Today the word virtual is used to describe something that does not physically exist. The term is used a lot in technology, for example, virtual servers or virtual reality (VR). However, a virtual assistant (VA) can be someone who physically exists only as they are not present in the workplace. Or a virtual assistant may be a software agent that can perform tasks or services for an individual. These tasks may include scheduling appointments, booking travel arrangements, managing email and social media accounts, and other administrative tasks. Virtual assistants are often powered by artificial intelligence and are designed to make individuals’ lives more efficient and convenient.
Today most businesses consider a virtual assistant a self-employed person or freelancer who works remotely. VAs work with their client’s staff from their own premises, not onsite. You may be wondering if virtual assistants are needed today; now, we have automation of apps and systems that do just about everything to manage business administration.
Not all businesses are early adopters of emerging technologies like AI and automation. Plus, startups that have proliferated may not yet have the time or resources to adopt automation technology. Hiring freelancers like virtual assistants also work for small businesses that don’t want a lot of employees.
Outsourcing administrative work to independent contractors provides flexibility for the business and the freelancers. For example, these workers may be free to accomplish their tasks at their own pace and in their time. Plus, this flexibility of work hours favors the business when it comes to the freelancer’s hourly rate. They may work for a lower fee due to less strict work requirements.
Why Hire A VA?
The main benefit of using a human virtual assistant is flexibility. Many businesses are startups; some will always be sole operators and may not have enough work for a full-time employee. However, even small businesses have peaks when the workload becomes overwhelming, and outsourcing administrative assistant services is the best solution.
Plus, using a VA or freelance admin assistant that can work on an hourly basis is more budget-friendly and productive. Tasks that can be outsourced to a general VA include:
- Email and social media marketing management
- Booking appointments with clients
- Managing calendars
- Research topics for blog posts or articles
- Travel and accommodation bookings
Yes, there is the technology for that, but like with AI writers, it’s currently not considered reliable hence hiring a ‘real’ person virtual assistant makes sense, at least for now.
Hiring a self-employed VA doesn’t need to be longwinded or challenging. Sole operators, startups, and businesses can use job sites or seek the help of a trusted agency like Persona, which hires competent virtual assistants for entrepreneurs.
Will Technology Replace VAs?
If you thought virtual assistants were here today but gone tomorrow due to machine learning and robotics advances, you are right.
The rise of global virtual assistant technology use is impressive. Business Wire say the market for smart intelligent VAs will reach around $25.6 billion by 2025. However, while many of us use Siri on our Apple iPhones, there’s still some way to go before we confidently use AI writers for all content. While early adopters use AI-powered apps to craft messages and book meetings, they also double-check to ensure the task has been done correctly.
If freelancers are not the right way for a startup or small business to grow, they can engage an on-demand or shared services provider for their admin work. In the U.S., a 2015 survey done by Pew Research Center noted that 72 percent of Americans have used some type of shared or on-demand online service.
Hiring On-Demand Service
Another option is finding an on-demand service that can meet your needs. They are called on-demand because they usually provide the service you want whenever you want them. Companies in this category, such as Workfast, offer different services, from groceries and picking up something from a restaurant to providing massage therapists, packing and shipping items to your home, and getting a ride via a taxi or a personal car used in a car-sharing service.
Reports have noted the rapid growth of startups offering on-demand services today. This is attributed to the internet and mobile technologies that have allowed people to get the products and services they want when they most need them.