When I was first creating my website Tips for Assistants, I initially vetoed the idea of having a blog. I only wanted to have a list of top websites and apps because of how essential they are for assistants to succeed at their jobs. My design changed, however, keeping lists of websites and apps is something that will always remain on my site because it is crucial for assistants to keep up with new technology.
Staying up-to-date with new technology is imperative for assistants if they want to excel in their role. As Arthur C. Clarke stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” Technology is always evolving and assistants can use these advances to their advantage. There have been several tools that have been complete game changers in my functionality as an assistant and I have heard many others discuss similar experiences. Here are some key reasons why it is essential for assistants to keep up with new technology.
Being as efficient as possible is a daily goal of any top assistant. If we have the most optimal tools available to do our jobs, chances are our output will be optimal as well. In one of my jobs my employer allowed me to choose my laptop, the cloud storage program all our documents were stored on, and I had input on the other programs we used together. He understood that as a main user, these would help me to be as efficient as possible.
In addition, technology is streamlining what would otherwise be tedious and manual processes. One example is the way assistants book travel. Imagine researching flights without using a travel search engine and manually going to each airline’s website. It can be done, but there is a possibility of accidentally missing airlines, user error from manually entering information over and over, and prices changing if the search takes too long. Now there are websites such as TRAVO that store booking information, travel preferences and can help to optimize end-to-end bookings for assistants. Because of technology like that, the entire process is a snap!
Many offices and households are starting to shift to a paperless mindset. A lot of documents are being stored in the cloud, which makes organization less time-consuming. There are no folder labels to apply, no documents to print out and no file cabinets to organize; physical labor has been cut out of the equation. To help with retrieving documents quickly, you can even add keywords to pdf files. That certainly beats manually flipping through folders if a document accidentally gets placed out of order!
No matter how detail-oriented you are, mistakes can happen. However, technology can help to avoid errors. There are numerous tools available to double check your work to confirm accuracy.
For example, as assistants, we are often responsible for verifying addresses and mapping out directions for the people we support. Google Maps allows us to not only look up addresses, but to get other information such as street views, future traffic calculations, and contact information. Having all of this information allows assistants to make sure their principal arrives at the correct destination on time.
The more technology you are aware of and know how to use, the more resourceful you can be. Apps, websites and other forms of technology are different tools in your toolbox that can allow you to overcome any challenge that comes your way. The more tools you add, the more resourceful you become, especially as you become better at using those tools.
The usual forms of communication have become more varied. Some of the newer options available allow for better correspondence. For example, getting to inbox zero is an ongoing battle for many of us, especially for the people we support. Instead of companies relying on email as a main form of communication, using a chat app or task management tool can help to minimize email clutter. Not only is it great as an assistant to know wonderful alternatives to suggest should you notice the need, but it is often expected to know how to use such programs in many companies these days.
When you are assisting another person, they often rely on you to troubleshoot their devices, apps and other programs. I have had to troubleshoot simple situations as well as more complicated ones in every single role. Although I have often had access to IT assistance, it is a lot more efficient to learn how to troubleshoot tech issues yourself. When you learn how to fix these issues on your own, you save immense amounts of time (and often money). There’s no calling, scheduling and waiting around for another person to solve the issue; you are able to cut out all of those time wasters. If a professional is needed, document the steps so you know how to handle the situation if it ever pops up again in the future.
When it comes to technology if you aren’t keeping up, you are behind. It all starts with being open to new technologies; no employer wants someone who has the mindset of being stuck in their old ways. From there, take the initiative to discover and learn the tools that can give you a leg up. Don’t expect anyone else to take charge of your education for you. There are many free online courses available that can teach you a wide variety of tools (you may check out my list here). Once you’ve acquired the knowledge you need to utilize the new piece of technology, don’t be afraid to adjust the way in which you approach your work. It is all part of adapting to the future and investing in your career progression.
About the Author
Christina Holzhauser is the founder of Tips for
Assistants, an online resource designed to give advice and resources to assistants and administrative professionals to help them perform at the highest level. She has more than a decade of experience in a wide array of assistant roles. You can connect with Tips for Assistants on the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.