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Welcome the Future of Work. Not too long ago, virtual personal assistants were something from the movies. They were symbols of a hyper-efficient, sparkly future. The calm, assured voice at the other end of a phone call could organise anything, take care of the day-to-day humdrum for the slick business mogul.
The virtual assistant was the angel who would let us know our digital future was truly here.
The thing is, the angel has landed. Our digital future is upon us, and the information age has kicked off.
Right now, companies like AVirtual and others offer VPA services. Virtual Personal Assistants are real, and they are changing the way people do business, moulding the physical shape of companies.
Consider for a moment the tasks of a PA and the way your working space is designed to accommodate them.
They sit at a desk, often in an office separate to yours, with a computer and a phone. If you close your office door, the PA’s work still gets done. Would it matter if the PA was in the next room or South Africa?
Digital applications running on increasingly powerful computers have made the lives of traditional PAs easier while adding new requirements to their portfolios.
Quite apart from answering the phone and managing the diary, they now perform a range of services from juggling calendars to social media management.
These same digital applications and hardware also mean that the functions of a modern PA can easily be handled off-site. Hiring a virtual personal assistant is now a viable choice for a business, as they are just a phone call or an email away.
With connectivity improving and the advent of fibre coupled with the trend of remote work, it was only a matter of time before personal assistants started working off-site. The same goes for bookkeepers and marketing assistants. They’ve gone virtual too.
Most of the office chores that are so often seen as drudgery by entrepreneurs can now be handled remotely. A virtual personal assistant can’t make you a cup of coffee, but they can arrange the best coffee in the city is delivered to your desk.
Improve Efficiency Virtually
We’ve all rolled our eyes and glanced pointedly at our watches when we see colleagues or employees gathered around the water-cooler, gossiping while they’re on the clock.
It’s a cliché about the workplace, but it’s also a truism about employing people that never goes away.
When you’re developing or growing a business, efficiency is a core concern. This is particularly true of getting the most out of employees. Virtual personal assistants around the world tend to be self-employed.
As such, they are highly motivated and driven by the need to deliver quality service to get paid. Efficiency is paramount in their arsenal of services, as this is one of the key reasons they exist.
VPAs exist to deliver office administrative functions as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Apart from paying only for the service you receive, there are other key advantages to using a virtual personal assistant. The first of these is the fact that you don’t need to provide a VPA with a desk. No extra office space on the overheads means you can efficiently manage your infrastructure costs.
Where no desk is needed, there is also no requirement for a computer, a printer, a telephone, or any other hardware. Software licenses are also carried by the VPA or the company they are contracted to.
These savings go deeper when you start to think about other factors that contribute to a permanent employee’s cost-to-company.
Bundled into the CTC are things like unemployment benefits, medical aid, annual leave, employee tax, all of which increase operational costs.
Hiring a VPA is done on a contract basis with an agreed retainer or hourly fees. Once again, a business can efficiently manage costs by choosing a Virtual service over a traditional employee.
Scalability is a Virtual Guarantee
With the information age and all the wonders it brings to your desk, comes a plethora of new tasks piled on the desk of today’s entrepreneur.
In addition to driving business relationships, closing deals and seeing to operational matters, a modern businessman is supposed to be digitally savvy too.
This is where virtual staff come into their own. You can now hire Virtual Assistants to handle a range of digital tasks.
For marketing, they can build websites then update and handle SEO matters.
Virtual assistants can manage social media campaigns and communities, prepare payrolls, write blogs, and so forth. AVirtual’s list of services through its online team makes for impressive reading.
These individuals are also available on an ad hoc basis. Your use of virtual can expand and contract with the natural ebb and flow of your business.
For instance, if you’re doing business on the Continent and a document originated in Spanish crosses your desk, an accurate translation is just a phone call away. There’s no need to hire or retain a Spanish staff member.
Perhaps you need a transcription of an important meeting you’ve recorded on your smartphone? There’s an experienced digital assistant who can do this.
In the digital age, an operation such as AVirtual has a pool of people who represent all the skills you could possibly need for any business.
They have a support structure to turn to if instruction or advice is needed on a task. Where once a business would need to send staff on workshops to develop or hone new skills, now they exist at the end of an email.
This is particularly useful if your business experiences a sudden growth spurt or is in any way seasonal. Whether it’s a special event or a visiting delegation from Japan that suddenly needs concierge services, all can be handled virtually.
