Over the last rare years, the idea of a virtual assistants (VA) has changed. It has evolved from a purely clerical and admin-based role to a multi-faceted occupation that could involve anything from data analysis, social media management and financial process.
Most businesses have many recurring processes that divert time away from scalability, so VAs are in higher demand.
And there are many advantages of hiring a VA – including increased productivity and efficiency.
Indeed, a study published by Stanford University found that VAs have lower attrition rates. It followed a group of employees working for Ctrip in China.
Researchers divided participants into two groups: one group worked in an office, and the other worked remotely. The study found that 35% of office-based employees that participated in the study left the company, compared to just 17% of virtual workers.
A separate analysis shows that VAs helped save business money and enabled clients to save 78% of their operating costs per year compared to full-time employees. Moreover, 82.5% of virtual assistants spent as much time working as private employees.
Another reason businesses hire VAs is that they often prove t o be much more productive. The same Stanford study also measured productivity. It found that VAs were less likely to take time off sick and, as such, worked out to be 13% more productive.
Curiously, Ctrip – the company analyzed in the study – later allowed all its employees to work remotely – and efficiency spiked by 22%.
There are many reasons why business hire VAs. Whether it’s to wade through all of those boring tax returns or spend hours creating and formatting spreadsheets, VAs are in demand for many reasons.
However, when you get down to the basics, businesses hire VAs for five main reasons:
Finding the right fit can be a long process – almost as long as the normal hiring process. If you’ve read our previous blog, ‘Stop! Read This Before You a Hire a Freelancer, and then you’ll recognize many of the same problems with VAs that you’ll encounter when hiring freelancers.
For example, problems with communication and cultural differences can result in projects not being completed properly. Another concern is that a VA is not invested in your company – and they may very well be working for multiple clients – including potential competitors.
This means that they have less to lose if a project isn’t up to your standards, and they may not be as loyal to your brand as a full-time employee.
Other issues may include VAs that disappear before a project is completed, poor quality work if you hire the wrong VA, security issues and missed deadlines.
According to the Wall Street Journal research, many companies report that projects take longer with virtual workers, while collaboration is more complex and training is often problematic.
Perhaps one of the most significant issues is that many CEOs also hire VAs for sensitive tasks such as purchasing goods online, organizing inboxes, submitting invoices, sorting through essential business papers and submitting documents to third parties.
It only takes one bad apple to misuse or leak sensitive information about either a business or the people that run the business. All of these issues can negate the advantages of hiring a VA.
Maybe it’s time to turn the traditional concept of a VA on its head.
There are near as many diverse types of VAs as there are businesses. The one we’ve dealt with primarily in this article is humankind. But, of course, we don’t want to give (or get) the impression that all human VAs suck.
A great VA can work magic in your business. The problem is that sometimes human nature blocks business progress – even with the best intentions.
But before we get into how to solve that problem, let’s look at some of the different VAs out there.
Her name is Alexa. Or Siri. Or any number of voice-activated assistants that can carry out online tasks, such as basic research, pulling up web pages, phone calls and setting reminders. These modern VAs have become such an indispensable part of our online lives that it is difficult to imagine life without them. The only problem is they are limited in scope, so they can’t help with your data ops or tax returns just yet.
Traditional VAs are the classic assistants often called upon to tackle boring and repetitive admin tasks that eat up time and money.
However, the nature of VAs is constantly evolving, so you will often find that they are usually flexible and will often tackle different tasks outside of their traditional workflows when called upon to do so.
They can be located anywhere and are usually freelancers – in that they may take on multiple clients. However, as we’ve seen, while there are many excellent VAs, finding the perfect match can prove to be a little more challenging.
Nowadays, you can use VAs for almost every business process you can think of. For example, you can hire real estate VAs, social media VAs, VAs for bookkeeping…the list is virtually endless. The advantage of this is that you have someone highly skilled in the specific business process you need. And if you only need assistance with one type of process, then it may be worth investing in a VA specializing in that area. However, if you have multiple projects requiring a range of different skills, you might want to look further afield.
One of the easiest ways to find a VA is to enlist the services of a VA company. This reduces the chances of a VA disappearing without a trace. Nowadays, there are dozens of VA companies, many of which vet their VAs before hiring them.
Some of the more well-known VA companies include Prialto, Work Better Now and Virtual Assistant Talents. However, you will have to bear in mind that many of them offer VAs specializing in a limited range of areas, and not all of them have the technology to automate business processes.
Most of these companies have been around for a while but were not necessarily built to handle the complex business needs of modern marketplaces, tech companies and corporations.
Hybrid work-sharing services, such as Invisible’s one, include elements of BPO, automation, RPA and machine learning (ML). Services take on recurring tasks and automate the workflows that do not need human input. They then deploy human agents to oversee the entire process and inject creativity, skill and insight to complete the tasks that require human information.
The advantage of this model is that clients are not solely reliant on bots or humans but instead get to enjoy the benefits of both working together seamlessly.
Furthermore, rather than relying upon only one skilled VA. What you have is a flexible team that works under the direction of a supervisor to ensure workflows get completed.
This gives businesses the benefit of knowing that the agent’s employe by these works. Companies are strictly vett and that they never have to worry about one VA or agent suddenly abandoning the project.
Clients, therefore. Get what they are after – a flexible team. That has all the advantages of taking one point of contact and combining. The best elements of the VA models are above. But without the adverse side effects.
You may have noticed that both the second and the last options in the above section. Do not quite fit into the traditional understanding of VAs. But actually, that’s the point.
The traditional VA model is fraught with problems with its headaches.
If you are hiring a VA directly. You may encounter the same problems associated with any traditional employee or freelancer hires.
Going through a specialist company mitigates those problems somewhat. But you also want to select a company that is not limite in scope.
A hybrid model that allows you to combine the best elements of BPO. ML, VA and automation are one of the few unique solutions. That can adapt to the complex needs of modern businesses.
Could you make no mistake about it?
VAs can boost productivity, save operational costs and help your business grow.
A hybrid model does not dispense with VAs or the many advantages they give to businesses. Instead, it expands upon the concept of a VA by weeding out. The potential stumbling blocks and using technology to provide enterprises with a competitive edge.
Under such a model. Businesses are serve by an entire team of VAs with different skills. Sets that can help with even the most complex. Recurring tasks that can be delegate.
And work-sharing companies such as Invisible also have agreements to prevent any information from being leak to competitors.
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