Remit is an independent management consultancy that advises companies in the property industry on how to become more profitable.
Many of the team previously worked at EY and we wanted the benefits of the best virtual support for the business without the overheads associated with large city center offices. Our teams generally work with our clients or remotely and we were relatively early adopters of cloud-based software to virtually connect our European teams.
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Advice on how to apply technology effectively and most of our work involves transforming the way businesses work to take advantage of innovation. Our teams work from London, Amsterdam, and Paris and we have associates in several more European countries.
We got to the point that we needed someone to coordinate a lot of the business that was not fee earning but that makes a difference to the service that we can offer clients. Our first part-time PA was based locally at my home and that worked well for some years. The work became more full time and in the end, overwhelmed the time she could spend on it so we had to consider other options.
How did you research virtual assistant providers?
We’d had a number of UK virtual PAs recommended by friends and had also seen advertising for A Virtual. A Virtual seemed to provide at least a useful benchmark. We interviewed two other PAs and received a quote from A Virtual. We spoke to the A Virtual team and were impressed by the services offered and the cost was very reasonable, so our choice was made.
What were the main decision-making criteria you used?
The cost came into it and at this stage, we didn’t really know how many hours per week we needed – so flexibility was important.
What attracted you to A Virtual?
The cost and flexibility. Individual PAs were rightly trying to fill their week with an assured level of work so that they could be as chargeable as possible – we found it difficult to guarantee these levels or fit around their existing clients. Also, at the time, London based PAs were about twice the cost of A Virtual. A Virtual allowed us to choose a package of hours and they would take care of managing workloads – much easier for us.
How did you integrate a virtual assistant into your company?
It’s difficult to start with. I was (and still am) the main contact because I have the most meetings to sort out. Meeting management is a huge help and saves me at least a day a week. There is a lot more that we were offered – travel booking, website management, etc., but it took us a long time for us to start using our PA more fully. All the PAs that we have worked with (Tammy, Nicole, and now Sarah) have been amazing – organised, professional and they’ve all become friends. Now Sarah works with all our team, not just me, and we don’t think of her as working for anyone else. She provides invaluable help to relieve the team during times of high workload.
Any advice for companies looking to bring in virtual employees?
It’s natural to tread carefully at first – we started with a small package of hours and gradually built up. Use video calls as much as you can – now they are very good with minimal lag and it is much easier to work like that.
Where do you see remote working going?
Now that the technology has provided decent video calling and screen sharing supported by tools like Office 365, there is almost no visible difference to hiring people in the UK – except for the cost and flexibility. The only downside is being in a London office with rain lashing at the windows and seeing bright sunshine and temperatures of 30 degrees on the screen in Cape Town.
Below: A Virtual assistant Sarah meets the remit team on a trip to London