7 Tools My Team and I Use to Communicate and Collaborate

Frequent, effective communication with your virtual assistant isn’t just a good idea, nor is it merely important—it’s essential to your success and theirs.

Remember, when you bring a VA onboard, they will know little, if anything, about your business. While your VA will certainly have skills and experience in the duties for which you have hired them, there will no doubt be a learning curve. This is where training and communication play such an integral role.

You should contact your VA daily, and when you do so, there are three questions I recommend asking: What did you do (today or yesterday)? What problems did you run into? What can I help you with? This daily communication holds your VA accountable and helps put your mind at ease so that you’re not worried about what they’re doing.

Communicate and collaborate with your Filipino virtual assistant

With all these tools, it’s like my VA works in the desk beside me!

What types of tools can you use to communicate with your VA? Let’s discuss a few of the most useful.


Simple, effective, fast, thorough—those are words that describe the benefits of using email to communicate with your Filipino VA. Of course, it’s also free, which is always a good thing.

I email my VAs every day, and I teach others to do the same. Emailing allows you to put some time into your thoughts and to perhaps express your feelings and concerns more thoroughly than you could through other communication means.

Using email gives your VA the opportunity to sort out his or thoughts before responding. With email, the VA is much less likely to be caught off guard, and their answers are likely to be so much more insightful because they’ve have the opportunity to read and re-read your message and digest its meaning.

Phone call


Two more hours til Sir calls, I hope he wakes up and calls before I start needing another coffee. :(

That’s right—sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call is what it takes to initiate that needed communication. The downside to calling your VA on the phone is that it in the Philippines it costs 14 cents to take a call from the U.S., so please, be mindful of that fact. You may also use Skype to call your VA on their cell phone.

Please recognize that there is a significant time difference between the U.S. and the Philippines. Be considerate of this difference. Manila, Philippines, for example, is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone in the U.S. So if it’s noon in New York, it’s 1 in the morning the next day in the Philippines. If you need to speak with someone on the phone, plan on calling them during working hours in the Philippines, meaning late at night or early in the morning in the U.S.

Also, ask for your VA’s phone number the day your hire him or her. This will ensure you’ll be able to contact the person in the event of an emergency at any time.

Phone calls might be the best communication method if you need to convey information or ask an urgent question that requires immediate attention. In other words, if you have to communicate something to your VA that can’t wait even several minutes to an hour by an email response, a phone call could be your best bet.


Use this familiar tool often to speak with your VA or to send an instant message. Most of the people you’ll work with will be well versed in Skype.

Google Hangouts

Google-Hangouts-1Another way to communicate with your Filipino VA is by using Google Hangouts. Developed in 2005, Google Hangouts is an instant messaging service that enables you to chat with your VA either by speaking or by writing. Google Hangouts will display all of your contacts and show whether they are online of offline. Unlike email, and similar to Skype, Google Hangouts and other tools like it allow your contacts to give an instant response to your messages.

Google Docs

If you’re working with a writer or doing a lot of stuff on excel, use Google docs instead. You can both edit in real time, and you can highlight areas and leave comments so your VA knows exactly what you’re talking about and what changes they need to do.


Online project management systems are a convenient and easy way to not only track the progress of various assignments you have given team members (including deadlines, milestones, updates, budgeting and other key factors in a project), but they can help you stay in regular contact with your VA. These systems allow you to send messages to one or more people simultaneously. You can even attach files, such as documents or videos, in the messages. When your Filipino VA logs on to his or her project management account, there will be notifications when messages are awaiting.

The project management system I tell people to use is Basecamp. I and all my Filipino workers love it, and so will you. It’s simple, effective, and it will meet all of your communication needs.


jingJing will make your life easier and will enhance the way you communicate with your Filipino VA. This is a screen capture and screen recording software. Plus, it’s free! Jing is fast, easy and multi-purpose. It’s perfect for explaining to your VA exactly what you need them to do with a project or assignment. You can provide them with screenshots to give them examples of how to improve, enhance or change part of their work. Jing can easily be used in conjunction with any of these other media to get the most out of your communication to your Filipino VAs.

I’m hardly the one out there using Jing to connect with people. Author Rachel Rofe creates training videos and instruction guides for her customers and colleagues. As she points out, you don’t even have to be tech savvy to make good use of Jing.

Whatever tools— or combination of tools—you decide to use to communicate with your VA, be sure you use them daily. Each has its place in your day-to-day interactions with your Filipino workers. Communication is vital for understanding, building trust and for your VA to successfully progress and complete the work you give them. Effective communication will minimize confusion and frustration and will ultimately lead a fulfilling business relationship between you and your virtual assistant.

John JonasAbout John Jonas
John helps business owners learn to outsourcing to the Philippines and replace themselves with virtual assistants.
He founded and owns OnlineJobs.ph.

He currently employs 14 amazing Filipino workers full-time and loves every one of them. He lives in Utah, has a wonderful wife, 4 amazing kids, and golfs 4-5 times/week.

Find John at JonasBlog.com and Facebook.

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