Australia may be leading the return to the office, but hybrid work is here to stay. And it’s not just the concept of where and how we work that’s been redefined. The pandemic has challenged perceptions of a role many believed could only be performed in-person: the personal or administrative assistant.
The permanence of flexible work and prioritisation of work-life-balance has forced leaders to re-think how they undertake predictable tasks like executive diary management, data entry, travel arrangements and team support duties. According to Deloitte, Australian professionals currently spend 27% of their workday on administrative tasks. For full-time workers, this represents more than one day every week on tasks that are not the most productive use of their time.
No surprise that small businesses and large enterprises are realising greater efficiencies by hiring virtual assistants. Gig marketplace Airtasker saw demand for virtual assistants surge 20 percent in the first half of the year – and by 38 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.
While outsourcing ad-hoc task completion is a handy fix during an unexpected spike in workload, investing in people who align with company culture remains the priority for leaders, according to ConnectOS CEO, Steve Evans.
“Organisations are looking for cost-effective support resources with outstanding communication and administration skills, but often haven’t considered that the role can be performed virtually,” says Steve.
“Managers may have a long list of repetitive daily tasks that are currently spread across multiple employees – who should be focused on higher-level work. Or they might have variable admin workload that varies between two or three days a week. These are both ideal scenarios for hiring an offshore virtual assistant and we’re seeing huge growth in these roles.”
So, what is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a remote employee who provides administrative, creative or technical help. In short, any activities that can be undertaken online or over the phone can be done by a virtual assistant. Job descriptions may include calendar management, data entry, bookkeeping, transcribing videos, travel booking, website updates and general team support.
“The capability and calibre of Manila-based virtual assistants is extremely high, while their cost remains relatively low compared to a traditional full or part-time employee,” explains Steve.
“The virtual assistants we’re placing with global clients have university degrees, extensive work experience, and understand how to work effectively in a remote environment.”
Here are our top three tips when hiring a virtual assistant:
1. Take stock
Make a list of all the repetitive tasks you and/or your team do in a day, a week, a month. Decide what you’re happy to delegate and where low-value activities could be outsourced. You might find you need more help following up clients and suppliers than you do calendar management, which will inform the skillset of the virtual assistant you hire.
2. Right fit
Your virtual assistant may be offshore, but they’re still an extension of your team and company – so the right cultural fit is critical. Will they be working in a dynamic sales environment or supporting a month-end focused finance team? Are they working across the organisation, engaging with other assistants and teams, or primarily supporting one or two individuals? Do they have a customer-first mindset?
3. Take time to build trust
Are you prepared to onboard and train your virtual assistant to do things to your preferences – as you would an in-person assistant? Are you able to make yourself available to answer questions and give guidance, especially during the first eight weeks? They may be virtual, but they can’t read your mind – at least not initially! Taking time to build trust is essential.
ConnectOS is a leading offshore provider for small businesses and large enterprises. Reach out to find out more about how we’re helping companies boost productivity, save time and reduce costs with virtual assistants.