Career Shift: From Office-Based Employee to Full Time Virtual Assistant Freelancer

Work is necessary, especially when you are the breadwinner in your family. You treat your job as the only source of income that even the slightest mistake can jeopardize your employment. Even conflicts with your co-employees, especially your supervisors pose a threat. I have worked in both office-based setup and as a virtual assistant and have dozens of reasons why I chose to work as a full-time virtual assistant freelancer. But here are my top 4 reasons why I decided home-based over office-based employment.Traffic in the city – Reporting to workOffice-BasedOn a daily basis, I have to allow 5 hours for commuting due to traffic. If my work scheduled is at 8 am, I need to start commuting by 6 am. Waking up in the morning feels frustrating. It’s like dragging yourself to prepare for work. And when you are all set and ready to go, you see a lot of people like you waiting for a ride. It feels like you’re into an action movie when rushing to ride a jeepney because everyone is in a hurry. But when I get a spot, I usually sleep while commuting (Hello! It’s Davao City) so I get to rest for a bit.Virtual AssistantThere is no need for me to wake up too early for the job. There’s no need for me to allow 2 hours for commuting. My office is literally at home. I just have to take a shower, eat something, and poof! – I can start my work already. No hassle, no frustrations, and no rushing!


Toxic Environment – Social EngagementOffice-BasedYou just came in the office from heavy traffic. You are still dripping with sweat and all of a sudden, one of your co-employees is sharing GOSSIPS! To be honest, I am fond of socializing with people, and I enjoy the company of others. In fact, I maintain a regular meeting with my supervisors and talk about parties, team building, summer vacations, etc. What’s frustrating is when you encounter gossips, rumors about somebody inside the company. The environment becomes toxic that keeps me from efficiently working. As leading personnel in the office, you also have to mediate even petty quarrels of employees.Virtual AssistantIt does not bother me really, and I get to read news and updates from the internet. There’s nobody that will keep you engaged about something you are not interested. If I don’t find an article interesting, I just close it and that’s it!Compensation and ResponsibilitiesOffice-basedEarning a lot would mean more workload. If you have been receiving more and had better salary package, then you might be the same as ME – with added workload and responsibilities outside of my job description. Working as operations manager mean you work with your supervisors, check reports, update clients and conduct regular/emergency meetings – not ME. I also have to upgrade, and correct parameters fit for the campaign. I also need to do lead management, to ensure better customer engagement and more opportunity to convert. In some occasions, I have to tap audit department to make sure every sale is listed. There will be lesser time to manage and oversee my personnel, leading to possible quality of work issues.Virtual AssistantMost likely, compensation depends on the impact on what you do and job description, then the number of things you’re doing. It gives you time to focus on what you are expected to do – and improve. There are a lot of tutorials, articles, and guides on the internet for a virtual assistant to succeed. The Internet is a teacher, learn from it.Family/Work BalanceOffice-basedEverybody will have two days off weekly to relax and get away from work, and I don’t. Even during days off, my boss calls me asking for updates and how sales are going (which everything sent in email). Sometimes, I to pretend to be asleep in order to avoid calls about work. It’s frustrating, really. You are working five days a week, rendering overtime, hitting deadlines, and can’t even get days off from work. I can’t also spend quality time with my son and wife.


Virtual AssistantIt’s refreshing how I work at home. I get to see my son and wife bond. Sometimes, they get to me to hug and cuddle. I can use my breaks with my family together. We can take a vacation together without any phone calls. As long as I have my laptop, a reliable internet connection, and a cup of coffee, everything is perfect! Nothing compares to the time I spent with my family while working. It gives you the determination to work, an inspiration to keep going and happy.Well, of course, we have different opinions in an office-based and full-time virtual assistant working at home. There might be more than I can add here, but so far, these are my top reasons why I quit my job, packed my stuff in the office and work at home.TIP: Before making significant decisions in life, make sure to reassess and gauge what will be best for you. I have been thinking over and over in this decision, and I don’t have any regrets.

How To Analyze Your Team’s Expectations And Outcomes

In general, the purpose behind analyzing whether team expectations are being met is to promote, enhance or improve something within the team itself to help overcome or prevent specific problems, weaknesses or hindrances.

