Free up your time and accomplish more with a virtual assistant

The term ‘virtual assistant’ didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Virtual assistants (VAs) have worked their way into the business world since the arrival of computers, email and online information sharing. With the increase in number of remote workers and telecommuters, businesses have begun using virtual assistants to assist with tasks beyond what a standard receptionist, office administrator or personal assistant could do.

The applicant pool for virtual assistants has increased over the years, as workers see the benefit of working remotely for an employer. Working remotely allows the employee to work from home, from a coffee shop, or late into the evening rather than being confined to standard business hours. This gives employees the flexibility to live in remote locations where jobs may not be plentiful, and also to have flexible hours to accommodate family or personal schedules.

Why Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant?

For employers, virtual assistants also offer many benefits. Busy executives might find that they have little time to focus on important tasks, because administrative tasks continue to take up a bulk of their daily work time. Some other reasons you should hire a virtual assistant include:

  • You can’t find local administrative talent.
  • Your previous hires have been lower-quality.
  • You’ve experienced high turnover with administrative staff.
  • Your job has become more demanding recently.
  • Your core tasks aren’t getting done in the hours you have.
  • You want to pay only for hours worked.
  • You don’t want to or can’t afford to pay a full-time worker with benefits.
  • You don’t have a physical office or room for your assistant.
    You want to manage your growth.
  • You want to reduce your stress, workload and overwhelm in your job.

With a virtual assistant, you can draw from a pool of nationwide applications with a wide variety of skills and qualifications, versus a much more limited local talent pool. This gives you more opportunity to find the right fit when you hire your virtual assistant. In addition, you can hire a part-time, full-time or even contract virtual assistant, as well as multiple virtual assistants, allowing you to scale up or down your requirements as you need them.

What your VA Can Do:

Take advantage of your virtual assistant to complete all of those tasks on your to-do list that you either hate doing, prefer not to do, or that you don’t want to spend time doing. Some examples include:

  • Travel arrangements
  • Scheduling/calendar
  • Calls and emails
  • Composing letters or memos
  • Database management
  • Scanning and faxing
  • Bookkeeping / light accounting
  • Market or other research
  • Direct mail campaigns and correspondence
  • Project management
  • Filing and organizing
  • Event planning
  • Shopping and other errands

Many virtual assistants have a niche area of expertise, or specialty, such as event planning, accounting, or word processing. Still others may have specific industry experience such as virtual assistance for real estate companies or technology companies. Think about which specialties and experience would best benefit you and your company when hiring a virtual assistant, and be sure to list these things as being a plus when you submit your job description.

Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant:

Here are some things to keep in mind during your virtual assistant hiring process:

  • Consider paying a fair hourly rate for your virtual assistant based on the value you are seeking in a candidate.
  • Decide whether you plan to pay your virtual assistant part-time or full-time, and note the amount of hours per week or month needed.
  • Clearly define your expectations for your virtual assistant, including responsibilities, accountability and turnaround time.
  • Identify your preferred way to communicate with your virtual assistant, including phone, email, video chat, instant messaging, and project management applications.
  • Include some type of training for your virtual assistant, including identifying systems, software and other tools needed to do the job.

Keys to Success with your Virtual Assistant:

There is a right way and a wrong way to work with virtual assistants. The most important thing to remember is that virtual assistants are employees too. With that said, you should always treat your virtual assistant just as you would any physical employee. This means that you should always:

  • Pay them on time and show them respect.
  • Praise your virtual assistant for a job well done.
  • Offer your virtual assistant the right information to do the job.
  • Communicate with your virtual assistant regularly and adequately.
  • Set up time tracking software to monitor your virtual assistant’s activity
  • Pay your virtual assistant for time worked, but don’t micromanage them.
  • Allow your virtual assistant to work independently
  • Work with your virtual assistant to arrive at a schedule and workload that works for both of you.

Virtual assistants continue to ease the workload of many a busy professional. They’re a great asset to have in your back pocket in order to keep things moving at work and reduce the stress of running your business while you grow.

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