Everything is Changing, Virtually
Change can be painful or uncomfortable at times. If you are used to working face-to-face with an assistant, the move to virtual will present a paradigm shift. Like learning a new app, it will take time, but the benefits will quickly become apparent.
Many people are concerned about the issue of loyalty from Virtual Assistants. A highly experienced and skilled office administrator might set themselves up to work remotely. This has benefits, as you can get an outstanding secretary, bookkeeper or clerk for a very reasonable rate, but you are going to have to share that person.
It is important to remember that like you, the virtual personal assistant is running a business. To them you, the client, are of paramount importance, and their business depends on handling your tasks discretely and well.
Long and extremely beneficial working relationships can be built in this way in much the same way as good rapport is built with traditional employees.
Going virtual, however, brings the business owner many of the advantages already mentioned, such as affordability, scalability and efficiency.
For the VPA, this can also mean the ability to work from home. They can enjoy better family lives, avoid stressful commutes and work in an environment where they feel at ease, often on their own terms.
It is easier to build lasting professional relationships based on a situation where both parties are deriving benefits based on their intended life goals.
Virtual could mean the beginning of a beautiful relationship for your professional life.
As the industry of remote business services grows, a savvy digital company such as AVirtual will inevitably look to market a cohesive offering.
With a strategic understanding of the digital environment, AVirtual can recruit specialists in key administrative areas.
Each of the operators we retain has exceptional administrative skills, and we have some shining stars who are specialists in rare or unusual functions.
An employer might ask one of our virtual office administrators to handle stock control in their business. All the administrator has to do is tap our stock control specialist for advice or input, and the task can be simply, virtually managed. The same is true for social media profiles, bookkeeping, and so on.
Employing for Substance
When you hire a traditional personal assistant or any employee for that matter, there is a genuine feeling of growth and substance for your business. This can be a very affirming process, and it can have tremendous benefits long term.
As you go through the interview process, you pick and sort through skill sets and personalities. You get to know people, slowly at first and then once they are appointed, the process accelerates.
Working together allows both you and your assistant to learn the rhythms and waves of your professional life.
There will be immediate benefits. Certain things that you’d been doing with a heavy heart, like call-backs for quotes, can be removed from your to-do list.
Perhaps you get home a little earlier each day, or you have more time to chase new business. Slowly, your PA will become indispensable, especially on that day when they remember and shop for your partner’s birthday.
Tradition is a beautiful thing, but none of the experience of having a traditional employee is lost by recruiting a virtual personal assistant. Despite the distance and technology that might separate you, a VPA is hired through an interview process. Once appointed, you can see how they fit your organisation or work ethos.
A contract arrangement based on an hourly rate can be quickly terminated if someone is not the right fit, and you can find someone who is.
The early benefits of having someone relieve you of the mundane daily tasks will be just as glaring with a VPA as with an assistant on your premises.
The recruitment process for a virtual assistant is pretty much the same as hiring a traditional employee. The rounds of interviews and the hit-and-miss nature of reviewing CVs are pretty similar. Approaching a company that specialises in remote digital staff is like using a recruitment agency to find employees who are the best fit for you.
Given time, your assigned VPA will learn the culture and intricacies of your business. With prolonged exposure and accurate briefs, dealing with them will be like popping your head in their office for a quick word.
There’s an added advantage with a VPA from AVirtual. If at any time their workload gets too heavy, they can draw on the resources of our office pool to complete tasks timeously.
In the physical world, this would necessitate hiring another staff member or bringing temps into your office.
Virtually Anything is Possible
With the versatility and immediacy of Virtual Assistant services, the world of business is changing. The cost of building a business for entrepreneurs is decreasing just as the range of services available online decreases.
There are very few traditional business functions that can’t be handled remotely in the digital age.
A business can be built around just about any product or service using virtual assistants. It can be scaled up or scaled down rapidly depending on the workflow, and all the costs can be managed on a project to project basis.
One of the most common complaints of entrepreneurs is that they have ideas and drive, but lack organisational skills or ability. That’s no longer a barrier to entry for starting a business.
With a virtual personal assistant, just a phone call away, you can turn your idea or your hobby into a profitable business.
Any skill you lack is available for hire online. Anything is possible. There’s a virtual assistant who can build you a website, write you a blog, develop and implement a comprehensive digital marketing campaign. They can do the bookkeeping, sort out a payroll, recruit a product designer, even order your coffee.
The virtual workspace makes the world your oyster. You just need a little assistance.