The era of virtual work is upon us, with 78% of CEOs acknowledging the need to view remote collaboration as a means to achieving long-term business success. Today, organizations can find remote workers to fill just about any role within their business, from retrieving information to managing customer service. One especially attractive option for small business owners is to hire a virtual assistant (VA) for routine administrative tasks.
Hiring one of these professionals can benefit your business in many ways. But before you make the decision to bring a virtual administrative assistant on board, it’s best to understand what they do, their potential benefits, and how you can best utilize them.
Keep reading to learn more!
What Is a Virtual Administrative Assistant?
A virtual administrative assistant is an independent professional who provides general administrative support to clients and their companies from a remote location.
Similar to a traditional office manager, these virtual assistants are hired to tackle routine tasks and administrative duties that help a business run smoothly, such as:
- Scheduling and calendar management
- Email and inbox management
- Data entry and database management
- Organizing and optimizing your to-do list
- Managing inventory of office supplies and equipment
- Planning travel arrangements
- Organizing reports and documents
- Expenses and invoicing
- Managing customer service requests
- Checking voicemail and returning phone calls
To find out just how many of your general administrative tasks can be handled by virtual assistants, enter them into our free to-do list optimizer tool.
What Are The Benefits Of Working With Virtual Assistants?
Leveraging the services of a virtual assistant can benefit your organization in many ways. Here are some of the main ones.
Reclaim Valuable Time
The most vital asset for any business owner is their time, and it's crucial to spend it on the most important tasks that will yield the greatest return.
It is thought that most entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time (around 68% of their working hours, on average) on routine tasks that often need to be repeated on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.
Whether it's creating expense reports, formatting documents, or simply replying to emails, these sorts of tasks can make us feel like we're being productive but, let's be honest, they don’t accomplish much in terms of taking our businesses to the next level. And the more time we spend on these low-level, recurring administrative tasks, the less time we have to spend on the high-impact tasks that will take us further.
If you were to hand over just one hour of low-value administrative tasks every working day for a year, you would ultimately reclaim the equivalent of 29.5 eight-hour workdays, or just under six whole working weeks. Having the time to effectively plan and strategize about how you’re going to grow your company, plus having sufficient time to put your ideas into action, is what makes it possible to achieve more in less time and make real progress toward your goals.
Reduce Overhead Costs
It's not just time that you save with virtual admin assistants, but money, too.
- Average annual cost of a virtual administrative assistant: $7,224
- Average annual salary of an experienced administrative assistant: $41,908
- Average annual salary of a CEO's executive assistant: $66,838
And the savings usually don't just end there. Unlike an in-house, full-time employee, you don’t have to worry about any costs associated with recruitment, health insurance, vacation days, office space and equipment, or any other employee benefits or resources.
The money you save can be reinvested into other areas of your business. Just think of what could be possible with the help of that extra budget...
Bridge Skills Gaps And Strengthen Your Team
No matter how hard we might try to be a Jack of all trades in our business, there are always going to be some things that we’ll naturally be more adept at than others. When it comes to the tasks that you don't excel at, you're almost always guaranteed to get better results when they're handled by someone more skilled or knowledgeable in that area.
Most small businesses are familiar with the hassle of finding the right candidate to fill a particular role in your team. Turning online can offer an effective solution to this problem, given how wide of a talent pool there is in the virtual space.
Not only that, the knowledge and wisdom gained by working with numerous different companies within various industries can make a virtual administrative assistant an invaluable asset to have on your side. Tapping into these insights can help you refine your existing processes and strategies for even greater success.
A Healthier, More Flexible Work Environment
Virtual assistants are remote workers who don't need to be physically present in any office setting. This means that small businesses can have the freedom to operate from anywhere, allowing team members to have a more flexible and balanced life.
