Providing Executive Support in a Virtual World

Zooming Out: Providing Executive Support in a Virtual World

How has your professional world changed since 2020? Over the last three years, working people across the globe witnessed a drastic change in how businesses operate, how teams communicate, and what working hours look like. For many assistants, a sudden need to work remotely has been followed by a more permanent paradigm shift to hybrid work environments. A large number of executive assistants are still providing critical support to their leaders remotely. The role of an administrative assistant is complex, nuanced, and difficult to manage in traditional in-person operations, so juggling this crucial profession becomes even more monumental in a hybrid environment. In this blog, we’ll focus on how to continue to provide stellar support even when you’re working remotely.

Mastering the art of virtual assisting

Many of the fundamentals of being a stellar administrative assistant are exactly the same, no matter your environment or login spot. It’s important to remember the basics: The primary role of an administrative assistant is to support their executive. Juggling that huge responsibility along with all other tasks, projects, undertakings, programs, and meetings is why the role of administrative assistant is so difficult to get right. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Here are some tips to help you continue to shine as an executive assistant even when you’re working in a new, more virtual environment:

Maintain old habits (if they were healthy ones!):

Do you and your executive have a great relationship? Do you have systems that work and keep you aligned and constantly moving forward? Great! Then keep up those old habits! If you and your leader typically do a huddle meeting every morning, set up a recurring Zoom meeting and keep doing it. Were you always aware of your executive’s daily goals, tasks, and to-dos? Great! Then you should still be aware of those. There’s no reason to let positive habits fall off when you shift to a more remote working environment.

Get on the same page

Being physically separated can serve to uncover holes in processes and pitfalls on the path to success. It can painfully highlight any issues with the assistant/executive partnership and begin to cause havoc and promote chaos. The first thing you need to do is make sure you and your leader are on the same page. Have a meeting completely dedicated to this goal. Determine how you will keep doing the things that have worked well in the past and develop new strategies that will serve to promote ongoing communication and connection. Clarify expectations. Assign responsibilities. Make sure you incorporate sufficient specificity and detail. Ensure both you and your leader understand who’s doing what and how they’re doing it.

Be more proactive

When working remotely, remember you’ll need to be more assertive and willing to take the lead on elements like communication, task assignments, and gaining an understanding of goals and objectives. If you see something that isn’t working well or balls being dropped, speak up and offer solutions for how to fix those problems. In a remote working environment, it can be easy to let things go. Don’t do that! Take the lead in ironing out kinks in new processes. Schedule a meeting with your executive if you identify issues that need to be discussed in detail. Explain the issue you’ve identified and try to offer some possible solutions. Your leader will be impressed with you taking the initiative and not allowing a new environment to negatively impact the success of your partnership.

Create systems that work

Be sure to take full advantage of any and all digital tools available to you, especially tools that allow you to see and talk to your leader. When used correctly, these tools can help you build a relationship, organize projects, monitor deadlines, and stay connected. That’s critical in this new working world. This new virtual world offers many tools that may make your work more efficient and effective. Take advantage of those tools but be sure to create systems and processes that work for both you and your leader. If you’ve found a new tool that you think will be helpful, don’t just start using it. Do you research, set it up correctly, and ensure both you and your leader are well trained on the platform. Take the lead here. Embrace this role and develop customized processes and systems that work well for you and your executive. Are you working on a big project? There are a ton of outstanding project management software programs that can help you develop time maps and responsibility sheets, track progress, and identify milestones.

Remember the power of YES!

One of the fundamentals of being a stellar assistant is understanding the power of YES. What do I mean? When your executive asks you for something, focus on finding a YES attitude. It’s easy to say no, and oftentimes because it’s so easy, it becomes a habit. But what if you challenged yourself and said, “What if I can figure out a way to make it happen?” After a while of employing this practice, your mindset will shift dramatically. Your thought patterns and overall attitude will actually change! If you embrace a YES attitude, you’ll start to see that others view you as a positive person with a powerful, can-do attitude.

Keep the connection

Even when you’re working remotely, remember you’re still humans! You still need connection and communication. Touch base with your leader regularly throughout the day, providing status updates and seeing if they need anything. Try and identify platforms that your leader feels comfortable using. Remember, this world is new to them too! They may be struggling to adapt as well. If you see that, don’t be afraid to ask what would help make them feel more comfortable. Do they prefer text messages, or do they really enjoy the face-to-face element that Zoom provides? If you can figure that out, you can utilize the tools that work well for you as a team and let go of any that simply aren’t the right fit for your partnership.

Think outside the box

Remember, your role is to help support your executive. Is there anything you can do to help them, make them look good, empower them, or free up their time? Consider trying to help them add personal touches after important meetings by sending handwritten thank you notes. Think about other ways you can support your leader like assisting with competitor research, reputation management initiatives, or business tools evaluation. The more value you can add, the better. Embrace the role of investigator, becoming eager for more knowledge, resources, and tools. Be curious and inquisitive. If you see a peer using a program, ask questions and ask to see a demo of how they use it. Consider setting aside some time every week to do a little research and elevate your knowledge level.

Share your skills

Some of us are more comfortable with technology than others. A virtual working environment is loaded with technology at every level. If you happen to possess tech-savvy skills, then be generous with them, especially with your leader. This speaks to one of the fundamentals of being a stellar assistant, which is making sure your executive always looks good. If you see them struggling with a new system or tool, jump in quickly and help. If you can provide training or troubleshooting to help your team, do it. Not everyone adapts so easily to new products and programs. Become a greater asset to your executive and organization by sharing your tech skills.

Success in the modern world

If you follow these simple tips, you’ll find you’re able to support your executive no matter where your desk sits. When approached thoughtfully, a virtual working environment can still allow for enriching and deep connections between executives and their assistants.

If you’re working toward becoming a better virtual assistant, Office Dynamics can help. We developed a huge library of resources, called the Success Store, that focuses on helping executive assistants master all the key functions required in their role, regardless of where they work. The Success Store includes an expansive library consisting of books, certification courses, eBooks, live virtual training, and on-demand training that can help assistants level up and evolve in their modern careers. But we don’t stop there.

The Office Dynamics menu of services covers every single element an administrative assistant needs to continue their journey towards becoming a true star in the industry. You’ll find a vast array of training options, both in-person and virtual, that will help you grow in your career. We’re proud to be the lions of the administrative training industry and feel our deep experience and expertise are vital pieces to our own success. We love helping assistants grow. Click here to learn more!


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