Building trust with Viva’s remote EA Actuate’s approach
Are you ready to hire a remote executive assistant but building trust is a concern? Some of our customers, like Notion and Apollo.io, are SOC Type II certified and have highly sensitive information. Despite that, they have trusted us and our team to work with them. Take a closer look at Actuate’s successful approach.
The key to building trust with a remote EA
As a remote executive assistant subscription service, we have worked with all kinds of startups, from Series A to Series D, and through the years we’ve seen it all: on one hand, startups that don’t have established processes, and on the other, highly-organized companies that follow strict security protocols and expect the same standards from their partners.
Actuate, a company that has safety as its main concern, needs its external contractors to be completely reliable. This is how Fabiana, a remote executive assistant from Viva, became an operations analyst and a trusted partner for the executive leadership team.
Table of contents
- What is Actuate?
- How can you build trust from the beginning?
- Can you trust your remote executive assistant with access to staff information?
- Ensure professional ethics before granting access to client data
- Why should you trust your executive assistant with financial information?
- Why are we so sure you can trust our EAs?
What is Actuate?
Sonny Tai, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Actuate’s co-founder has always had one great vision: to make the world a safe place for everyone. This motivated him to create Actuate, a company that turns any security camera into a smart camera equipped with artificial intelligence to identify loitering, intruders, crowds, and even detect firearms.
What makes Actuate’s product stand out in the security industry is that it requires no installation, they’re 100% cloud-based. The only thing customers need to do is give Actuate access to their CCTV cameras, and Actuate takes care of the rest: onboarding the cameras and making sure it’s always up and running.
This New York-based company has reached Series A and $13 million+ in funding. Each of their 25 employees shares a common mission: to make Americans feel at ease in locations that were once safe places, such as hospitals, schools, and other public spaces.
How to build trust from the beginning?
Building trust with remote team members is always challenging, especially if remote employees have access to privileged information about the executive leadership team, internal staff, or even customer data. But how can you move past that roadblock?
Get to know your EA
Distance shouldn’t be a barrier for you to get to know your team members. Stay close to them, especially at the beginning, either by setting up a group donut or establishing a cadence for 1:1 check-ins. Depending on how fast you want to get to know your EA, we recommend daily 10-minute touchpoints for the first to two weekly touchpoints in the first month: one at the beginning and one at the end of the week. That way, you can learn about their work and communication style, and start building a good rapport with your EA, a very important direct rapport.
Don’t be blinded by misconceptions
A lot of the executives we onboard express their concern over information breaches because, oftentimes, there are misconceptions about how an EA operates. One question we’ve heard time and time again is: Do I need to share my email password with my EA? Our answer is simple: No. All you have to do is delegate access to your email without giving too much information by using Gmail’s delegation function.
Go one step at a time
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing sensitive information from the start, gradually build that confidence. In Actuate’s case, Fabiana earned the trust of one of her executives by proving how smart, capable, and proactive she is, but it was a process that took some time.
The amount of time varies greatly depending on how comfortable the executive feels sharing information. It can be as quick as a couple of weeks or take as long as a few months. The sooner you share access, the faster you receive value from your EA.
Can you trust your remote executive assistant with access to staff information?
If you’ve never had an EA before, you probably know how their job description sounds on a high level. But once an EA is working with you, it’s important for you to remember: the more buy-in EAs get from their executives, the more their position expands within the company. They are not just admins or generalists, an EA is an extension of you. They amplify the impact you have and help you accomplish at least 20% more because they will take on a big part of your projects, so It’s not just that you can trust your EA with staff information. You should. This is one of the best ways to leverage them, especially if you’re a Series A startup. This is how Actuate did it.
Proactively improve the onboarding process
All Viva EAs have a figure-it-out ability that sets them apart, and their proactivity is one of the biggest assets they bring to the table. Fabiana is a clear example of this. When she joined the company, she soon realized there was no onboarding process in place. Onboarding new hires was a task lacking one consistent owner, so she decided to make it her own.
She brought it up with one of her executives and from that moment on, she was the person in charge of the entire onboarding process: from the pre-boarding of new hires to sending welcome emails, taking care of contracts, shipping electronic devices, and more.
Understand the impact of an EA on employee retention
Employee turnover is a major concern for startups and having a great onboarding process can make a huge difference. When new hires get the right guidance, support, and a good introduction to company culture, they’re more likely to feel excited, motivated, and committed to the company.
That’s why when you’re a Series A startup, you may not have an entire Talent team devoted to creating a flawless onboarding process. Luckily, an outstanding EA like Fabiana can create an onboarding protocol from beginning to end that doesn’t only improve your new hires’ experience but also takes this responsibility off your shoulders.
“Fabi has been transformational to our operations. She has delivered an immense amount of value by taking complex, time-consuming, yet necessary tasks off our plates, and allowed Brian and I to focus on work that moves revenue.”
Sonny Tai, CEO @ Actuate
Ensure professional ethics before granting access to client data
Measuring language proficiency is easy, but determining someone’s integrity is much more difficult. If you’re thinking about asking your executive assistant to help out with client-related processes like managing invoices or accessing a database, make sure they understand the importance of confidentiality and will not disclose any client-related information under any circumstances.
Delegating high-impact projects to your EA
After Fabiana had successfully taken care of email and calendar management for her executives and had put the onboarding process into place, the leadership team at Actuate saw another way in which he could leverage her capabilities: fully delegating the billing process to her.
Fabiana took full ownership of the assignment given to her and is now the go-to person for generating invoices, managing account payables, handling account receivables, conducting data analysis, and following up with clients. She has even optimized the process by bringing new tools to the table like Tableau.
The impact of effective delegation
Brian Leary, VP of Product at Actuate and one of Fabiana’s executives, was managing the entire billing process by himself before she came along. As a result, he didn’t have as much time as he would have liked to focus on his main priority: developing the product. Thanks to Fabiana, he’s getting seven hours back every week so that he can reallocate that time to more impactful areas.
Why should you trust your executive assistant with financial information?
Executives in early-stage startups tend to end up wearing many hats. EAs wear many hats, too, especially when their executives allow them to grow and take over more and more tasks.
Your EA can become your financial assistant
Fabiana plays a crucial role in Actuate’s financial matters. Her analytical skills come into play as she meticulously analyzes data and extracts valuable insights to help the leadership team get a clearer view of their company’s growth. She was instrumental in creating a comprehensive product growth report where she compiled and organized all the revenue and product data of Actuate from the last 2-3 years and created visuals for the executives to see and be able to track growth, create projections, keep track of ARR, MRR, and each customer’s ACV and ramping time.
The impact of an EA on North Star alignment
Fabiana’s background in business, accompanied by a deep understanding of her executive’s goals, metrics, and OKRs, was all the context she needed to give the team a clear vision of the company’s North Star.
She took a step back, saw the bigger picture, and put the growth tracker together: a comprehensive and visually appealing report that allows the entire team to have a clear overview of both company and product growth throughout the year, so they’re all aligned and looking in the same direction.
Why are we so sure you can trust our EAs?
Fabiana is not an exception; all the executive assistants at Viva are the most reliable business partners you can find. We don’t just hope you take our word, our EAs undergo extensive training on the importance of confidentiality, security, and open communication.
Use this checklist as the internal security barometer your contractors need to meet:
- Background checks
- Previous employment experience working with sensitive data
- Drills to test their figure-it-out ability
- Mandatory VPN usage
- Bi-weekly virus scan
- Two-step verification for sensitive information
- Password manager for all websites
- Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
And if you’re thinking about getting a remote executive assistant but building trust is still an issue, take a look at what other startups like yours are saying about our EAs.