Experts agree that the quality of your work-life balance affects the quality of your performance at work. Poor work-life balance often results in higher stress levels, increased absenteeism from work, and lower productivity. Not only that, research has shown that the higher your position or involvement with your company, the more the lines between work and home are likely to be blurred, putting business owners in the top-risk category for poor work-life balance.
In addition, having a virtual assistant can be a lifesaver for business owners who have other important commitments outside of work, such as family or hobbies. It gives them the peace of mind that someone reliable is taking care of the day-to-day tasks, allowing them to give their other priorities the focus and attention they deserve.
5 Steps For Successfully Hiring A Virtual Administrative Assistant
Hiring a virtual administrative assistant can be a great decision for any business owner or entrepreneur, but figuring out the ins and outs of successfully adding one to your team can be a chore you neither want nor need. But when you get it right, it's hugely beneficial to everyone involved.
1. Choose The Right Tasks
When it comes to saving the most time and doing more each day, we need to be strategic.
Start by writing down all the administrative tasks that are currently on your plate, preferably on a daily basis. Go down your list and ask yourself the following questions for each task:
- Is your expertise specifically required, or could anyone do it with the right instructions?
- Does it suck away your time without a sufficient return on investment?
- Is it important but you often put it off because you don’t enjoy doing it?
- Is it often neglected because it’s a low priority compared to your other tasks?
If it ticks those boxes, you should consider offloading it.
2. Document The Task Process
Once you’ve narrowed down what you would like to hand off to an assistant, consider what is needed to complete it.
Would your assistant need any log-in details? Which software or programs should they use?
Taking the time to create instructions or guidelines is absolutely vital. Not only will it help your assistant complete the task successfully, but it will also save you some time down the line. You won’t need to repeat your instructions over and over again if your assistant can consult your task guide whenever they need it.
It doesn’t need to be in long, chunky paragraphs that span multiple pages. Clear, easily digestible bullet points will do the trick. If you can, it’s worth testing the instructions before with a colleague who has never done the work before to ensure that they are clear and understandable.
See: Five Essential Tech Tips For Getting Started With A Virtual Assistant
3. Be Open And Available
A common misconception when bringing a remote team member on board is that because you’re unlikely to ever meet them in person and they'll spend fewer hours working for you compared to a full-time employee, not as much care and attention needs to be paid during the initial onboarding process.
Just like any other hire, you'll need to be there for your assistant in the early stages of the process. Although they'll come equipped with plenty of professional experience, it's still likely that your virtual administrative assistant will need to ask you questions and double-check details to make sure they’re on the right track. And no matter how well-prepared we are, things can always come up that are not covered in any sort of guide or instruction, so it's vital to be available and ready to provide support and clarification as needed.
Many people struggle with this step as it can be difficult to put into practice when you’re already juggling a million other responsibilities, but it is an absolute must if you want to see the best results from your experience.
4. Establish Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations for your virtual administrative assistant from the start enables them to understand exactly what you need and how you need it done.
Make sure to be specific about desired outcomes (e.g. specific deliverables), deadlines, preferred methods of communication, and any other details that are important to you.
5. Provide Feedback and Appreciation
Giving your virtual administrative assistant constructive feedback on their work and showing appreciation for the tasks they have handled helps them feel valued and appreciated. It helps motivate them to do better in future projects and strengthens the relationship between the two of you over time.
When giving feedback, make sure to be clear, concise, and specific so that they can make the necessary adjustments quickly and easily.
What's The Bottom Line?
Virtual administrative assistants are a great way for businesses of any size to save time, boost productivity, and achieve more. They can easily be hired at affordable rates and provide the same level of high-quality service as traditional employees without the extra costs and hassle.
With their help, you can start to focus on more important projects without worrying about mundane administrative tasks that can be handled more efficiently in their capable hands.
If you're ready to take back control of your time and unlock the full potential of your business, speak to our expert team to get started with a virtual administrative assistant. We’ll set you up with a dedicated professional based on the skills and experience you need.
Or try us out for free today!