How To Communicate With Filipino VAs

In business, knowing how to best communicate with people will make or break a relationship. This is true when working with Filipinos. I’ve learned a few ways to help you and your Online Filipino Specialist stay on the same page and develop a trusting, successful partnership.

Filipinos need communication
1 Filipinos need communication
Frequent, regular contact is important for your OFS, and it’s not just because they’re working remotely on the other side of the world.

By nature, Filipinos love to please and get your approval. By communicating with them often, you can give them that reassurance. It validates the work that they’ve been doing. Through your training, teaching and constructive feedback, you let your OFS know how they can improve and what they’re doing well. Your OFS will appreciate this and thrive off of it.

A simple “thank you” is always appreciated. This will validate their work and motivate them. It will help them feel valued and important.

If you fail to communicate with your OFS, their work will slow down and their performance will suffer. Why? Because if you don’t bother to talk to your OFS or send emails. It sends a message that you simply don’t care about what they’re doing. Lack of communication tells your OFS that they’re not important. Their desire to fulfill assignments will diminish, and eventually, you’ll lose them.

Don’t be that boss that forgets about employees. Make communication a top priority. Let me outline some of the ways you can do this.

Daily email
2 Daily email
We’ve covered this in other sections, but it is so important we just had to add it again here. That’s because the daily email is the very best way to maintain good communication with your OFS.

Make the daily email a requirement for your OFS. It’s a non-negotiable task they should perform every single work day.

It’s your OFS’s chance to ask questions and to share frustrations, confusion and achievements. You can then respond to the email and address anything they brought up in the email.

Not only does it make your OFS accountable, it keeps you informed on what they’re up to. It provides the contact your OFS needs and wants. Anything can be expressed in the daily email.

Other emails
Other emails
Feel free to send additional emails to your OFS as needed, and invite them to do the same. Email is probably the fastest and easiest way to communicate back and forth. Respond to their emails as soon as you can. Don’t let them sit in your inbox and ignore them. This will destroy trust. You expect your OFS to answer your emails, so do the same for them.

Use a project management system
Project Management
You might already be using a project management system to help keep track of your OFS’s assignments, deadlines, milestones and other project essentials. A project management system can also be a great communication tool, since most of them come built in with messaging features.

There are a number of project management systems out there, but I like Basecamp. It’s simple and thorough, and it works well with my Filipino OFSs. It’s easy to send messages through Basecamp and give your OFS directions and feedback. In turn, they can respond with questions and answers.

Chat and Video Call
Video Call
Video calls can be a wonderful way for you and your OFS to get to know each other. It gives both of you a chance to see each other. It helps your OFS realize you’re not some faceless figure from far away. From there, you slowly develop some sense of comfort and trust.

If both you and your OFS prefer chat over video calls, Skype is still a great choice. You can also use Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, or even Whatsapp.

Pick up the phone

If you prefer, you can also call your OFS. This would be useful if you have urgent, time-sensitive information.

There are a few things to keep in mind when calling the Philippines. First is that your OFS is many hours ahead of you. If you’re in Los Angeles, for example, and your worker is in Manila, there’s a 15-hour time difference. That’s significant. Be aware of that when calling so that you’re not trying to reach them in the middle of their night.

Second, calling the Philippines is expensive. It’s best to call using Skype. Otherwise, the call could cost between $0.02 to $1 per minute, depending on your provider.

Ask them if it costs them money to receive a phone call. Depending on the provider, your OFS may also be charged about $0.14 for receiving your call. Some phone companies offer it for free. So make sure you check that out.

Even if you and your OFS don’t plan on chatting much on the phone, it’s good to have their number in case you need to reach them in an emergency.

Nothing beats Jing

If you’re not familiar with Snagit, got to get to know this screen capture and screen recording application. It’ll be the most valuable tool in working with your OFS. I use it all of the time, and I absolutely love it. It makes giving feedback and instruction so easy. Oh, and it’s free!

I use Snagit to record audio and video and to send screenshots. Taking screenshots and recordings is so much easier than thinking out how to write it in an email. With a video, I can just show my OFS exactly what they need to do.

