Working Together. But Apart.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of a Digital Assistant and the value they bring to a business... I think our term "Digital Assistant" isn’t clearly understood yet in the marketplace. Mind you, given that we coined the term, that’s hardly surprising! No one knew what a "Google" was at one point in time either, right?
A Digital Assistant is an Executive Assistant who takes awesome to a new level.
It takes a lot of insane curiosity, logic, and incredible confidence to be a great Executive Assistant and the best ones possess innate abilities to think on their feet and work with limited direction. A great assistant readily and energetically accepts and enjoys challenges, takes pride in delivering work to an extremely high standard, is genuine, warm, personable and has enough experience to take anything in stride.
A Digital Assistant takes being an Executive Assistant to an awesome new level. He or she has a completely separate specific skill set that enables them to 'colour outside the lines' of a purely administrative role. They deftly combine a personal passion with what they do well - bringing order to chaos.
A Digital Assistant brings amazing skills to the table – something they’re not only enthusiastic about but that's relevant to the varied work we do for clients. It’s a rare breed that can book complex global travel and design a strategic action plan for a start-up in the same brain space.
Marrying Passion with Skill
My own personal passion is design (web & graphic) and I think it's really cool that I get to work in a role where I get to do what I love. Being creative but able to handle complex administration makes both the left and right sides of my brain equally happy.
In my former corporate life, I was a board level EA in a large financial institution where there was limited opportunity to do anything creative. I cultivated and nurtured my design skills on my own time and every now and again could incorporate them into my daily work. I became known as 'the PowerPoint nerd'. I kind of liked being able to do things my peers couldn't - like design a new firm-wide document template. Smug, I know.
Clients appreciate and value what I can do for them as a result of a combination of my excellent admin skills and my personal specialties. I’m not just someone’s spare set of hands, booking dinners and doing outsourced data entry, I’m allowed to think, be creative and apply my passions to find creative ways to help clients.
If I'm your Assistant, you instantly have a design specialist in your back pocket. Pretty cool, huh?
Recruiting the Best
When Scriba was a start-up, based on an entirely new concept and way of remote working, I learned that the people we hire set us apart. The Scriba team are amazing administrators with something extra - creative sparks and specialist skills. They’re super smart, totally hilarious and they work really hard. My team has the self-discipline it takes to work remotely and I admire their dedication to their clients and Scriba.
The work we do isn’t easy but I love it as I have a team that I trust and admire, each with a different skill set, to lean on and learn from.
Hiring such high-calibre assistants is difficult because we require specific and demonstrable skills and experience. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.
When we do find the right person - that’s where the fun begins! It’s easy to overlook the "X-Factor" when hiring via traditional recruitment channels. We find that personal networks and social media have, so far, helped us find the best candidates.
And the Art of Keeping Them
Managing a remote team can be a challenge. It requires daily individual communication and as a group. I may not actually have a door - but we do have an open door policy. My team knows that I am just a call or click away at any time.
We use a lot of cool technology to align communication. I host an ongoing 'watercooler' group chat on Skype that is a 24/7 forum for support, checking in, exchanging ideas, asking for input and finding creative solutions. There's also a '999' stream that any team member can use when they're snowed and need spare hands. We also communicate via Basecamp, Slack and Trello when doing project work.
Being so 'in touch' enables me to get to know my colleagues, what they like, what switches them off, what they’re into and what they’re really great at. Because I know them so well, I’m able to support their passions and give them room to run while doing what they love.
We firmly believe in the concept of collaborative working and pooling our specialist skills to help every Scriba client. Above, I said if you work with me you have a design specialist in your back pocket, right? You actually have lawyers, data analysts, start-up specialists, project managers, marketing communications and PR specialists on tap as well. You're going to need a bigger pocket.
As we work in collaboration on many projects, it’s a rare day when I don’t speak to everyone in the team several times. Our growing team communicates more with each other than many siloed departments within a traditional office. Collaboration allows us to handle varied projects easily and consistently deliver excellence to our clients.
We're not 100% remote, 100% of the time. We bring the team together, in person, regularly. We use these social events to step away from work and let our hair down. We also use it as a great chance to check out venues and restaurants in London to recommend to clients. Win / Win!
Speaking of Fun...
Nerdy, I know, but other than my teammates’ shining morning faces, looking at the 27” Retina 5K iMac on my desk gives me a nerd-thrill each and every day. Technology and gadgets are major obsessions for our team, so that’s why we provide such great hardware, knowing they love using it. We constantly share new tech discoveries; like a new app that does something remarkable that we’ve not seen before or a new website or product that could help us with the work we do for clients. This kind of open forum ensures we have our collective ear to the ground when it comes to innovation.
I gotta wear shades
The future of Scriba looks very bright. I’m on a quest to build a truly knowledgeable and well-rounded team, so my constant challenge is to analyse our business needs and those of our clients to recruit multi-faceted and widely talented Digital Assistants.
I’m focused on encouraging and developing our team’s skills and passions while adding new team members that we can all learn from. I’m eager and excited to grow our client portfolio alongside a company ready to meet their needs. My other quest is to master the ukulele. That particular challenge isn't going so well.