Has someone recently suggested hiring a virtual assistant (VA) as a way to grow your business? Have you been wondering if hiring a virtual assistant is right for your company? Maybe you need support with your social media channel. Maybe you have a new client who is adding to the workload. Or maybe some system-related tasks are taking up more time than you want.
Much of this can be remedied by hiring a virtual assistant. Pros and cons of hiring a virtual assistant, though, need to be looked at before making a choice that can affect your business.
Many of the resources available about business process outsourcing (BPO) often only tell you what a VA can do for you without looking at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a virtual assistant. Pros and cons need to be weighed along with knowing what tasks a VA will do.
Let’s take a look at virtual assistant pros and cons to help you decide if hiring a virtual assistant is a good option for your business. We will walk you through:
What tasks a virtual assistant can handle
The advantages of hiring a virtual assistant
The disadvantages of virtual assistants
The best practices for hiring a virtual assistant
Common Tasks Handled by Vas
It is difficult to understand what the virtual assistant pros and cons are without first looking at what tasks and responsibilities can be handled by a VA. The value of a virtual assistant though is not only in what they can do for you, but also how they can free up your time. By covering certain tasks, a VA can give you the opportunity to grow your business.
Advances in technology and communication platforms, which have experienced explosive growth during the pandemic years, have opened up new possibilities for outsourcing certain tasks and responsibilities to virtual assistants in remote locations. With these advancements, VA’s can now cover a range of systems-based responsibilities. These include:
Data entry, including transcription and note-taking
File organization and archiving
Routine client or potential sales follow-ups
Social media management
Email management, including email filtering and answering routine emails
Digital marketing campaigns and ads
Bookkeeping and billing
Lead generation and cold calling
Executive assistant responsibilities
Customer service support
Reviewing and honing in on your processes and procedures can reveal where you need the most support. Hiring a virtual assistant to provide that support can have a positive impact on your company’s growth. Also, having a deeper understanding of your processes can reveal better ways to mitigate the cons and accentuate the pros of hiring a VA.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant: Pros and Cons List
Working with a virtual assistant benefits your bottom line, but it is not the only thing to consider when looking at the pros and cons of virtual assistant outsourcing. The positive impact hiring a virtual assistant can have on your business does not always wipe out potential negative outcomes. This is why understanding both the pros and the cons can help you measure whether hiring a virtual assistant is right for your business or not.
The list includes:
Talent gap fulfillment
Expanded talent pool
Communication, language, and cultural barriers
Time zone delays
Virtual assistants with multiple clients
Let’s dig a little deeper into each item on the virtual assistant pros and cons list.
The Pros of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Productivity is vital to a business’s bottom line because it affects not only the quantity of work completed but also the speed at which it is accomplished. Hiring an experienced virtual assistant to handle time-consuming tasks frees up time for both you and other team members to complete your work more efficiently. This boost in productivity can help set your business up for success. The upward lift in productivity elevates both the quantity and quality of the output.
No one ever feels they have enough hours in the day to complete everything that needs to be done, but that does not mean you need to be overwhelmed all the time either. When you have too much on your plate, nothing gets done well. Chances are you got into your business because you were good at the core of what your business does. The enhanced efficiency provided by a VA allows you more time to delve more deeply into your core, income-generating business and make it better. This allows you to be a stronger problem solver and create more innovative products for your clients.
Periods of intense growth can be difficult for a business to navigate, especially if you have the opportunity to take on new clients, yet have not fully grown your capacity to do so. When your business is in a growth phase, you may need extra support quickly but cannot take on the overhead that comes with hiring and training a new full-time employee. BPO can be the perfect solution to giving your business room to scale up.
Every business has its up-and-down seasons. Some are slower while others are busier. This ebb and flow does not always merit a full-time employee hire. Virtual assistants can be hired to take on an increased workload for a certain period, giving you the flexibility you need. Whether you have a new client with a lot of upfront ideation, a sudden flood of new orders, or one of your team members needs to take an unplanned leave, a virtual assistant can be the proactive solution to your business’s ebb and flow without unduly swelling your overhead expenses.
Hiring a virtual assistant may also give you the flexibility to implement innovative solutions or new initiatives without exploding your bottom line. For example, if you have not had the personnel or resources to implement 24-hour support or processing, then hiring a VA from a different time zone to cover past your business’s 9-5 hours can give you a more affordable way to offer this support to your customers.
