How Hiring a Virtual Office Manager Can Be Exactly What You Need

There was a time when the office manager was a position tied to the physical location of the office. Office managers would handle everything from bookkeeping to tallying the office supply issues every day—often doing it by hand. 

Those days are over. 

These days, an office management position can be handled virtually. And that’s important for new and growing businesses, as hiring a full-time administrative service manager can cost over $100,000 per year when factoring in retirement, health benefits, and payroll taxes. 

In a position where the median salary is almost $80,000, growing businesses need an affordable alternative to the classic office administrator. They need an office administrator who can provide administrative support from home.

Thankfully, modern virtual technology makes it possible—and economical—to hire an office manager remotely. Hiring a virtual office manager isn’t only more affordable than hiring a full-time manager for your office, but will help provide many of the same services that an on-site office administrator can tackle. Here’s how it works.

In this article:

What You Can Achieve With a Virtual Office ManagerHow to Onboard a Virtual Office ManagerWhat Makes a Successful Virtual Office Manager?How to Start with a Great Virtual Office Manager HireFrequently Asked Questions With Virtual Office Managers

What You Can Achieve With a Virtual Office Manager

As your business grows, you’ll often find yourself in the position of office management. You might do a little bookkeeping yourself. You might pull double duty as human resources. But as the company grows, there’s only so much time you can dedicate to administration.

There’s one other problem. If you manage a growing company, you may not have the resources to dedicate to a full-time, on-site office manager. And if you live in a state where office managers command the highest salaries, it may seem like you’re stuck: you can either continue to handle it yourself—draining time and energy that could be spent growing the business—or you can make a major financial investment.

Hiring a virtual office manager means you can have the best of both worlds: an office manager with flexible pay and hours, but also someone who can take on the duties of an office manager so you’re free to focus on the business.

Young Woman Working as Virtual Office Manager from Home
Young woman working as a virtual office manager from home.

How does it work? Let’s look at a few of the tasks you can achieve with a virtual office manager:

  • Administrative support. How do you define administrative support? The essential function of this role is to make the business run more smoothly, which involves lots of other skills. An administrator needs to be an effective typist, a capable clerk, someone who can handle phones and scheduling, and even take on random data entry tasks.
  • Office supply management. An office needs to stay stocked, especially if you work in an industry like real estate where you’re constantly going through promotional materials. Outsource this work to a virtual office manager and have them research the best prices to keep your office stocked.
  • Time management. Ever feel like managing your schedule is, in itself, a full-time job? Outsource your time management by turning over the calendar management duties to an office manager.
  • Project manager assistance. If you already delegate tasks to a project manager, an office manager can also help support them with administrative tasks, contact management, and follow-ups.

Bookkeeping. Don’t have the resources for a full-time bookkeeper yet? A skilled virtual office manager will have experience with bookkeeping and data entry, helping you to manage expenses.

How to Onboard a Virtual Office Manager

It all sounds great so far. But there’s one obstacle business owners face: they think it will be too hard to onboard a virtual office manager.

The logic makes sense at first glance. If it’s going to take a while to train a full-time, on-site office administrator, won’t it be even more difficult for a virtual office manager who isn’t even there?

You’d be surprised. According to FlexJobs, there’s been a 44% growth in remote work over the last five years and 91% growth in the last ten years. And 85% of businesses report that increasing the amount of remote work has increased their productivity.

But that jump in productivity won't’ happen unless you know how to properly onboard a virtual office manager. Here are some tips for making the transition smooth:

  • Create a formal onboarding plan. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that organizations with a more formal approach to onboarding tend to be more effective than those that keep things informal. That includes an onboarding document to help define the virtual office manager role and how the company operates.
  • Create a flexible time period for adjustment. You wouldn’t expect an on-site office manager to adapt to the way your office works overnight. So why expect it from someone who works from home? Launch the onboarding process with a flexible time period for adjustment. Give the office administrator some time to learn the workflow at your office. When they’ve made that adjustment, that’s when you can start delegating tasks and trust them to complete them accurately and efficiently.
  • Give the virtual office manager full access. One reason a formal onboarding plan tends to be more effective? It lays everything out to the virtual office manager as they integrate themselves into your business. There won’t be the back-and-forth of constantly sending you emails to get set up on your various accounts. If you’re hiring a virtual office manager, you’ll get more for your investment if you can set them up with the appropriate account access as soon as possible.