Ask a lot of questions
When it comes to communicating with your OFS, the more you ask the better. The more you ask, the more you know. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to manage them and ask the right kind of questions in the future. Here are a few I like to ask:

  1. Do you know how to do this? Your OFS might know what it is you want them to do, but do they know how to accomplish that task according to your standards? Asking them this simple question helps you know what training and guidance they need.
  2. Do you enjoy your job? This is a straightforward question, but it’s one you should often ask, especially if you see productivity or quality slipping. Your OFS’s answer may determine what type of work you give them and what adjustments you need to make. It also gives your OFS a chance to tell you what more you can do for them.
  3. What do you think about this strategy? This is a question you might consider asking more experienced OFSs. When you ask questions like this, your OFS will feel more part of the decision-making process. Be prepared to listen to their answers. And if they have good ideas, consider implementing them. You are the expert of your business, but you may be surprised with the insights your OFS can provide.

Don’t forget the feedback

Every time I ask my VA’s what I do well, they always say that I give great feedback.  They love that I use Snagit and send them video feedback and video instructions. The problem is I don’t give enough feedback.

Over the years I’ve realized how important feedback is to the Filipino culture. They want to know what they’re doing right. They want to be better at their jobs.

When they’ve done a good job, let them know about it. Go heavy on the compliments. Filipinos need praise. They need to feel like they’re doing things well.

Don’t be afraid to give negative feedback, but always start with the positive. Even if your OFS did something poorly, find something to compliment them on before pointing out what they did wrong.

Giving positive AND negative feedback has at least three benefits:
• It builds trust
• It builds a loyal, long-term, hard-working employee
• It builds your relationship

And when something goes wrong, take the blame first. Remember that you’re the one giving the directions. Instead of berating your OFS, say something like, “I know I probably didn’t explain this very well” or “We have a problem, and I know I probably messed up.” It shows that you want to work with them in improving the situation.

Conclusion: Effective communication goes a long way

You didn’t hire a perfect person. You didn’t hire a robot or a mind reader. You hired an online Filipino specialist. You can’t expect your OFS to be successful without communicating with them.

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

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 and Facebook.

If you liked this you’ll probably also like reading
How To Overcome The 9 Biggest Challenges With Filipino VA’s
Four Pillars of Managing Filipino Virtual Assistants


  1. Anthony says

    One thing I would add is that most Filipinos are very social and family oriented. Unlike the typical McMansion in America with large amounts of personal space for a huge desktop PC, in the Philippines people tend to rely on mobile devices for communication since it is more flexible that a PC. A messaging app like Whatsapp may work well or if you want them to to have a real USA phone number/SMS one option is a magicApp. I use it now in Asia and it works great.

  2. matt says

    Hello. I am currently a customer. I need answers to the following to make me feel comfortable hiring a filipino employee. I want to hire a salesperson. They will be making outbound calls to USA.

    1) VOIP- Which provider do you recommend? This is what I need in a VOIP provider
    A) I need VOIP reporting to track calls they have made
    B) I need them to have a voicemail box
    C) I need them to have a USA phone number
    D) Cost effective- I would prefer unlimited calls and not have to pay per minute

    2) CRM
    A) I need to have a relatively robust and relatively inexpensive CRM to track sales prospecting.
    B) CRM that has email templates and auto responders
    C) CRM that has both user and administrative access.
    D) Hopefully the CRM will allow me to email directly through it.

    3) Internet Connection
    A) What is minimum bandwidth freelancer needs to have 100% clear voip calls to usa?
    B) What type of internet connection do you recommend to be installed in frelancers home?
    C) What are the names of the reliable ISP’s you can recommend?

    4) Work Environment
    Do you think it is possible that my filipino salesperson can have 100% clear voip sales calls to usa AND a quiet and productive work environment by working from their home?
    Or do I need to get them office spae?
    What are the different names and URL’s of office space providers in philippines?
    Which one do you recommend that has good internet/facilities along with good value?

    • says

      Hi Matt!

      Based on your requirements and specification, I think the best option would be to hire a call center. They would have most of your requirements built in the service.
      There’s no such thing as 100% clear calls from the Philippines to the USA, especially for individual freelancers. And the set up process is especially difficult if you (and the VA) would be doing it yourselves.

    • says

      Hi Silvio,

      Thank you for your email. If you click the ‘Mark as Hired’ button on a worker’s OnlineJobs profile, you are able to monitor your worker’s progress. Your worker needs to download the TimeProof app so that you can monitor them

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