The advent of remote work has brought about the concept of the virtual assistant: a person who carries out assistant’s work for you from a remote location. And while there are many things a virtual assistant can help you with, they are, after all, a virtual employee. This means they can’t assist you with in-person tasks like filing physical paperwork, organising your stock, or fetching coffee for those you are meeting with.
Before you start working with a virtual assistant, it’s important that you are realistic about your expectations. For example, hiring a virtual assistant will most definitely make your life easier, but they won’t be the silver bullet for all your problems. Another expectation people often have is that hiring a virtual assistant will be costly when this is not the case.
Here is what you can expect and what the reality of working with a virtual assistant is really like.
What is a virtual assistant?
Think of your virtual assistant as a professional who works from a remote location to offer you reliable, results-driven services over the internet. They can provide you with a desired outcome without being physically present in your office.
A virtual can assist you with everything from business admin and bookkeeping to booking your flights and accommodation for your next holiday. Any task that a personal or in-house assistant could handle is something a virtual assistant can tackle.
Expectation #1: My virtual assistant will be able to help me with everything
As mentioned above, a virtual assistant can help you with just about any task, which can take a lot of pressure off you. They can’t, however, do anything that would require someone to be physically present. When it comes to your business, a virtual assistant can do administrative work including managing your diary, answering phone calls, data entry, organising your to-do list and calendar, and book travel arrangements. They can even manage your social media platforms, carry out effective online customer service, and manage your inbox.
What they can’t do is things like photographing stock, running your reception area, or personally delivering a gift to a colleague on your behalf.
Before you hire a virtual assistant, make sure that the things you’ll need them to cover can be done virtually.
Expectation #2: I’ll need to keep my virtual assistant busy
You may think that to make your investment in hiring a virtual assistant worthwhile means you need to keep them busy, but this is not the case. When you work with virtual assistant agencies like AVirtual, for example, you pay an hourly rate. This means that you only pay for the work that your assistant does, and nothing more.
This makes hiring a virtual assistant a budget-friendly option versus hiring an in-house assistant who you will need to pay a full salary to and cover benefits for. An in-office assistant may sit doing nothing for many hours when you don’t need their help, and you’ll still be paying them. Whereas, with most virtual assistant agencies, you’ll only pay for the hours the assistant spends working for you.
Expectation #3: They won’t need training
Virtual assistants often come with in-depth training and experience in a variety of fields, which could make them the perfect fit for your business. However, you can expect that the first few days (and even weeks) will require some onboarding and training to get your new virtual employee up to speed.
Every change needs time. After hiring a virtual assistant, be prepared for some initial training, and explaining your processes, procedures, and software used in your business. Collaborate with your virtual assistant, set up a plan of achievable and realistic milestones and meet regularly to discuss the progress of their onboarding.
Expectation #4: It’ll be difficult to manage a virtual employee
Many people think that remote work or working from home will require micromanagement to ensure the person is being productive and handling the tasks you’ve set them. The reality is that virtual assistants usually work through reliable and trustworthy agencies where they’ll be required to track the time they spend on each of the tasks they do for you and will be paid accordingly.
Usually, virtual assistants are well-versed in working remotely and therefore know how to manage their time effectively to get everything done and provide high quality, efficient services to you and your company. You won’t need to constantly check up on your remote assistant to make sure they’re doing their work.
In our modern world, technology also makes it possible for you to have regular meetings with your virtual assistant to discuss the work that they’re doing and any updates or issues that may arise.
It’s quite possible that hiring a virtual assistant could be the best solution to getting your business and personal tasks done without you having to worry about them. Hiring a remote employee could end up saving you money, time, and unnecessary hassle. But it’s essential that you are clear about what you expect from your remote employee and be realistic about what they can and can’t do for you.