What Makes a Successful Virtual Office Manager?

It doesn’t hurt to know exactly what you’re looking for in a virtual office manager. If you can clarify the role of a virtual office manager, you’ll know how to identify the skills and experience you need in a candidate.

  • Create a list of office administration tasks that take up most of your time. These should be tasks that you can easily outsource to a virtual assistant or someone working from a home office. For example, if time management or calendar management has been a big issue for you, you might include that on the list. You can then use this list to formulate a clearer picture of what the administration job will look like.
  • Look for someone who has experience in standard office administration tasks. For example, if you have a phone system that you need to outsource to an administrator, try to find someone with specific experience. A virtual office manager who’s worked in a call center before will have the know-how to handle incoming calls.
  • Look at the typical roles of an office assistant, even if you’re not sure whether you require these tasks just yet. Your growing business might look a little different than the next growing business. But there’s a reason that some job postings for office management positions feature similar tasks—it’s what businesses end up needing, even if you’re not quite there yet.

How to Start with a Great Virtual Office Manager Hire

Ideally, hiring your first virtual office manager will be one of those situations where you ask yourself how you ever got by without this individual. But it takes a dedicated approach—one that we’re familiar with here at Delegated. Here’s how we recommend going about your first hire:

  • Sign up with Delegated. The first step is to get signed up! With an account at Delegated, you’ll be able to browse virtual office manager profiles and get a sense of the experience and skills of the remote workers who are out there.
  • Work with our customer success manager. We’re not the type of company to ask you to sign up and then do everything yourself. We know that hiring someone virtually can be a new experience for some people, which is why we’ll set you up with a customer success manager who can guide your steps.
  • Hire your virtual office manager. Working with the customer success manager means you’ll be able to browse through candidates for your job. Try to find an alignment between the candidates’ skills and experience and your own needs. Remember that you’re hiring someone for your business, and your specific needs. You can consult with the customer success manager to make sure you have a field of candidates that make sense.
  • Onboard your new virtual office manager. You’ll recall that businesses with a formal onboarding process tend to perform better with these new hires than those with an informal process. Give your virtual office manager every possible advantage as they transition to your team. It’s then up to them to show you how well they can manage your office, even while working from home.

The overall process will end when you have a virtual office manager that you’re confident in, and they’re slowly adjusting to the way you do things. They may even be able to help you with tasks that you didn’t know you needed—and they can consult with you on ways to streamline various aspects of your office that were inefficient before.

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Frequently Asked Questions With Virtual Office Managers

If you still find yourself a little hesitant about hiring a virtual office manager, here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions:

What exactly does a virtual office manager do?

They keep the office running smoothly. The way they do that depends on the office and its needs, but it’s a task that can include bookkeeping, schedule management, handling and forwarding phone calls, helping with human resources, and even data entry. 

Why do I need a virtual office manager?

It’s a judgment call. But if you’ve noticed that there are certain aspects of running the office that are eating into your day—or the days of your employees—then it might be time to consider a dedicated professional who can handle these task so that you’re free to work on the business that generates the highest returns. 

If you want to free up more time for your business by spending less time on bookkeeping, office supplies, handling phones, and more, it’s a sure sign that you need a virtual office manager.

Why shouldn’t I hire an on-site office manager?

There are plenty of advantages to hiring an on-site office manager. But are you really willing to accept those tradeoffs for the disadvantages? Those disadvantages can include everything from high costs to the investment in the benefits you have to include. In many cases, a growing business doesn’t need to have an on-site office manager, especially given the way technology can step in these days.

Many companies are even fully remote, including widely-known companies like GitHub, Stripe, and Zapier. If it works for them, you might ask yourself if you might see some advantages from a more virtual business environment as well.

What should I include in the on-boarding document?

This will depend on your business and its needs, but generally you should focus on the tasks you believe that the administrator will handle most often. You should also include the necessary information for those tasks, including relevant log-in information, websites to visit, and more. You’ll find that the more you include in your onboarding document, the fewer questions you’ll have to answer later.

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