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A virtual office assistant is employed off-site to support the management of a business that may not have a brick-and-mortar location. Instead, a company in this situation is likely to have many professionals in many different places coordinating their activities through heavy digital communication – skype, email, teleconferencing, and so forth.
Let’s consider how a virtual office assistant works in more detail, and discuss the pros and cons of a business strategy that includes them.
How They Work
Just because your workplace is virtual doesn’t mean it doesn’t require much of the same administrative services that any office needs. Phones will have to be answered, coordinating emails exchanged, travel plans made, reports proof-read, and any number of other tasks that go with making a company work day-to-day.
A virtual office assistant can assume that role. Usually, they’re culled from an experienced range of administrative professionals – hiring firms often specify 5 years or more – so that they understand the responsibilities without being told on a continuous basis, the way you might have to shepherd a new assistant at a real workplace.
Through this method, costs are reduced and much of the same tasks are performed. The conditions of virtual employment usually preclude benefit distribution, so you can engage services for much less. If you’re a business owner trying to get off the ground, it’s an effective way of getting a leg up.
It’s a cost-saving method first and foremost, and it allows you to set up shop extremely quickly. Potentially, you could hire your staff and administrative support inside of a few days, acquire a physical address for mail forwarding in a prestigious location, and get started with your production within the week. It can be an astonishingly fast way to get things done – especially with the help of an assistant.
Ties are weak among co-workers in a virtual office. People aren’t likely to be getting paid what they’d like, and there’s not much in the way of a sense of belonging when you rarely meet each other in person. Your admin staff is likely to hold little interest in your project, and may move on to a new job as soon as they find one. Bottom line: it’s not much of a long-term strategy.
Aside from that, you’ll possibly be engaging the services of workers who may not jibe with your methods or manners of business, since many virtual office assistants are hired from the developing world. Time zones are different, mores can vary, and you may find yourself dissatisfied with the way your new assistant is representing the company. If you’re looking for a folksy Southerner to answer the phones and make American customers feel comfortable, you’ll have some trouble.
If you’re looking to jump-start your business, virtual office assistants can be a boon you can’t afford to ignore. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a more sustainable business model, it may not be right for you.