Virtual Assistants or VAs are a growing industry that provides support to businesses in an online environment. A VA provides administrative support online, or virtually and can provide the flexibility and relief that businesses and teams sometimes need to bring additional value and skills to help businesses grow and succeed.

There are around 1,600 VAs operating in the UK. More and more personal and executive assistants are transitioning from employment positions to business owners. It’s predicted that by 2025 nearly 4 million of the global workforce will work from home, coupled with the growth of the internet and mobile integration into our daily lives, society has moved its work channels from the physical to the digital, erasing the need to have to go to a physical location to support teams.

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As businesses move to online practices, the team needs to be adaptable to new software, systems and information. Often there is a lack of time or skills internally to fully adapt or learn, and this is where bringing in outside support, even for a short time, can be extremely helpful.

The changing perspective of the VA

Traditionally, the scope of administrative business support has been full-time, part-time and temporary (temp) and in the past administrators have not been viewed as experienced consultants.

However, that is changing. Hiring administrative staff via agencies is time consuming, costly and can be unsuccessful as the expectations of support are misaligned with what the business actually requires so getting administrative support, short-term or otherwise, is challenging.

By recognising what specific skill-set is required or missing means businesses can bring in an administrator who has a high-level of proficiency with this skill. Administrators find their talents and work hard at maintaining and growing these. If they don’t know, they will find out and learn (in their own time) to become more proficient.

Solving administrative burdens

Businesses want to save money and therefore it’s common that small businesses will often integrate the administrative support function into another person’s role in order to cover the work. This can cause extra pressure on the team and often the designated person may not have the skills or time to achieve what’s needed.

See also: Should you hire additional staff or outsource the work?

A professional VA will likely start from £25 upwards depending on their level of qualification. Although this may initially be seen as another cost, businesses will be gaining an experienced administrator with training, experience and skills to support, with an expectation of a successful partnership.

VAs are also business owners and are often a valuable investment, if the VA fits with the business and is needed. Many VAs refine their specialism so businesses should consider what skill set is needed (e.g. social media), then look for a VA that supports those requirements. This flexibility is a big plus particularly in rural areas where finding business support can be a challenge.

The benefits of a VA

Businesses do not pay leave, sick pay or equipment for a VA to support them. What is agreed is what is paid. VAs track all time and costs and will report regularly on progress. VAs work remotely, so generally there will not be an expectation to be onsite.

VAs take communication very seriously and use a range of tools to keep in touch with teams. In certain circumstances onsite support will be required if bookkeeping or paperwork needs to be dealt with. VAs will evaluate most efficient, cost-saving options where possible. VAs use time trackers and online tools to maximise their value, often passing this knowledge and information onto businesses.

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Client confidentiality is considered very carefully among the industry and strict protocols are often in place to protect businesses and information. Businesses will have their own procedures and systems and a VA will fit into this structure where possible or may recommend solutions as needed.

VAs can be a very useful support option for businesses and should be given due consideration if time is limited and certain skills are lacking within a business.

To find out more about how to find a VA visit

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