It’s no secret that the virtual assistant industry has grown over the last few years.
But why hire a virtual assistant?
How can they help you and your business?
In this article, we’ll highlight the top five reasons to hire a virtual assistant. We’ll also show you when you need to hire one, how to manage them effectively and where you can hire them from.
The article contains:
(Click on the links to jump to a specific section)
- What’s A Virtual Assistant?
- The Five Reasons To Hire A Virtual Assistant For Your Business
- When To Hire A Virtual Assistant
- How To Manage Your Virtual Assistant
- Top Five Virtual Assistant Websites
Let’s get started.
What’s A Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an individual who provides different services to businesses or entrepreneurs from a remote location. While they’re not in-office employees, they can access the necessary data and tools to do the job virtually.
Traditionally, virtual assistants were self-employed individuals who specialized in doing specific tasks. However, as the virtual assistant industry grew, you now have virtual assistant companies that provide you with virtual assistants for a range of services like:
- Customer support
- Administrative tasks
- Social media marketing
- Data entry and management
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- And over 90 other tasks!
The Top Five Reasons To Hire A Virtual Assistant For Your Business
So, why hire a virtual assistant?
Here are the top five reasons to hire a virtual assistant:
1. Reduced Costs
Most business owners and entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants to reduce their overhead costs.
Here’s how it can help you save money
A. Lower Salaries And Operating Costs
Instead of hiring a full-time employee to do a small job, you can hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. As they usually charge on an hourly or task basis, you only have to pay them for work that’s actually done.
Additionally, as they’re working remotely, you won’t have to pay for overheads like their internet connection, laptop or other office space related expenses.
B. Lower Training Costs
You can also save on training costs by hiring virtual professionals.
Think about it.
When you hire a first-time employee, you’ll have to invest a considerable amount of time and resources into training them for different aspects of their job. However, as virtual assistants only work on specific tasks that they already excel at, you won’t have to worry about training them.
They can get started right away!
2. Increase Efficiency By Outsourcing Non-Core Tasks
Another benefit of hiring virtual assistants is that it lets businesses focus on their core competencies.
Companies and entrepreneurs deal with tons of non-core activities like
- Sending emails and newsletters
- Handling customer queries
- Internet research
- Scheduling meetings
- Data entry
While these are necessary tasks, they’re not core tasks that need to be done by an in-house team. Forcing your in-house employees to do these tasks takes away time they could be spending on things that need to be done in person.
By outsourcing your non-core activities to a virtual assistant with the right skill set, you don’t have to worry about managing these activities in-house. This lets you invest your time and resources into tasks that need to be done by your in-office team.
3. Quickly Scale Your Business Operations
Virtual assistants can also help you scale up your business operations quickly.
As they give you the ability to quickly hire talent on a project-by-project basis, you can easily cope with increasing work demands without worrying about rushing your recruitment process.
You can use virtual assistants to quickly deal with sudden scope increases and then slowly hire full-time employees once things have settled down.
4. Offer 24/7 Customer Service
Most businesses have customers spread across the globe.
But when your business and staff are only located in one area, coping with global needs and international timezones can be difficult.
For example, if you’re based in New York, your operating hours will be midnight for your customers in Melbourne, Australia! The only way you can deal with this is if your New York office works 24 hours a day!
Luckily, as virtual assistants are based remotely, you can hire them across the globe to cater to different timezones. This way, you and your staff can maintain a good work-life balance while still being able to attend to customers 24×7!
5. Frees Up Time For Strategic Thinking
As virtual assistants can perform your non-core activities, you have more time to focus on growing your business.
Rather than wasting time and resources in doing day-to-day operations, you can invest it to think strategically about the business from a long term perspective. This helps you to set goals that guide your company for better performance and long-term success.
When To Hire A Virtual Assistant For Your Company
It’s clear that virtual assistants can be very helpful to your business.
But when are they most useful?
1. When You Have Work That Doesn’t Need A Full-Time Employee
When there’s a task that only requires a few hours of work per day or week, hiring someone full-time for it is impractical. For example, recruiting an employee solely to schedule client meetings isn’t a smart idea.
In such cases, when there are small tasks or one-off projects, it’s better to use virtual assistance from a remote professional.
2. When There Are Repetitive And Non-Core Tasks
Most businesses spend a lot of time on non-core tasks like answering phone calls and emails every day.
If you find yourself wasting most of your hours doing such time-consuming daily tasks, you need to hire a virtual assistant. They can handle these activities efficiently, freeing up time for you to focus on more essential tasks.
How To Manage Your Virtual Assistant
Most people worry about hiring virtual assistants for one key reason:
As they’re based remotely, how do you manage them?
- How do you communicate project requirements?
- How do you monitor their productivity?
- How do you ensure that they’re working?
While these are all valid concerns, you needn’t worry about any of them!
There are tons of tools that help you manage your virtual assistants easily.
