The Rise of the Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistants may be a new concept to some, others may have heard of them, and the rest already have one!  The idea that the office and indeed employees are located in a specific place is not such a necessity and becoming less important in today’s world.  The rise of Virtual Assistants is becoming increasingly popular thanks to smarter ways of working; numerous mobile devices, faster network access and a growing number of online collaboration tools mean that real offices have few people in them.

Do I need a Virtual Assistant?
This is an important question that requires some thought, but some key questions to ask yourself will help you find the answer.  Are you overwhelmed running your business? Do you find your administrative list becoming bigger and less manageable? Can you grow your business effectively and efficiently on your own? Is your business growing but you don’t have the resources to keep up with the back office administration.  Does the thought of a hiring a Virtual Assistant bring peace of mind that an extra pair of hands would hugely help you?

Determine what a Virtual Assistant can do for you?

Consider all the tasks that you perform in your business. What do you need to take care of yourself and what could you delegate to a Virtual Assistant. What tasks don’t you like doing and what tasks are potentially taking longer than they should because they are not your skilled area?

By analysing the tasks that you carry out on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, you can estimate for how many hours per week or month you might need a Virtual Assistant. With those hours you have gained, what else could you do? You could spend more time developing your business and doing what you do best. Or you may prefer to spend that time with family and friends or pursuing your own personal goals.

Can I afford a Virtual Assistant?
Budget is obviously an important factor when hiring any staff or consultants for your business, so compare the number of hours you have calculated to your available budget. If your budget does not cover the hours you have estimated, you may be able to reduce the hours needed by hiring a VA to do the just most time-consuming tasks, as opposed to all the administrative ones. You might choose to hand over the additional tasks at a later stage.  Be sure to factor in the potential revenue you gain by using those newly available hours to further develop your business.

How much should you pay for a Virtual Assistant?

Like with any service, costs vary as does the quality of the service provided.  There are different fee structures associated with Virtual Assistants, some charge by the hour, some work only on a monthly retainer basis and some will charge appropriate to the project.  A benchmark for a Virtual Assistant rate per hour is between £25 to £40 depending on experience and skill level.

How to find a Virtual Assistant?
The internet and specifically places like LinkedIn and Facebook are good starting points when searching for a VA.  Use search terms such as ‘virtual assistant’, ‘virtual secretary’, ‘virtual administrator’ or ‘virtual personal assistant’ (interchanging ‘virtual’ for ‘remote’ might bring up new search results too).  If you are looking for an assistant based on your location then do specify in your search, but the real advantage of being virtual is that the VA’s are not location dependent.

Additionally, the UK Association of Virtual Assistants has a great website at, which is a one-stop shop for both potential clients and Virtual Assistants.  The site provides an online directory of VAs by country and there is also the added reassurance that each Virtual Assistant listed there agrees to adhere to the Association’s code of conduct.

For those who find the internet impersonal with regards to recruiting, ask friends, family or work colleagues.  You will be surprised that someone will a know Virtual Assistant somewhere!.

The next stage is to make a connection with those that have grabbed your interest. Find out more about the Virtual Assistant, how they work, what their particular skill set is, whether they have a niche market and what their pricing structure is.

If you can, I would recommend having a face-to-face meeting too. Treat the hiring of a Virtual Assistant as you would do hiring a full-time employee, give it the time and consideration it deserves, as this is a very personal decision and it’s important to make the right choice.  One particular Virtual Assistant may be able to do all that you ask from a task-orientated point of view, but your personal styles of working could be vastly different, leading to frustrations further down the line.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is great for any business that does not require a virtual presence to undertake work, and I am convinced that they are the future. Too often we think that full-time physical staffing is our only option, but this is not the case.  Maybe it’s time to think about how a Virtual Assistant could support you?