The digital world calls for optimized approaches and transformations; the Emergence of the Virtual Assistant’s position can be considered as a response to the digital market’s abnormal growth and an urgent call for novelties in every sphere including the labor market. Therefore, Virtual Assistant is a relatively new post and distinct from all other conventional jobs.
We should not only follow the trends and developments around us but in ideal situations, learn from the progressive nature of the contemporary world and eventually become trendsetters ourselves. The latter is true not only for individuals but also for businesses and companies aiming at developing and thriving. In the article below, you will learn about virtual assistant’s skills and later on see how the initiation of such a position is related to the developments arisen from global digitalization.
What can virtual assistants do?
There are various fields Virtual Assistants professionalize in. Because of the Virtual Assistant’s expertise in multiple spheres they can help you build the brand and broaden your mission swiftly and effectively. Their sphere of operation is remarkably diverse, from the basic administrative tasks for your company to research for personal reasons virtual assistants can accomplish all kinds of goals. To put it simply, there is no fixed job description in this area.
Range of tasks performed by VA
You can outsource any administrative task to VA. Whether it is making appointments, booking trips, scheduling events. Virtual Assistants can organize and plan the entire event or a trip from top to bottom. If you are faced with mundane tasks, such as data entry, transcribing, managing contact lists, organizing spreadsheets and etc. you can easily avoid such tedious tasks by charging VA with them. He/She will support you and provide quality service at an appropriate rate.
VA can be your focal point of contact and manage your official correspondence. On most occasions, email correspondence can be managed with templates prepared beforehand. If provided with clear guidelines VAs can correspond on your behalf about topics that do not require in-depth research. VA can act in your name under any kind of scenario. In case of an unexpected change of events, you can always communicate with each other and come up with desirable solutions. VA can do desk research on various topics, looking into relevant sources of information. So, while you save time and energy your work is performed with high quality. At the end of the day, your reports will be filled up nicely, waiting for you to read them.
Which additional areas are covered by VA?
Don’t get us wrong, VAs are not all about monotonous administrative tasks. Especially now, in a new era of remote work and Covid-19, almost any type of work can be done remotely. Hence, the range of areas in which VA can come in handy has expanded and diversified. In addition to the above-listed duties, VA can cover the tasks of the Social media manager. In this role, VAs might be less independent because they will need more active communication with the client, designer, etc.
However, as current circumstances have proved, the majority of tasks can be performed remotely. So, social media managers do not need to sit in your office from 9 to 5. Also, in cases when you need expertise in a certain field and your full-time employees lack the skills to perform this duty or you want to prevent overloading them, hiring a VA can be a good option. Apart from performing administrative tasks, most VAs specialize in various areas and can offer valuable service. VAs specialize in fields like SEO, Web development, and content writing.
Virtual Assistants for personal branding
As mentioned above, you can hire a VA not only for the success of a company or a business but for personal reasons as well. Besides getting some help with your daily correspondence, travel logistics, or appointments, VAs can be useful for personal branding. This is relevant not only for famous people but for those as well who are just starting out in the fast-growing environment of social media. Making a name for yourself in the digital world is not as easy as it looks. Online presence requires a lot of time and effort but with the proper assistance and strategy you and your brand can easily become a success story. VAs can take over your social media accounts and build up your reputation and fame.
Hiring VA: How it works?
Even if all the above-mentioned tasks seem appealing, you might still wonder: “how can I manage VAs, if I have never met them in person and know very little about them?”
First of all, communication is KEY. Provide VAs with written, thoroughly outlined directions, and explanations. Make sure that nothing is vague and both sides have a clear understanding of what tasks and responsibilities are assigned to them and what are the expectations you have for your VA.
Second, having a detailed schedule is important. So, the VA does not wander aimlessly through your tasks but instead knows the chronology and deadlines for the specific tasks. This will help VA to be on track of his/her duties and be responsible. Since we are talking about time, it is worth mentioning that it’s difficult to check if VA is truly spending the agreed amount of time on your tasks.
To address this issue, you can adopt various strategies for handling business with a VA. Depending on the type of task sometimes it might be better to agree on submitting completed tasks at once rather than hiring someone hourly. In this case, it is up to VA to decide how many hours per day he/she should spend on your tasks, as long as it gets delivered within the agreed deadline.
However, keep in mind that VAs are normal human beings just like your full-time employees. VAs can encounter some obstacles on their way to accomplishing their tasks such as unexpected developments of events or personal problems. Hence, be more understanding and make sure the deadlines you set for your VA gives you 3-4 extra days for unexpected changes. This way you are less stressed about the final product and have more time to get the errors fixed.
