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May 16, 2018

Virtual Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely: How One Virtual Assistant Company Builds Hyper-Connected Teams

Susana Cigano

This post was written by Amber Gray. Amber is the founder and CEO of Trusty Oak, U.S.-based Virtual Assistant Services for busy entrepreneurs, authors, and creative teams.

In 2015, I had a nice, salaried job. I am a productive and focused individual so my career was moving right along. However, even after several years, I had not grown used to the 45-minute commute or how often I found myself distracted by coworkers and events at the office. With the allure of striking out on my own and the dream of working from home every day, I set out to start a U.S.-based virtual assistant company.

By getting those commuting hours back it helped with my overall productivity and reduced stress, but something else happened that I hadn’t considered: quite often I felt isolated and lonely.

A Major Challenge Entrepreneurs and Virtual Assistants Face

In the earliest days of my business, I was the CEO and the only virtual assistant. Most of my interactions were with my clients and nearly always over email. Even after our team grew, the virtual assistant model requires each independent teammate to work mostly in isolation for their clients. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or ask for help when I got stuck.

My motivation for starting this business was to increase the number of successful, happy entrepreneurs. It turns out that by founding a virtual assistant company, I’m able to achieve that goal for both our clients and for the entrepreneurial virtual assistants who serve them.

The experience we have built into Trusty Oak centers around giving virtual assistants an option to launch and grow their business without having to feel isolated or on their own.

How Loom Helps the Our Team Feel More Connected

One of our coolest discoveries made in 2017 was Loom via a couple clients. At first, I only recorded Looms as a quirky alternative instead of typing an email to my virtual assistant teammates. But our use of this Chrome extension quickly evolved into much more!

We use Loom for giving or receiving feedback on client projects, creating video content for social media, team updates, training, and we’ll be integrating Loom into our business development efforts. We’re become more creative with the tool and have found more uses over time! Here are three ways Loom helps us work more collaboratively.

Increase Team Understanding and Engagement

Our team and business are growing fast. In the past, I was constantly sending wordy emails to our team. I had a hunch that most people were not reading the full email, so I decided to make it more interesting by creating Loom videos instead.

Not only did it save me time on the updates, but it also resulted in more feedback from our team. It was a good feeling to know the information I was sharing was received, understood, and exciting enough to the team to respond positively.

Reduce Untimely Meetings Without Sacrificing Connection

One of our biggest challenges is that our virtual assistants are in various time zones across the U.S. We’re not all working at the same time of day. Using Loom videos for company announcements makes it possible for us to be more efficient with our time and make a connection using our voice and camera rather than a long email.

Drastically Improve Our New Teammate Onboarding

When we hire a new VA, it takes at least a couple of hours to show them around the various tools and share our company vision and goals. Previously, I would personally sit down with each new hire and either use Zoom for screen sharing or meet with them in person.

Some weeks we were hiring multiple virtual assistants. Which meant my schedule was packed with training sessions and fielding a ton of questions for weeks. This drained my energy, reduced my focus on bringing in new business, and degraded the quality of the onboarding experience. Since first impressions are everything, I knew I had to change our Trusty Oak, new teammate introduction!

Our revamped process includes a library of Looms to train new VAs on our tools and processes. Now each new hire gets invited to a personalized Trello board where they can work through the training on their own.

Not only does this save me hours upon hours of time, but it also ensures that each new VA is getting a thorough overview of everything they need to know to work successfully. They can see a face as well as the screen just like they would during a Zoom meeting. They can also revisit parts of the videos for reference at later times to reduce questions!

A surprising side benefit: New VAs gets to catch up on important announcements made before they started.

Watch Loom’s Team Training and Wiki Video

The Proof Is In the Pudding

When used in place of email or watered-down training sessions, Loom along with other tools we love give the Trusty Oak team a sense of connectivity. Of course, recorded videos cannot replace human conversation completely, but as a business owner, I am thrilled with the results.

It has been especially exciting since we implemented the new onboarding process to see the results. Last week, one of our newest virtual assistants sent an email I was cc’d on to a prospective client. Our newest VA wrote:

“We are so excited to have you joining the Trusty Oak family, and I’m even more excited to help you grow your business.”

I was blown away to see a brand new team member representing us as if she had been with us all along perfectly embodying our culture and values.
I believe using Loom videos in our onboarding process played a significant role in getting her up to speed. Not only on the “how-tos” of our business but on the deeper purpose we aim to fulfill.

Overall, Loom has changed the way we work and has improved the way we do business. I’m thrilled to see how we continue to evolve our uses of Loom!

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Written by
Susana Cigano
Manager, Support @ Loom

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