When analyzing expectations, it becomes important to focus on three types of project-related outcomes: team knowledge, team processes, and the deliverable. Team knowledge includes understanding team terminology, concepts, and relationships among team actions and results.

Team processes are the steps utilized to create a desired deliverable or end product and include: professional attitudes, self-awareness to know when project steps are executed, and self-control during transitions between project-related steps. The deliverable or end product is what is created as a result of team project activity-such as a plan, method, system, document, or process to meet specified needs.

When it comes to predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations, there are specific skills that should be applied, which tend to cut across all team-related roles. There are four basic questions individual members need to ask themselves before determining if team expectations are being met:

  1. Am I learning what I need to know?
  2. Am I applying what I have learned?
  3. Am I a good role model and expert?
  4. Am I able to teach others to know and apply important team functions, best practices and group dynamic applications?

There are a multitude of reasons why teams may wish to evaluate their performance, including:

  1. Identify accomplishments.
  2. Evaluate if leadership is shared and effective.
  3. Identify team strengths.
  4. Identify points of team weakness.
  5. Analyze team strengths and weaknesses
  6. Identify group dissatisfaction.
  7. Identify low morale.
  8. Identify confusion of team purpose.
  9. Identify drop in participation.
  10. Avoid team stagnation and demise.

Predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations and their combined effectiveness can be accomplished through a number of assessment and evaluation resources, including:

  • A complete index or listing of definitions that detail outcomes, which multiple audiences can refer to such as organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors
  • The drafting of performance criteria for examining team-related outcomes
  • The application of performance review tools for providing timely feedback and for planning developmental actions intended to improve team performance
  • Providing oral presentations and reports to organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors

There are very specific success factors that a team must analyze to determine if it is able to obtain, or is obtaining the results it wants:

The Team’s Ability to Organize

Analyze the team to see if it is:

  • Establishing a system to communicate standards of excellence
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities
  • Aligning people and resources to present information where all audiences can understand key points and issues

The Team’s Ability to Prioritize

Make sure the team is:

  • Researching information
  • Focusing on issues that are most critical to the success of the project
  • Taking into account the feasibility and the relationship to the goal, blocking time to evaluate
  • Categorizing issues and reprioritizing if necessary
  • Identifying the steps to be taken
  • Identifying the necessary issues to be addressed and placing them into an appropriate order

The Team’s Ability to Analyze

Ensure the team is diagnosing and clarifying issues/data by:

  • Gathering the most relevant information
  • Recognizing broader implications of issues/data
  • Drawing logical inferences
  • Examining interrelationships between all alternatives
  • Making decisions that have the greatest positive impact on team outcomes and its deliverable

The Team’s Ability to Manage Time

Check if the team is using time effectively for tasks that are to be completed, including:

  • Establishing priorities
  • Preparing project timelines
  • Monitoring and managing resources
  • Allocating time for the team to work
  • Reviewing updates
  • Thinking about its next action steps

The Team’s Ability to Question

Is the team effectively using questions, which consists of:

  • Formulating open-ended questions that increase awareness of situations
  • Requesting clear, concise information that achieves desired results
  • Providing opportunities to analyze data that results in finding root causes
  • Creating a nonjudgmental, open and creative environment

The Team’s Ability to Facilitate

Make sure the team works collaboratively to help define its overall goals and specific objectives by:

  • Utilizing effective group dynamic skills (questioning, clarifying, paraphrasing, summarizing, consensus)
  • Applying problem solving skills (assess needs, set expectations)
  • Identifying skills and a timeline
  • Analyzing data to help team members create plans that assist them to accomplish and meet desired results and time frames

The Team’s Ability to Present

Check if team members prepare clear, concise, well-organized deliveries of information by utilizing effective oral communication skills such as:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Varying voice volume, pitch and pace
  • Displaying high levels of energy and enthusiasm
  • Applying effective eye contact and body language
  • Engaging the team audience
  • Emphasizing key points

The Team’s Ability to Verbally Communicate

Analyze by incorporating the above skills, to see if the team is able to clearly and accurately explain and articulate its:

  • Mission/vision
  • Ideas
  • Procedures
  • Policies

The Team’s Ability to Make Sound Decisions

Is the team:

