Hiring a Virtual Personal Assistant: The Hows and Whys

The personal assistant. For many business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, and even freelancers, a personal assistant is an unmistakable sign that they’ve “made it.” They have enough success in their life that they don’t only need someone to help with personal tasks, but they get to outsource some of their least-favorite activities.

There’s only one problem: most personal assistants are costly. 

Enter the virtual personal assistant. As an executive assistant who can work remotely, a VPA is someone who can come in and handle many of your least favorite tasks from the comfort of their own home. They can take on many of the assistant services you typically associate with time-consuming office tasks simply by working through the phone or through the Internet. And as it turns out, this is often a better arrangement than the typical personal assistant. Here’s why.

What You Can Do with a Virtual Personal Assistant

Let’s start by dispelling the myth that virtual assistant services won’t add up to what you can get with a personal assistant. Here are some of the most common tasks you can outsource to someone who’s serving as a personal assistant by working remotely:

  • Personal tasks. Need someone to make a personal appointment over the phone? Need someone to deal with customer support and get a refund? Need someone to take over some of the small tasks of daily life that you’d rather not have to deal with? That’s where a virtual personal assistant can step in and help.
  • Data entry. Data entry can be one of the least favorite tasks of anyone in business for themselves—or anyone in business, period. You can outsource data entry to a virtual personal assistant to ensure that you’re ready to focus on other issues.
  • Online research. Be honest: how much of your time is spent with online research? Whether you’re looking for the best printer to buy or doing research on some great software that can expand your business’s capacity, research can be a challenging-yet-essential part of doing business. A virtual personal assistant can take on your research needs in a hurry and allow you to make management-level decisions in your personal life and your professional one.
  • Calendar management. No matter what your level in business is, everyone can use some additional calendar management. Staying on top of personal appointments and striking a work/life balance is much easier when you have a dedicated assistant with years of experience in calendar management in your corner.
  • Small business odds and ends. Does your business or personal life include a podcast that needs help? Do you hate dealing with customer support? Do you need to expand your capabilities across a new time zone to keep in touch with people who don’t live where you do? Hiring someone who’s much more like a freelancer than a full-time employee is a great way to ensure that you’ll have everything you need to make your daily life as smooth as possible.
  • Taking calls and other personal tasks. A personal assistant can take phone calls for you, place them, and otherwise be your ears to the world while you focus on other things. This is great for anyone who needs to occasionally step away for restful weekends and long-term vacations, keeping you in the loop for emergencies but otherwise separating your time from your work.
Young Professional Businesswoman

What Is Life with a Virtual Personal Assistant Like?

In daydreaming what life might be like with someone else doing those tasks for you, it’s not hard to see how your work life might improve. But let’s take a look at some of the specific scenarios in which a virtual personal assistant will shine: 

  • Eliminating distractions. Let’s say that you no longer want to take on personal tasks like scheduling your own travel arrangements or taking calls without screening. You can create more dedicated work time for yourself by taking on a virtual personal assistant who handles the less-productive (but still essential) tasks of your day.
  • Adding productivity. If you’re constantly attached to the personal tasks that dominate your daily life, you’re not going to be as productive as you otherwise could be. That’s especially true when you consider tasks like data entry, which can eat up a lot of time but don’t allow you to focus on the more important tasks in your day that can improve the way your life runs.
  • Becoming the boss of your own life. Let’s be honest: who wouldn’t like to have an executive assistant? They could outsource just about any aspect of their life and have a go-to whenever they need a question answered. A virtual personal assistant can help fill in these gaps to create a similar effect—for a fraction of the cost.

The Reasons You Should Hire Virtual Assistant Services

Diverse Group of Business People

Already sold on all of the benefits above, but aren’t sure that a virtual assistant can replace or even exceed an in-person, full-time administrative assistant? 

Then let’s look at little more closely at how a virtual assistant works:

The Cost: A Surprising Benefit in Outsourcing Your Administrative Tasks

Hiring a full-time executive personal assistant can be expensive. Between the hours worked, the yearly salary, the benefits, the vacation time, it can add up more quickly than you might imagine. The advantage of a virtual personal assistant? You can essentially have the same experience on a virtual basis without the same full-time commitment when it comes to cost.

Consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 31% of the average pay for average workers goes towards the cost of benefits. That means you’re paying nearly a third of the overall wage towards benefits—not the actual hourly cost of the labor for which you’re paying.

This is all well and good for people with large businesses and large budgets. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to have a great executive assistant experience simply because of the high cost barrier.

In contrast, a virtual assistant will work on an hourly basis. Their freelancer arrangement is straight-forward, which means you don’t have to worry about paying benefits.

Productivity and Why People Like Being Virtual Assistants

It’s not just the rise in demand that’s making people become virtual assistants. A lot of people like the flexible hours that come with being a virtual assistant. They’re allowed to work in the comfort of their own home.

On average, it’s estimated that most workers are only productive for about three hours per day. If you have full-time employees, that means you have to pay a lot of money for those three productive hours—much more than you might imagine that you’re paying.

With a virtual personal assistant, you’ll have a much more direct connection between the hours you pay for and the productivity you see. If you pay for a virtual assistant to do three hours of data entry, you can look at the results of those three hours immediately. There’s no guesswork involved. You’ll be able to see the fruits of your labor and the direct connection between hours paid and work provided.

This is a good arrangement for the assistants, too. They get to have a more flexible work schedule—which often means working from the safety and comfort of their own home. They don’t have to commute to an office in the morning, so they save time every day.

Signing Up and Hiring a Virtual Personal Assistant Today

Already convinced? Here are the basic steps that you can take to hire a virtual assistant of your own:

  • Sign up with us. It won’t take much time at all and it will make every one of the following steps that much easier.
  • Work with a dedicated customer success manager. We don’t just want you to hire any virtual assistant. We want you to hire the right one. That’s why we make sure to match your specific needs with the skills and experience of specific personal assistants from our talent pool.
  • Make the hire. Reviewing the options presented to you, you should try to match your needs with the background of the VPAs you’re considering.
  • Onboard the new personal assistant. You can’t expect someone to understand every need you have overnight, but you can get pretty close with a strong onboarding process. Try to think of the five most important and common tasks you’d like to outsource and include instructions in this onboarding document that tell the VA how you’d like them to be done.

Hire Your Virtual Personal Assistant

Sick of hearing why, and already considering hiring your virtual assistant?
Then let’s cut to the chase.

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FAQ: What You Need to Know About Virtual Personal Assistant Jobs

If you’ve never hired virtual before, then it helps to know answers to some of the most common questions:

What tasks are common for a virtual personal assistant?

The scope is wide, but there are some specific tasks that you might want to think about right away. For example, business owners might turn to a virtual personal assistant to outsource any of the following:

  • Online research
  • Conquering a daily to-do list
  • Data entry
  • Social media management and monitoring
  • Scheduling and travel arrangements
  • Email management
  • Taking/placing phone calls
  • Handling appointments
  • Using common business software
This isn’t to say that you should only outsource these tasks, but it will give you a strong idea of what you can expect when you hire a virtual personal assistant.

Who should hire a virtual personal assistant?

A wide range of people. Are you a freelancer who needs to add to their overall capacity and improve work/life balance? Are you a C-level executive who doesn’t have a full-time assistant? Are you an entrepreneur who’s just starting to branch out by growing their staff? Are you simply someone who doesn’t seem to have enough hours in the day? You’d be surprised at how many of us could use a helping hand in our lives.

How do I make sure my personal assistant knows what to do?

It starts with the hiring process, because you don’t want to hire a virtual assistant who doesn’t have the kind of experience you’re looking for. Working with one of Zirtual’s customer success managers will help ensure that there’s a significant amount of overlap between what you need and what a virtual assistant can provide. Aside from that, make sure that you include an onboarding document that explains your processes. You should also aim at providing detailed feedback, especially in the early stages of your VPA’s time working with you.

What won’t a virtual personal assistant do?

They’re really only limited by their physical proximity—or lack thereof. Someone working virtually can handle anything you need done by phone or computer. And these days, that’s a whole heck of a lot. In some cases, they may even be able to arrange physical things (such as food delivery) if there’s a local provider who can fill in for them.