Here’s a close look at two kinds of tools you need to invest in to manage your VAs effectively:
1. Communication Tools
Your virtual assistants might be thousands of miles away.
So how do you communicate with them?
With the right communication tools, you’ll have no difficulty getting in touch with your VAs and keeping them on the same page
A. Messaging Tools
Messaging tools like Fleep and Slack are great platforms for you and your virtual professionals to communicate with each other. It lets you discuss work demands, share project updates and send files — all in one place!
You can even create custom channels for project-specific conversations. For example, you can create a social media marketing channel for conversations with the virtual assistants who handle your social media accounts.
B. Video Calling Tools
Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype let you host team meetings and project reviews for detailed walkthroughs and task planning. They can also help you build team chemistry with your virtual assistants to ensure that they feel connected to your company.
2. Performance Monitoring Tools
Worried that you can’t monitor your VA’s performance and productivity?
With performance monitoring tools like Time Doctor, you’ll have everything you need to monitor your VAs easily.
What’s Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a powerful performance monitoring tool that’s used by Apple, KPMG and PwC to monitor their employees. It lets you track what your virtual assistant is doing to ensure that they’re focusing on your tasks.
Here’s a detailed look at how Time Doctor helps you monitor your virtual assistants
A. Track Their Work Hours Easily
Time Doctor’s accurate time tracker lets you track the time VAs spend on your work. As it’s a self-start/stop timer, the virtual assistant can turn it on when they start working on a task and stop it when they’re done.
It requires next to no training and they can get started right away!
Note – Time Doctor does not track a user when the timer isn’t running.
B. Advanced Reports That Break Down Their Work Hours
Time Doctor auto-generates tons of powerful reports that let you know how your virtual assistants are using their work hours. Here’s a look at some of its key reports:
- Timesheet Report – shows the total hours worked by all your virtual assistants on each workday.
- Time Use Report – displays the time spent on tasks by a single VA over a specific period.
- Timeline Report – gives a chronological breakdown of each VA’s work activity on a particular day.
- Projects Report – shows you which VA worked on each project and for how long.
You can click here for more information on Time Doctor’s reports.
C. Ensure That Your VAs Are Actively Working
Time Doctor’s inactivity tracker guards against your virtual assistant logging idle time as hours worked. If there’s been no mouse or keyboard activity for over three minutes, the timer automatically pauses as it assumes the user to be on a break.
This way, VAs can only log active hours as hours worked.
Note – Time Doctor doesn’t track what keys were pressed by a user, it only determines if any keys were pressed or not.
D. Monitor Their Web And App Usage
Time Doctor’s web and app monitoring feature tracks the websites and apps used by your virtual assistants while they’re working. It even alerts them when they’re accessing unproductive websites like social media.
The tool also generates a Web and App Usage Report, which tells you which websites and apps were used by the virtual assistant and for how long. This helps you to determine if they’re wasting work hours on non-work related websites and apps.
E. Easily Pay Them Based On Their Hours Worked
Most virtual assistants bill you on an hourly basis for their work. To make it easy to accurately pay them for their work, Time Doctor has a built-in payroll feature.
It automatically calculates the salary you have to pay them based on their hours worked. While it integrates with popular payment methods like Payoneer, Paypal and Wise, formerly TransferWise, you can also use a payment platform of your choice to pay your virtual assistants.
The Top Five Virtual Assistant Websites
While you can post job descriptions on LinkedIn and other job portals to hire VAs, using dedicated virtual assistant businesses and marketplaces is a smarter choice.
To help you get started, here are five popular websites for good virtual assistant services:
Upwork is a premier freelancing website for businesses looking to hire virtual professionals. It’s a good platform to outsource your accounting, data entry and app development services to expert virtual assistants.
Click here to read our Upwork review for more information.
Fiverr is a popular freelance marketplace for virtual assistants. You can use Fiverr to hire people for different tasks like managing social media accounts, transcription services and SEO.
Click here to learn the best ways to use Fiverr for hiring virtual assistants.
FreelanceMyWay is another excellent website for virtual assistant services. It helps you hire expert freelancers like personal assistants, data entry professionals, customer support staff and more. It also lets you pay your VAs only when certain goals have been met.
4. Virtual Staff Finder
Virtual Staff Finder is a virtual assistant company that gives you some of the best virtual assistants from the Philippines based on your business needs. However, it’s more suited for businesses looking to hire virtual assistants on a long-term basis.
5. VaVa Virtual Assistants
VaVa Virtual is a virtual assistant service provider for small business owners and entrepreneurs. They offer skilled professionals for web designing, administrative tasks, digital marketing, real estate management and more.
Why hire a virtual assistant?
The answer is simple.
They can help you streamline your work activities in no time!
From handling your phone calls to managing your social media accounts, they can free up your time to focus on core activities. Also, as they’re skilled at what they do, they won’t need constant supervision — it’s a win-win for everyone involved!
Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.