Virtual assistants have become extremely popular in the modern business world as more and more companies seek to outsource their in-house administrative functions in an effort to streamline operations and save money on overall running costs.
Outsourcing an activity is seen as a positive move if it helps to lower costs without negatively affecting turnover because the net effect of such a move is to increase profits. With this in mind, the main focus of your research when evaluating whether a full-time office assistant or a virtual assistant is the best choice for you and your company should be to work out what, if any, negative effects a virtual assistant could have on productivity. In other words, given that the gross cost of a virtual assistant will always be less than that of a full-time in-house assistant, all you really need to determine is whether hiring a virtual assistant will involve any hidden costs to your company in terms of decreased annual turnover.
How a Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Company Money
Although we have already made the assumption that the gross cost of working with a virtual assistant will be less than that of hiring a full-time office worker, we thought we should outline just why this is the case, for those of you who may be unsure of the economic benefits involved.
- Only Pay for the Hours Worked – Unlike a full-time employee, you only have to pay a virtual assistant for the hours they are actually performing work for you every week. If you have nothing for them to do, you do not have to pay them.
- Overseas Workers Earn Less Money – Assuming that your company is based in a fully developed Western country such as Australia, you can be sure that workers in the Phillipines and other countries where virtual assistants are often based are used to earning significantly less than workers in your own country. This means that you can expect them to work for a lower hourly rate than you would have to pay a temporary worker in your home town.
- Highly Motivated Workers – Most virtual assistants from less developed countries see their outsourcing contracts as a chance to display what they can do when given the chance to work with a successful commercial venture. This being the case, their work ethic can be considerably stronger than that of a Western employee in a similar position. Workers who are highly motivated to perform to the best of their abilities are almost always more productive than those who see their job simply as a means to an end: a way to pay the bills.
Determining Whether a Virtual Assistant Will Negatively Affect Productivity
Now that you can see the economic benefits of hiring a virtual assistant as opposed to a full-time office employee, let us take a look at the key question you need to answer before committing to working with an outsourcing expert in an overseas location: will your decision have any negative effect on productivity, and therefore turnover, in the long run? To answer this important question, consider the following points carefully.
- Communication – If a virtual assistant is going to save your company money, you will need to be able to communicate with them quickly and easily whenever you have a task that needs completing. If language or cultural barriers make this impossible, you may need to rethink your strategy and consider a local hire instead. Having said that, it should not be too difficult for you to find a virtual assistant with excellent English skills: as long as your recruitment process is thorough, this will not be an issue.
- Availability – If you are only paying your virtual assistant for the hours they actually work, they may not always be available when you need them most. Virtual assistants who work for hourly rates with no minimum guarantee often have to take on several clients in order to make a decent wage. However, you can easily overcome this problem in most cases by paying the individual in question a small retainer, in return for which they will make themselves available for you whenever you need them.
- Spontaneity – If you are the kind of person who spontaneously jumps from one task to another when working on a particular project, you may find it quite difficult to work with a virtual assistant. Each time that you change tack, you will need to make your assistant aware of this fact, tell them what you would like them to do to assist you in your new task and give them a full briefing to make sure they understand everything that is involved. The only way around this issue for those who do tend to be a little disorganised in their approach to work is to develop the habit of planning ahead. If you are able to plan your working days in advance, you will find it much easier to take advantage of all the benefits a virtual assistant has to offer.
- Time Difference – A big time difference can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it and, most importantly, on how carefully you plan your working days. If you follow the advice in the previous point and plan each day in advance, you will find that your virtual assistant can accomplish a great deal outside of your normal working office hours. If you can harness the power of a big time difference in this way, you can really make outsourcing work for you but if not, you may run into a few issues along the way.
As you can see, there are many reasons that a virtual assistant could be the least expensive option for you and your company to pursue, and only a few reasons this may not be the case. All of the latter can be dealt with by planning your working days a little more carefully so in all probability a virtual assistant will be your most cost effective choice.