Benefits of hiring a virtual assistant
If you are still in doubt about the importance of a VA for your company let me give you more details about the benefits of hiring VAs. First and foremost, hiring a VA helps you or your company save financial resources. Not only is VA’s wage lower compared to your full-time employees but VA can save you money in many other ways.
For example, when hiring a VA there is no need to acquire additional office furniture or stationery, office space, maintenance costs, or telephone bills. In most cases, VAs have their own laptop and internet connection. So, instead of wasting the valuable time of your qualified employees on time-consuming, routine tasks you can hire a part-time or a full-time assistant and give your employees the opportunity to use their resources at full capacity on more important tasks.
Hiring a VA can be cost-effective in a great variety of aspects and he/she saves you financial resources in many ways than just in the above-mentioned cases. To put it simply, there is no need to pay your VA during vacations. Most of the time, your full-time employees are paid for 8 hour working days. However, not all 8 hours are dedicated to completing the tasks. We are referring to lunch and coffee breaks, chats with co-workers, etc. In the case of VAs, you either remunerate hourly for the actual time spent working for you or pay for the project and completed the task, depending on your negotiation.
Working from home increases productivity of your employees
A study by Stanford of 16,000 employees over 9 months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%. This increase in performance was due to the fact that the employees were able to make more calls per minute due to a quieter, more convenient working environment. In addition, employees were able to work for more hours per shift because of fewer breaks and sick days. Furthermore, in this same study employees also reported improved work satisfaction, and attrition rates were cut by 50%.
What are the skills that VA needs?
Almost no one will ask you for a graduate or an undergraduate degree to start working as a VA. If you have one it will probably be appealing and interesting to your clients, but since there are no such requirements, as long as you have relevant skills, you are good to go even without the degrees. The main set of skills that all VAs need are the following:
- You need to be tech-savvy because all of your work is done remotely. So, a good understanding of technology is a must.
- Being organized and responsible are indispensable parts of being a VA, as well as having proper time management skills.
- Self-motivation and discipline are as crucial as in most similar jobs. Self-motivation is especially vital for a VA since there are no real colleagues or supervisors that will be motivating you.
Where to find a VA
After all the information given above, you might wonder, where can I find a VA? We’ve got you covered on that too. There are a lot of forums and platforms where VAs and freelancers gather. You can either find their “looking for a job” announcements or announce the job opening yourself and wait for relevant candidates. Such platforms are Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr.com, etc. In addition, there are many groups of freelancers on Facebook and why not post in one of them which is popular among the freelancers in your region. In addition, do not forget LinkedIn, which is also a great way to find desirable candidates.
What Concerns You May Have?
The main setback for your experience with a VA can be related to trust issues. It is indeed difficult to trust someone you have never met, hire them to work for you, and be dependent on their faithfulness. However, these concerns can be addressed with proper communication, providing clear directions, and setting the terms and conditions in advance. You may become more concerned with trusting a stranger when it comes to remuneration. It is very difficult to trust someone totally unknown and be sure that they will deliver a high-quality product and accomplish all the tasks properly. Again, communication is key. Even though this is a virtual job, it is still very important that both sides are well aware of their responsibilities. Not all negotiations are verbal even at a virtual job, a lot of companies offer contracts where all terms and conditions are written and signed by both parties.
How to pay
Since we mentioned that payment is one of the main topics where misunderstandings might occur, it is important to know how to pay your VA. There are different options when it comes to paying VAs starting from checks to wiring a bank transfer but the most common way is to use PayPal. Paypal offers an easy and simple way of making transfers and it is user-friendly. Most importantly, negotiate on the payment method as well as payment schedule in advance to avoid misunderstandings. You can reimburse your virtual assistant hourly or have a fixed price for certain projects or tasks. In addition, you need to organize payment schedules. Some VAs prefer upfront payment and some after the completion of a task or a project. At the end of the day, it is all the subject of negotiation.
Advantages for Virtual Assistants themselves – Why would someone want to become a VA?
Who would not want a flexible schedule where you can plan your day in a way that works best for you? Maybe you are a morning person or a night owl and are more productive either early in the morning or later in the day. If you are a VA you can decide your working hours yourself since you have all the freedom to make this decision.
Another perk of this job is the opportunity to work from home or basically from anywhere where you have a good internet connection. It might be hard to plan a vacation abroad with your friends if you have a regular job. You have to negotiate it first with your boss and with all of your supervisors. You will need to take a paid or unpaid leave, depending on your contract which in most cases involves lots of bureaucracy and in-advance planning. But if you are a VA you can go on a vacation any time and work from anywhere. Dedicate 3-4 hours of work to your tasks and spend the rest of the day wandering around the streets of some tourist city.
