can do, work offline and take note of what you do. Log that time as offline time with a short explanation in your daily update later. (I touch on the importance of daily updates here.)
- A plain internet deconnection, no other problem:
Try to get back the internet connection. If that’s impossible, assess how much longer you would need to work today. If it makes sense, go to a backup place or solution for getting internet. Let your employer know (for example via mobile phone).
In all of these cases, when the problem is over, be sure to reach your employer. He might already be worrying about you.
Let’s open the discussion!
There are many other aspects to this situation, but I want to open the discussion to Jomvie and all you readers. Feel free to jump in with your own opinions any time in the comments!
Comments for Finding a Solution for Internet Interruptions of my Filipino Virtual Assistant
|Dec 01, 2014||One of the many responsibilities: Let your Boss know
For the past few weeks, I have been experiencing some difficulties with my internet and this was brought about by the incoming storm.Yes, my internet will always be disrupted whenever there’s a storm coming (actually, I want to change my internet provider, but I have to consider and weigh my options first esp. my work).And so this storm brought heavy rain and flooded the streets of the city on a Friday afternoon.
Since one of the options whenever an internet disconnection would come up is to go to an internet cafe or coffee shop that offers free wifi as long as you’ll buy a coffee from them
Going out is not going to be a good option.
Heavy rain will always cause a jam packed street and traffic that will last for hours and that will just put my time and effort to waste and most esp. my stingy budget 😀
So, to those who are working as a VA/online workers, you have to make sure that you will be able to let your bosses know what was happening, so that he/she will be able to consider the things you are going through and will give you other options on how to cope with your lost hours.
|Dec 07, 2014||Stay put and safe
You are describing what i mentioned in the post as level 2 situation. Not life threatening but still very bad to go out.That is why i want you to stay put. Think of which steps are to take to organize yourself in this situation. Are there repairs to do? Do you need to stay in contact our help out a loved one who is in a more dire situation?
Do that first.
If and only if you are sitting around, your computer is still working and you have the right mind to do so – find tasks to do offline.
I sent you a podcast to edit and clean up long time ago in the low priority folder in your Dropbox. Check this out and measure the time needed for editing the audio.
Read the training ebooks for selling and writing.
Rework offline the article about the work ethics if your Dropbox synchronized my video about it from last week.
Continue with the video project offline or create an outline for a new video for me to record audio for.
There are many tasks you could be doing offline. Just track the time manually for now.
I hope the best for you, please stay in touch.
It’s a common thing for most of the Filipino VAs not to mention any issues we have that would affect our work. I’d list down most of the common reasons.
1. Most of the Filipinos think that the employer would just fire them and look for someone else that has no issues, sure there is a leeway as to how many instance you’ll have issues before a boss fires you but we are freelancers and we could lose our job anytime. It’s all dependent on how the employer takes it.
2. We have issues yes, but as long as we can work around it we will. Resiliency is what Filipinos have which can also be highlighted in the wrong way.
3. Still relevant to topic number 1, most of the Filipinos think that reporting an issue would offend an employer. Again, dependent on the employer but most of the employers don’t even have an idea what issues we are talking about (typhoons, earthquakes, power outages, slow internet connection) as they don’t experience it on their side and might think that we are just making up excuses not to go to work.
I could still go on but these are the most common issues why most of the VAs here in the Philippines are too afraid to share their hardships. Still, communication with the employer is key to a long-lasting work relationship.
Really interesting takes, Emmanuel!
As an employer, I have also seen this behaviour of hiding problems quite often. But any employer who is not a total noobie who hires from the Philippines should know there are infrastructure challenges that the VA cannot change anything about.
I think both the VAs should be a bit more confident and upfront, as well as the employers a bit more informed on these issues. Hopefully the stories on my site, along with your feedback, will help with that a bit!