Virtual Office Services... Pay-as-you-go Admin Support

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Paperless & EfficientWith close to 100% internet coverage across the UK and the proliferation of increasingly powerful personal computers, perhaps it’s not surprising that people in secretarial jobs have come to realise that much of their work could easily be done from home.

Some of these have taken the idea further and actually started working for themselves.

Witness the birth of both the VA (Virtual Assistant) and the term Virtual Office Services. It is still predominately the domain of women, with many mums preferring this to working in an office. By equipping themselves at home with a fast internet connection, telephone, PC and printer they can easily provide a basic secretarial service, and they have flexibility in how and when they work.

But who are these people who ask you to trust them with your business admin?

The Virtual Assistant

VAs are a special breed. It’s difficult enough setting up on your own without putting yourself in the firing line with demanding clients. So it’s not surprising that many give up. But those that stick with it are usually professional, resilient, resourceful and capable people who know their job inside out.

However, being a VA brings with it an array of challenges:
  • The Boss is now a “client” ... who can be just as demanding
  • Their IT equipment is now their responsibility to manage and maintain
  • They have to cope working alone and with flexibility comes the need for self-discipline
Most VAs are good communicators and have experience of handling demanding clients, but the conflicting priorities can be a headache and managing client expectations has to be a core skill.

Technology is another matter. VAs need IT support to keep going. This is often provided ad hoc by a partner or a friend, which can leave them vulnerable It’s worth checking out their situation first, so you don’t find yourself stranded. If you need your VA to use your technology – ranging from Microsoft Exchange and Groove to iCAL and other online calendar or file sharing tools – then they’ll need to be IT-savvy enough to cope or have access to more professional support. 

Working alone has its own set of issues. VAs will usually take steps to break their isolation and have moral support close at hand, but being the only person in the business can again leave them vulnerable to workload peaks and illness ... not forgetting, everyone needs a holiday  some time too.

My advice to someone looking for a VA is to ask about these issues and satisfy yourself that the trade-off in risks Vs benefits are acceptable to your business.


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