With the work/life balance taking centre stage, the flexible revolution is heating up. More people want to work on their own terms, their own way, more of the time. For those who can’t get that level of flexibility from an employer, they go their own way – and many are choosing to go the way of the VA. Have you hired a Virtual Assistant before? Do you outsource to them? If not, why not? The rewards could be quite beneficial, as we learn from Caroline Wylie, founder of the Society of Virtual Assistants.
~ Jo Disney, UK Editor
The Rising Demand for Virtual Assistants Within the Flexible Working Landscape
By Caroline Wylie, Society of Virtual Assistants
The way in which a successful business operates is changing rapidly and within this movement, one word takes centre stage: ‘flexibility’.
The workforce no longer clock in religiously for a nine to five, Monday to Friday; evenings and weekends are utilised, multiple workspaces frequented and smart phones depended upon. It would be foolish for any growing business seeking maximum efficiency to ignore this pattern, in doing so they would overlook the rising demand for virtual assistants (VAs).
The term ‘virtual assistant’ was first used in the UK to refer to a freelance secretary in 1995; things have changed dramatically since then.
Today, a VA is a highly-skilled professional, providing a diverse range of administrative, technical and creative business support services. The VA industry is growing from strength to strength. Rather than hiring full time team members to fulfil a number of job roles, businesses are using VAs to provide a wide skillset, typically on a part-time basis*. It is a cost-effective way of fulfilling a range of roles.
In a recent survey conducted by the Society of Virtual Assistants (SVA), the UK’s largest organisation of VAs, active members were asked what they considered to be the best thing about being a VA. More than fifty per cent of responses to this question included the word “flexibility”.
For the VAs themselves, flexibility is seen to be a huge perk of the job. Not only are a VA’s hours of work flexible but so is their place of work.
Whilst the majority of VAs work from home, a significant amount of VAs enjoy using a shared office or coworking space to conduct their work. Coworking spaces allow for evening and weekend activity and provide a community for independent workers to be become involved in. It is a great alternative for those not suited to working from home.
Business centre opportunities
Business centre operators can benefit hugely by enlisting the help of a VA.
For example, there is no minimum commitment in terms of hours and they only invoice for work completed. Some weeks are incredibly busy, whereas others might only require a few hours of basic administrative work. Client’s needs are met by the same skilled professional each time rather than outsourcing to a pool of freelancers which could potentially jeopardise quality.
There are no recruitment agency fees to cover or HR associated benefits to provide and VAs have a vested interest in the success of your business, so client confidentiality is paramount.
Weekly work for a VA ranges from general admin to bookkeeping, marketing to events; there is no all-encompassing job description. VAs are also starting to take on more social media responsibilities, as businesses are acknowledging the increasing amount of value in digital marketing. To give you an idea of the roles covered by virtual assistants, you can browse an extensive list of UK-based VAs, all approved active SVA members, here.
Further information about virtual assistants is available on the SVA website. A report – UK Virtual Assistant Survey 2013 – is also available to purchase online, here. This survey provides information and statistics about the industry detailing the services provided by VAs, the sectors of work they cover and even their hourly rates.
*According to the most recent SVA survey, 59% of VAs work part-time hours