A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant ) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical ...
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Nonprofit professional association dedicated to education and certification of virtual assistants.
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A number of professionals are realizing the usefulness of hiring virtual assistants to deal with tasks that the professional doesn't have time to deal with personally. You might be deciding whether hiring a virtual assistant is right for you. It might make sense if you find yourself spending too much of your time on tasks that can be accomplished by someone with a much lower skill set, but you don't need to hire an actual full-time or part-time employee. If your time is worth $40 per hour and you're doing accounts payable work that someone else can easily do for $25 per hour, it might make more sense to delegate that work to a virtual assistant. That said, there are many important things to consider before forging ahead and hiring someone.
Businesses that are just starting up benefit the most from virtual assistants. As a new business owner, you know how difficult it is to remain organized. A virtual assistant can increase your productivity and add more time for you to work on more important and larger projects. With the added help, you also have another person to collaborate with you.
Virtual assistants work from a home or remote offices, rather than in your brick-and-mortar location. Communication between you and your virtual assistant takes place on the telephone, through e-mail, or through snail mail. If your office is in your home, this can be beneficial for privacy. Also, if your office space is very small, hiring a virtual assistant will make sure your work remains personal and confidential. You may even be able to communicate through a smartphone. As reported by Google, 93% of smartphone owners make calls from home, 81% surf the Internet, and 77% look up topics on their phones. About 45% use their phones to plan social functions, and 72% of those users are on their phones at the same time another technology is being used. In fact, 39% of smartphone owners even admit to using their phone while they go to the restroom.
One of the best features of hiring a virtual assistant is the cost savings. As the assistant works from home, you do not have to buy any technology or equipment for the employee. Virtual assistants are also independent contractors. This means you do not have to worry about payroll or taxes associated with normal employment. The added costs associated with a general employee can almost double the average salary rate. Sick days, holiday pay, maternity leave, and benefit packages can make it very difficult for you to afford a staff. You might not need or be able to pay for full-time or even part-time regular employees. General employees require a set number of hours per week at a predetermined hourly price. This would not work well if you needed an assistant only for a seasonal or holiday projects. You can hire a virtual assistant at any time and for however long you need. Virtual assistants are only paid for the work they actually do, and nothing more.
In a general employment scenario, you would have to pay an employee a set salary no matter how much work is actually accomplished. Virtual assistants can be paid at your convenience—per hour, per project, or by retainer. These can be determined prior to the project and can amount to a set number for a how much work is done over a week or month. Retainers can be another cost-efficient way for you to save money, as they are usually available at a discounted rate. Because of the many ways to pay your virtual assistant, you can easily choose pay periods that work well for you.
One of the biggest drawbacks to hiring a virtual assistant is the inability to have face-to-face communications. An on-site assistant is easily accessible because you can hand that person information and tasks. When you give a virtual assistant work to do you, you have to wait for the assistant to reply to your request. Most communication is not done in real time, so you must wait for a reply.
It is not uncommon to find a virtual worker who does not have the same qualifications as an employee who works on-site. Nothing can take the place of training on location. This sometimes leaves virtual assistants unqualified to perform the tasks they have been given. If they have questions concerning the job, often they will try to troubleshoot issues on their own, which can cause problems with company goals.
Whenever you send information over the Internet, you run the risk of that information being hacked or leaked. A virtual assistant has access to many important decisions and information concerning company policy, sales, schedules and other administrative and management materials. The exposure of some information can be detrimental to the success of the company.
When an employee works from home, that person is not monitored. There is no one to watch to see if that person is actually performing the job. A company that hires virtual assistants runs the risk of paying an employee who takes frequent breaks or even does not do the job at all. Some jobs require that an employee logs on to a network, which keeps track of hourly work on the clock. It is still possible for the employee to log in and perform personal tasks while on the clock. The best way to address this is to give the assistant a task and to set a time limit or deadline for the tasks to be completed.
Virtual assistants usually have an hourly rate of between $20 and $45. A virtual assistant working exclusively for upscale clients can often earn more than $100 per hour.
Paying a virtual assistant can have financial benefits. Because the assistant is working from a remote location, you do not have to worry about renting a larger workspace. This can be especially beneficial if you work from home. It is also not necessary to provide your virtual assistant with costly equipment, since that person already has everything necessary.
Time is money. Having a virtual assistant will free up a great deal of your time. By not having to deal with things such as payroll, taxes, and time-consuming everyday tasks, you can focus on doing the work that earns you money.
If you're a busy professional, a virtual assistant can provide many benefits, freeing up a lot of your time and allowing you to focus on more important work. However, it's important to consider issues such as the qualifications, security, and reliability of an assistant when deciding whether or not to hire. The best assistant will provide exactly what you need at a great value, but you might need to do research and try out a few people before you find someone who works well with you. The importance of the information the assistant will be handling is also a critical consideration. Until you trust the assistant completely, you might want to hold off on using that person for work involving extremely important or sensitive information. Hiring a virtual assistant can be a great boon to your productivity, but be sure to consider all the angles first.
Does your business need help with administrative or technical services, but you don't want to spend a lot of money hiring employees to fill these roles. You might find that you can get the services that you need from a virtual assistance.
Business.com can help you learn more about the services that you might expect from a virtual office assistant. The links posted on the left will help you compare the prices and services offered by several assistants.
As you explore your options, you will likely learn that some virtual assistants offer services that you need while others have services that will not greatly benefit you. For instance, some virtual assistants only provide technical services. That's great for a small business that needs help implementing new technology. A company that needs help with payroll or human resources, however, will want to look for an assistant that specializes in these areas.
There are several business advantages to hiring a virtual office assistant. For instance, you can avoid employee-related taxes, benefits, and insurance. You can also avoid reserving office space for these professionals. The prices that they charge, however, can differ significantly. That means you should ask for quotes before making your final choice.
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