Interviews Q & A

1.The title of your book is “The Virtu@l Office Essentials”. What does the title mean?

The title is quite literal in the sense that the title speaks to exactly what the content of the book explores. The book encompasses all the elements needed to be successful in a virtual work environment, or in other words those items that are essential for anyone considering or currently working in a virtual office. Elements not always thought of but necessary.

2. At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.

To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t until I was much older did I view myself as a writer. Through my adolescence I would write essays and short stories for class, just like everyone else, and get an average grade. There was nothing really special about the words I wrote.

It wasn’t until later on in life that I realized what I was writing about had to be helpful and meaningful to me first. With that ideology my hope was that if it was helpful to me, then quite possibly someone else would find it useful. That’s when my passion for writing really took off. When I began my career as a Virtual Assistant (VA), I found a “point” to what I was writing. It was a way for me to share what “has worked for me” with others, in hopes that they may find it helpful.

When I was 31, I published my first book geared towards Virtual Assistants. “The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to Marketing” was a book that in plain, very easy to understand language walked a VA through the process of understanding what marketing is, and how it applied to a VA business. I don’t believe in using complicated language to make my point. I want my readers to understand and enjoy the experience, not scratch their heads in confusion at what I have written. I write simply and I believe my readers appreciate this.

I wrote “The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to Marketing” with very little expectation, only to find that it filled a void in the VA training sector. The book is currently being used by various VA training schools/college programs as a training tool for new VAs and I couldn’t be happier about this.

“The Virtu@l Office Essential” was created with the same thought process, however its idea was “sparked” due to the feedback of my students and what I was seeing in the VA training industry. There seemed to be a real need for a book that didn’t “sugar coat” the virtual work environment, but lays it out as it is. It’s not easy, and we often get blindsided by the “honeymoon” stage of no commutes, no uncomfortable work clothes, and often are not prepared with the challenges of working virtually. A book that considered not only the external elements (the equipment, office set up, etc.) but the internal elements (stress management, staying productive, isolation, etc.) would be a book that would be meaningful to me and helpful to my students. I realized as I began the outline for this book that it was not only relevant for VA’s but anyone who worked or contemplated working virtually.

3. Where is “The Virtu@l Office Essentials” available?

The book is currently available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

4. So let’s help some struggling women business owners get started here. What is the first thing you need to do to grow your virtual business?

First and foremost you must love what it is you are doing. If you are not enjoying the work you are doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it. A virtual business presents an opportunity for you to truly live a life you want to live personally and professionally.

If you are dreading waking up every morning and turning on that computer, then you’ve changed nothing by having your virtual business. If we love what we are doing we excel at it. We become more productive, motivated and attractive to clients. This is essential for any virtual business.

Secondly, believe in what you are doing. Believe in the value you bring to your service or the product you are offering. If you don’t believe in your own value, you cannot expect others to.

Thirdly, be realistic about what working virtually really means. This is when having the virtual office mindset can be key to your success and sanity in a virtual office. The virtual office mindset is not just about the tools you use, but how to remain productive, what keeps you motivated, strategies when feeling isolated, etc. These are just some of the items that are often overlooked in the “honeymoon” stage of beginning your virtual workspace.

5. Describe your writing in three words.

Easy, Direct, Truthful.

6. What Makes Your Book Unique?

This book is for anyone who is considering or who is currently working in a non-traditional workplace. Someone who relies on technology and their own self-discipline to stay focused, motivated and productive at work. Someone who is responsible for their own techniques and strategies, to ensure they are successful in a virtual work environment.

“The Virtual Office Essentials” is not only “how to work in a virtual office” but serves as a self-exploration tool. It’s one thing to say to someone “you need to be productive in a virtual environment to be successful”, and it’s another thing to say “okay let’s look at the areas that may inhibit your productivity BEFORE they do”. This is how this book is written.

“The Virtu@l Office Essentials” provides helpful information and assessments that will help the reader hone in on the areas that may trip them up. Making them AWARE of the pitfalls before falling into them, and having strategies in place to ensure they can combat them when those pitfalls arise.

This book is an all-encompassing guide to working in a virtual environment. It is not an endorsement for working virtually, yet covers some real benefits. It’s meant as a reality check, it dives into all of the areas that are often overlooked and become the biggest hurdles.

It’s not just about how to set up your virtual work space; it combines these external elements (technology, tools, office set up) with the ever so important internal elements (remain productive, work/life balance, stress management). Combining these elements creates the virtual office mindset and it’s this mindset that will determine one’s success in a virtual environment.

7. What are the three major message points in the book?

The virtual office is on the increase and becoming a popular workplace alternative, yet it isn’t just about the technology you use or the location of your office that will determine your success in a virtual environment; it’s the mindset you have.

AWARENESS. It’s important to be aware of the areas within the virtual environment that will present a challenge before it does. Being aware will provide you with the opportunity to find solid solutions before your challenges become unmanageable and out of control.

Be Realistic. We often get caught up in the “honeymoon” phase of working virtually. Although there are some fantastic benefits to working in a virtual environment, one needs to be realistic about the challenges as well. It’s not all “flowers and sunshine” and if you approach the virtual environment with this mindset your dream will surely turn into a nightmare when reality sets in.

8. Did you learn anything from writing your book and, if so, what was it?

I learned a ton from writing this book. I learned how naively I approached my own virtual environment 12 years ago. I learned how important awareness is whenever we approach a new way of working. I learned that there are still some things that trip me up, but because I am aware, it’s much easier to manage. I learned that I could have used this book 12 years ago.

9. Why would an employer want their employee to have a Virtual Office?

A happy worker is a good worker. By allowing your employees to work from home, even if it’s part time, it will improve their productivity.

Save time. The average commute is about 35 minutes. An employee could have already begun working during this time, as opposed to sitting on the highway and increasing your company’s billable hours.

Employee retention. If an employee is interested in working from a virtual office, why not allow them to as an added perk? This will ensure that your employee isn’t looking for a job elsewhere that does offer this perk.

Cost savings. It may not save a company millions by allowing one employee to work from home, but there are some savings. Energy costs and office supplies can save you a little money. If you decide to take your business totally virtual and have all your employees work from home – now think of that cost savings.

Employees work better when they are more productive. Your employee knows when they are the most productive, so allow them the flexibility to make those “grown up” choices.

Business security. By having some or all of your employees work virtually you are ensuring the longevity of your business. If a major power failure occurs in your building, or something else major, such as a natural disaster, your business is still working strong, because your employees are elsewhere.

Environmentally Friendly. By allowing your employee(s) to work from home, you are being kind to the environment. It’s one less vehicle with gas emissions polluting the environment.