It’s pretty likely a large portion of your working day involves reviewing incoming messages, replying to calendar requests and ensuring your top-priority emails get answered promptly. Whilst all of our virtual PAs are expertly trained, we understand that handing over your inbox is no easy decision, especially if you’re asking someone to deal with highly confidential information or liaise with important clients. So how far could you delegate and how do you do it?

The whole way

If you’ve built a long term working relationship with your assistant, you may want to give them direct access to your inbox and outbox, so they can work through calendar invitations, billing or financial admin, or other routine requests. To go this far you’d need to trust that person’s judgment about your work and priorities, and know that their way of communicating is at least as good as your own. Most importantly, you need to rely on their absolute discretion.

Sharing your password can be risky, however much you trust your assistant so we suggest sharing access through the delegation services offered by Gmail or Outlook. These both allow someone else to access your email using their own password and allows you to revoke access at any time. Outlook even gives you the option customize your delegation setup to limit which items your personal assistant can view.

Halfway share

This could be a better option if you prefer to maintain a certain amount of professional distance, particularly if you’d rather your assistant didn’t come across personal emails from friends or family. Equally, if you share your assistant with a team, you might want to consider whether delegation is appropriate and perhaps put further limitations in place.

For the half way share you could decide to set up two inboxes, providing your assistant with access to the primary one and creating a separate email address that you share with people who need to be able to communicate with you on a confidential basis. Alternatively, by just sharing your inbox rather than asking your assistant to reply to messages, you can still hugely benefit from the time saved by having your emails regularly organised and your priorities anticipated (something an automated system can’t yet do). Your assistant can forward you the most urgent emails as a reminder to reply and delete the unnecessary ones.

Drip feed

If you’re concerned about providing an assistant with direct access to your email, you can forward correspondence to them with brief instructions on what you’d like to be done, e.g. following up, declining, filing or reminding. Your personal assistant would then reply on your behalf, rather than as you. If you have a new assistant, or are trying to delegate email for the first time, it’s always useful to write a few sample replies that your PA can use as a template for their own messages. This ensures replies are up to the standard you expect.

Letting go of your inbox can and should feel like a huge weight off your shoulders, giving you more time to deal with the important stuff. Still not convinced? Ask your AVirtual PA for more options or suggest an email sharing trial run.

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