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The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Posted: 22nd May 2017

Personal assistants have always worked closely with their employer, both literally and geographically. With the rise of a global economy, shared workspaces and technology such as Skype and the Cloud, it’s no longer always necessary or practical for employees to work in-house. As most business operations and interactions are done online, a virtual PA is fast becoming a valuable resource for companies of all shapes and sizes.

Virtual assistants work in a similar way as their onsite predecessor, however instead of being constrained in your office, they can work for your business from anywhere in the world.

What to consider before hiring a virtual PA

• Make sure you know what jobs your PA will support you on. Writing a detailed job spec with roles and responsibilities will help provide clear guidelines on what the role involves for you and your virtual PA, as well as the rest of the business. This will also help you understand whether you need a part or full-time assistant.
• Before making the decision to hire a virtual assistant, it’s important to assess your management style and procedures. Impromptu face to face meetings aren’t possible when your assistant is not onsite so it’s crucial to organise how you’re going to communicate with each other. Regular meetings, whether it be via Skype, phone or email, should be scheduled accordingly. This way your virtual PA feels supported and you can successfully oversee and streamline their tasks.
• Every penny counts and you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the best value from your investment. You’ll find plenty of VA’s to suit your budget, but it’s important to keep in mind that their skillset, expertise, attributes and professionalism will vary.

With considered management and clear communication, a virtual PA can provide the following benefits, and more, to your business;

• When budgets are tight, hiring a virtual PA can be an effective way to cut business costs. By outsourcing your PA activity, your business can reduce (or remove completely) some of the costs associated with a full time employee such as benefits, training and utility. Similarly to a traditional PA, it’s important to hire a virtual PA that’s right for you and your business’ needs. Hiring an assistant is often as much about a personality fit as it is about professional ability. If you don’t have the time, money or resources to complete your own hiring, there are variety of services that can match your business with a PA perfect for your needs. For example, SmartPA, which provides PA and secretarial services, continuously trains their PAs helping to reduce the cost associated with completing these activities in-house.
• Outsourcing to a virtual PA can give your business greater flexibility when resourcing. For example, if your business is going through a busy period, you may require more support in a particular area. One of the great benefits of a virtual employee is you can hire based on particular skills and speciality as and when it’s needed. Alternatively, you might run an early stage business that does not yet have enough budget to commit to the costs of a full time employee. Therefore, a virtual PA can be an effective option to support your business as it grows.

When going through a growth period, it can often feel as if you have hundreds of tasks to complete, from operational changes to staffing. A virtual assistant can support your business by completing the non-essential tasks. This will allow you to focus your time on the crucial areas to help grow your business successfully. For example, the types of tasks a virtual PA can help with include:

• Call handling
• Diary and calendar management
• Travel plans
• Event management and coordination
• Bookkeeping
• Meetings
• Research

Deciding whether to hire a virtual PA can feel like a difficult decision to make. With so many factors to consider, it can be hard to know whether it’s right for your business. It’s important to consider your business’ operational capacity and the style in which your employees are managed. A virtual PA can offer a variety of benefits to both your company’s bottom dollar and growth and by ensuring clear communication and expectations, your relationship with your virtual PA can be a successful one.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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