That’s not all. It is also a good way of earning extra income and gaining more experience related to work. Let’s say you want to save some money, improve or develop your skills in a specific area. You are not only contributing to the hiring company/person but you are also enlarging your spectrum of knowledge and experience. How many times have you thought of doing something else apart from your full-time job? I am not saying that there is something wrong with the full-time office job but let’s say you want to get experience in other fields, let it be a similar or totally different field. Obviously, you can’t work full-time in both positions and you are forced to make a choice. However, it is much easier to dedicate 3-4 hours a day to some additional job and add the working experience of VA to your list of achievements.
On a different note, working remotely saves you time and money on transportation. You do not have to commute to work every single day. Not to mention the stress of doing your hair in the morning and selecting your daily outfits. All of this can be avoided if you have a remote job. All in all, you are less stressed in the morning and have more time for yourself.
Whether it is stress related to your daily outfit or commute, research conducted by Canada Life Group Insurance in the UK suggests that Workers in cubicles (37%) and open-plan offices (32%) are more regularly affected by workplace stress than those who work from home (17%). Moreover, 77% of employees who are offered flexible working hours might experience improved productivity. This is not all, Nearly half (46%) of employees working from home said that they aren’t negatively affected by issues such as feeling anxious or stressed, tired or ill compared to less than a fifth (18%) of employees working in a cubicle style office and 27% in an open-plan office.
You as a client planning to hire a VA or individual planning to start working as a VA might wonder how much it costs to employ a VA or how much will you earn yourself. There is nothing wrong with it since at the end of the day, we are all concerned about our finances. The salary of a VA depends on many factors, such as years of experience, skills, type of work they are required to do, duration of a project, etc. Even though VA rates vary worldwide, we can have a look at some general trends.
ZipRecruiter which is one of the largest recruitment companies in the US suggests that the average annual salary of a VA working from home is $67,115 a year in the United States as of December 2020. ZipRecruiter also identified the top 5 VA jobs that earn the most in the US. The list looks as follows: physician work from home, full-time work from home, virtual sales manager, virtual engineer, and federal virtual. As for hourly remuneration, the average hourly salary for a Virtual Assistant in the United States is $19.22 an hour. (ziprecruiter). To have a look at the situation in Canada, the average Virtual Assistant salary is $48,000 per year or $24.62 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $34,125 per year while most experienced workers make up to $68,250 per year. (Neuvoo) However, do not forget that the rates vary across countries and it can start as low as 3$ per hour, especially if you hire someone from developing countries. Their rates are considerably lower than in the US, Canada, or many European countries.
Since VA jobs are becoming more and more popular and it is in high demand, people have created different associations with the main goal of supporting VAs. These associations are also focused on increasing the level of trust in the VA industry. The two most active ones are the “Association of Virtual Assistant” and “International Virtual Assistants Association”.
The mission of “Association of Virtual Assistant” (Associationofvas ) is to make the VA industry more trustworthy, promote higher standards, and increased benefits not only for current or future VAs but most importantly for their clients. Through its work, the association tries to address stereotypes about VAs. One of such stereotypes is that it is either risky or unprofessional to hire someone for the job of VA. The digital world around us has proven several times that we should not be afraid of innovations, changes, and developments.
The International Virtual Assistants Association (“IVAA”) is a not-for-profit professional trade association of independent business owners who provide virtual administrative, creative, and/or technical services to a wide array of clientele while working remotely. As the IVAA has outlined, the main goal of the organization is to promote, support, and preserve the integrity of this rapidly growing industry through interactive online programs and one-on-one networking. IVAA is governed by volunteer professionals worldwide who are in practice as mentor virtual assistants and freelancers. ( Ivaa.org)
VA is the profession of the present that best fits the contemporary demands of the job market in the digital world. The universality and comprehension of this position make it attractive to individuals of all backgrounds and companies operating in various sectors. The flexibility of VA’s career makes it attractive for people seeking new opportunities on their path of career development. The biggest advantage of this post for those aspiring to become VAs is that they will be engaged in diverse activities with multiple employers, will have the freedom to plan their day according to their heart’s desire, and manage their time independently without someone’s supervision. On the other hand, employers who are willing to invest their trust and resources in VAs will be benefiting from the omnipotent nature of this position and the practical features one can offer as a VA. Overall, this relatively new position of Virtual Assistant will become more profound over the years and probably will expand the range and complexity of the areas it covers now. Hence, whether you are a future VA or an interested party willing to collaborate with VAs keep in mind that by getting in touch with VAs you are stepping into the future of the digital world.