A Virtual Assistant is someone that supports your business or day-to-day lifestyle but is not based in your place of business or home. More and more companies are offering their employees increased flexibility or are outsourcing the work on this basis, as it allows individuals the flexibility to work from home and supports general wellbeing and a work life balance.
A Virtual Assistant has become more popular over the last 10 years. To hire a Virtual Assistant is predominantly done on a freelance basis. You will either agree a number of retainer hours to pay each week/month or work on a timed basis of an hourly rate.
How can a Virtual Assistant help?
Virtual Assistants can offer different sets of skills such as:
- PA duties including email management, diary management, phone support, lead generations, social media engagement and posts
- Finance including bookkeeping, payroll and credit control
- HR including creating contracts and policies, recruitment, DBS checks, staff sickness and absences recording and monitoring
- Projects work
- Executive Assistant tasks such as presentations, proposal writing, transcript and audio typing.
How much does a Virtual Assistant cost?
Depending on what tasks you need, the rate can differ. On average a Virtual Personal Assistant can range from £15 to £40 per hour depending on skills, experience and location.
Hiring remote support, such as a VA, can reduce your fixed costs significantly. You are not paying for breaks, holiday and sickness, pension, equipment, workspace, commuting time and there is no office distraction for the remote support worker. Some Virtual Assistants work outside the 9 to 5 hours; however, this is be agreed in advance.
WHAT SERVICES CAN A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT PROVIDE?
Virtual Assistance can support or oversee daily operations, as majority of systems are cloud based or programmes that are able to be uploaded from a remote position. You can support your businesses with as little or as much as you need, using virtual services and having a remote staff-based company, with the customer not even knowing that they are not based within your office. Virtual assistants are offering more and more services, such as social media, graphic design, proof reading, content writing, and speech writing to support a flexible work life balance.
There can be a mix of Virtual Assistant service offered, some are mainly lifestyle VAs and provide tasks such as:
- Organising diaries
- Booking travel
- Comparing and researching utilities
- Paying bills
- Buying gifts
- Organising events
Others offer Business services such as:
- Social media
- Audio typing
- Proof reading
- Presentation writing
- Bid and tender management
- Sales enquires lead generation or end to end
- Customer service
- Credit control and more
Then there are those that can offer both.
Adjusting to working with a Virtual Assistant
Some Virtual Assistants offer the opportunity to build face-to-face connection through video calls or in person to help build the professional relationship and trust for it to be able to work effectively on a remote basis. It can take a month or two to establish the most effective relationship and see the benefits of working with remote support and the more information provided, the easier it is for the VA to meet the objectives.
Virtual Assistants can offer a lot of flexibility to your life and business, not only in terms of cost, as majority will have no contractual ties, but also with flexibility, as you can pass over as little or as much as you like and this can often be done over a gradual period as the remote working relationship develops.
It can be hard to adapt to working with remote VAs, but once you learn to trust your VA it will work in the same way as employing someone on-site. It helps to set guidelines for both parties and establish how, when and frequency of communications. Some prefer audio messages/phone calls, zoom calls, texts, WhatsApp or email, for daily updates. Make it work for you!
Virtual Assistants unfortunately, cannot make your coffee for you or run errands, but this is a small price to pay when it could save you thousands when comparing the costs and also freeing up your time. According to many articles, Virtual Assistants and freelance workers are growing, resulting in more and more businesses turning to outsourcing.
Finding a Virtual Assistant
There are many different companies to go with, but research helps to make sure it is the right support for you. Also ensure they are compliant with GDPR and cyber security.
Virtual Assistants market themselves through different platforms, most commonly used are LinkedIn, People Per Hour and Fiver. Check reviews and get a general feel/insight for people’s pages and website. It may not be beneficial for you to go with the cheapest option. Based in and around London the price range for a VA can be on average around £20 – £40 per hour. Some will only work on retainer hours; this is you securing them regardless of the number of hours worked.
The advice is do you research!
The future is working smarter not harder, hiring a Virtual Assistant is a way to achieving this. If you can learn to let go, there is a possibility to grow.