A virtual office assistant, also referred to as a virtual receptionist, virtual secretary, virtual receptionist, or virtual assistant, is an independent contractor that provides on-site administrative, technical or creative support to clients in a remote workplace. Clients typically hire a virtual office assistant (or VA) when they require administrative assistance but have no staff to do the job. The majority of providers will bill for any services provided, regardless of the source. A VA is an excellent choice for business owners who do not have the available staff or resources to devote to business calls, meetings, or routine tasks. In addition, because of the high-value and low-cost services provided, many businesses choose to use a virtual office assistant instead of hiring additional employees to cover similar positions.
A virtual office assistant can perform many common office duties, such as answering phone calls; scheduling appointments; filing and sending paperwork; drafting documents; greeting customers; greeting clients at the door; maintaining an online database; and handling email correspondence. Many providers offer administrative support as well, such as managing financial obligations and general billing. Many virtual assistants are independent contractors, so you may need to provide your own computer and phone hardware. Typically, all you will pay for is a monthly fee for the use of a virtual office assistant’s workspace.
Since most administrative tasks are performed via telephone, the majority of providers require that you have a working telephone system. In addition, most providers require that you have access to the Internet, depending on the specific service you are using. Virtual office assistants often use a toll-free telephone number that clients can call to reach a live person, or use voice mail to send documents and tasks. Some providers allow you to send fax messages, and some even offer voice mail to employees and clients, with incoming or outgoing text messages.
For your convenience, most virtual office assistants work from their home offices. They do not have to move from their remote location in order to meet with their client, perform administrative tasks, or answer the phone. With a virtual administrative assistant, you are able to have someone virtually close by to assist with any number of tasks. This is convenient, especially for those who may have to travel to a client’s location for meetings or phone calls.
A virtual office assistant provides administrative support, so you are able to focus on the business aspects of your company while receiving professional administrative assistance. There are several benefits to hiring a virtual administrative assistant. First, you will not have to provide your home office with additional equipment. You will not have to rent a separate space, purchase additional furniture, hire additional personnel, or pay for extra utility bills. Additionally, when you hire an administrative assistant, you can schedule a staff meeting at your home office anytime, in order to discuss the bulk of the tasks for the coming week or month. With the busy schedule that many virtual assistants have to keep, this ability to easily schedule face-to-face meetings maximizes the amount of time that you have to spend working on the business aspects of your business.
Many administrative assistants receive extra data entry duties as well. You can use your assistant’s expertise in this area to help with the data entry tasks for your business, as well. In order to take on additional data entry work, you may need to buy office supplies, such as special software programs for making spreadsheets and graphs, data CDs, and printer cartridges. By using a virtual office assistant to take care of these expenses, you can free up some money to invest in the other important aspects of your business.
Another way in which a virtual office assistant can be beneficial to you is that they are often not required to make personal phone calls. Since most companies only require their employees to make phone calls when necessary, you can save a lot of money by outsourcing these types of routine tasks. You may need to provide your office assistant with a toll-free phone number where clients can leave their phone numbers. The assistant will then pass this information along to you. Instead of having to purchase office supplies for each telephone call, you can simply pass this responsibility off to your office assistant.
One of the best ways to find out whether or not you should hire a virtual office assistant for any of your business tasks is to ask yourself what it is that you wish to accomplish with the assistance of this employee. You will likely be able to tell pretty quickly if your needs cannot be fulfilled through the use of a virtual office assistant. If you find that you still need to spend a lot of time on some of your repetitive, monotonous tasks, then it is probably worthwhile for you to use the assistance of this professional. If you find that you do not need the assistance, then it is a good idea to simply hire a small business owner who can take care of these kinds of administrative tasks for you. You may even find that you do not need a virtual office assistant at all! Virtual assistants do offer a great deal of help to small businesses, regardless of what kind of business they are in.