  • Using the scientific method to recognize and define a problem
  • Facilitating effective ways to access and collect relevant information
  • Reviewing and evaluating alternative solutions or actions
  • Selecting the best choices and following through with the implementation of decisions

The Team’s Ability to Problem Solve

Ensure the team is creating effective and appropriate solutions by:

  • Employing analysis skills to synthesize and apply relevant information/data
  • Breaking down and clarifying the problem
  • Defining the desired outcome(s)
  • Investigating options and alternatives
  • Selecting the solution that will have the greatest positive impact in the present and for the future

The Team’s Ability to Generate a More Functional Environment

Check if the team is:

  • Selecting and developing members based on individual and group skills
  • Identifying and leveraging personality types to complement their strengths
  • Managing conflict
  • Creating team roles and expectations resulting in group capacity to facilitate win-win situations within the team setting

The Team’s Ability to Implement and Measure

Is the team executing and overseeing its action plan through:

  • The preparation and alignment of expectations and resources
  • The assessing of results against outcomes
  • Removing barriers
  • Identifying strategies for continuous progress
  • Communicating results to stakeholders

The Team’s Ability to Manage Conflict

Ensure that team members use effective techniques and practices to respond to conflict through:

  • Skill and sensitivity that results in presenting one’s position in adverse circumstances
  • Seeking to understand those with whom one disagrees to win acceptance
  • Shaping opinions
  • Earning respect
  • Identifying areas of common concern

The Team’s Ability to Research

Check if the team is:

  • Effectively accessing information from various sources
  • Analyzing and testing effective solutions that result in better performances, which are based on scientific study, case studies and best practices
  • Developing a network of experts both inside as well as outside of the organization
  • Reviewing necessary and applicable journals, books and trends
  • Utilizing experiential data and best practices
  • Conducting external and internal informational scans

The Team’s Ability to Strategically Plan

Make sure the team is developing strategies to achieve higher levels of performance and project outcomes by:

  • Prioritizing critical goals
  • Identifying and prioritizing success factors
  • Translating broad strategies into clear objectives
  • Allocating resources
  • Anticipating risks
  • Identifying constraints
  • Understanding issues that impact team performance

The Team’s Ability to Make Continuous Improvements

Check if the team is continually making improvements in processes and areas of performance by:

  • Scanning the team environment continually to determine what can be done better
  • Creating a team environment where risk taking is accepted and rewarded
  • Establishing a process where information and lessons learned can be shared
  • Tracking the progress of key steps and milestones within the project and innovative ideas that can be readily shared

The Team’s Ability to Provide Positive, Constructive Feedback

Ensure the team is providing and using positive and constructive feedback to:

  • Instill a sense of confidence in others
  • Model behaviors for replication
  • Help others attain higher levels of performance
  • Set up action plans for improvement
  • Aid in initiating a team environment of trust and accomplishment

The Team’s Ability to Collaborate

Is the team seeking the involvement of others by including them in:

  • All decision making processes
  • Establishing and building the team’s shared vision and goals
  • Identifying ways to foster good give-and-take relationships, discouraging “us vs. them” thinking
  • Building a team environment where the contributions of all members are valued

The Team’s Ability to Plan

Ensure the team is developing plans and processes by:

  • Translating strategy into specific goals and objectives to support the team’s vision
  • Identifying team capacities
  • Establishing clear, realistic timelines
  • Identifying specific action steps and accountabilities
  • Identifying, testing and confirming assumptions in the team’s strategic plans

The Team’s Ability to Manage the Project

Make sure the team is effectively monitoring its ongoing progress by:

  • Tracking progress through clearly set goals and timelines
  • Developing specific objectives, milestones, and outcome guidelines
  • Identifying resources and budget
  • Establishing specific responsibilities for collecting and/or tracking
  • Presenting critical variables related to the project
  • Effectively communicating evaluation standards, timelines, expectations, and individual follow-up procedures
  • Scheduling meetings for follow-up and review

The Team’s Ability to Delegate

Check if the team trusts others to take responsibility that is meaningful, important and interesting by:

  • Providing necessary individuals with sufficient authority and resources to accomplish assignments
  • Treating team and work failures as learning opportunities
  • Personally evaluating themselves on the willingness and ability to delegate
  • Identifying barriers that may likely hinder the ability to successfully complete the delegated task or project
  • Creating comfort levels for others

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

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