Talent Gap Fulfillment
No one is good at everything. You may have an exceptional team working for you. They may be stellar at most roles and responsibilities set before them. Chances are though that there is a gap in one or two areas that need specialized support. This may be writing clear, concise, and timely marketing copy, staying on top of fielding inquiries, customer service support, scheduling maintenance, or generating leads. Hiring a virtual assistant to fill in a specific need can round out your team without having to hire a full-time employee with the added expense of employee benefits, insurance, or extra office equipment.
Expanded Talent Pool
Finding someone to handle the role of day-to-day office management, executive assistant tasks, or digital marketing roles is no longer limited to a local talent pool. With a remote virtual assistant, you can choose to hire from a pool that extends across the world. This can also offer a less expensive option for filling vital roles. Sourcing talent from this global pool is best accomplished through an experienced staffing firm. They can not only assist in accessing talent, but can guide you through the appropriate steps to be successful in using that talent too.
The costs of hiring a virtual assistant compared to the cost of hiring a full-time employee cannot be understated. A remote virtual assistant does not add to space and equipment costs within your headquarters. The costs associated with full-time benefits and support are also reduced when hiring a VA.
The Cons of Virtual Assistants
There are some disadvantages of working with a virtual assistant that cannot be ignored. These cons can be remedied, though, if they are recognized and systems are put into place to overcome them.
Virtual Communication, Language, and Cultural Barriers
No one wants a decrease in output due to a lack of communication and understanding, no matter where your company and workforce are located. Virtual assistants are one-hundred percent remote workers. It is important to establish quality virtual communication channels and platforms to maintain a productive workflow. Setting expectations along with sufficient briefing and training helps with communication as well.
Sourcing global talent can sometimes also come with barriers stemming from cultural differences, language barriers, and differences in how business is conducted. Using a reputable BPO, like Rocket Station, who hires VA’s from the Philippines, where English is an official language and business and popular culture is historically aligned with Western influences can significantly lessen this barrier.
Working across Time Zones
When hiring a virtual assistant, problems may arise if due consideration is not taken to the fact that part of your workforce is on the other side of the world. When it is daytime where you are, it may be nighttime for your VA. The overlap of simultaneous work time for both you and your virtual assistant could be limited. If you hire a VA that is not working the same time zone hours, it may take longer to get updates done. This can be alleviated, though, by working with an outsource company, like Rocket Station, that hires VA’s who work the same time zone hours as your business, no matter where in the world they are located. And, as is always true, no matter the time zone, building deadlines into your processes and procedures and setting turnaround expectations goes a long way. In the end, it isn’t working across time zones that is the problem, but not having a detailed system to deal with it.
Virtual Assistants with Multiple Clients
One of the problems with virtual assistants can be a lack of focus specific to your company’s needs when the VA has multiple clients. Obtaining multiple clients is a way for virtual assistants to make a living, but it is important to recognize that you may not be your VA’s only client. It is also crucial to set clear and concise communication and deadlines, such as turnaround time and set dates for completing work on time. Again, having proper procedures in place goes a long way to mitigating this disadvantage of hiring a virtual assistant. Also, hiring a BPO company, such as Rocket Station, could make sure that your VA is not working with another client and is able to focus their attention on the work they are completing for you.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant: Best Practices
It is clear that there are both advantages and disadvantages of virtual assistants, but many of the cons of hiring a virtual assistant can be alleviated by using best practices for hiring outsourced workers. These best practices fall into the categories of training, procedures, and communication.
Onboarding and Training
To start on the right foot with a VA you need established onboarding procedures and training practices in place. This ensures that your new VA can start understanding your brand voice, your processes and procedures, your company culture, the roles and responsibilities they will be expected to fill, and the business tools you have as soon as possible. This is vital to successfully utilize a virtual assistant for your business needs.
System-based Processes and Procedures
By shoring up and streamlining your processes and procedures you allow your company to fully utilize the skills and talent the virtual assistant you hired has to offer. It also gives you a good picture of what role the VA will play in the overall output of your company. Understanding your process and procedures also makes onboarding and training easier because you know exactly what tasks and responsibilities your newly hired virtual assistant will be performing. You can then give them the tools, procedures, and information necessary to successfully support your business.
It is crucial to establish communication styles and channels from the get-go. Clear and straightforward communication goes a long way in terms of boosting the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant. This is why it is important to define expectations from the beginning and establish a preferred working style, especially when working through language and cultural differences. Utilizing a BPO company, such as Rocket Station, that specializes in making sure your processes and procedures are in place to make the most of their well-trained VA talent pool.
Virtual Assistant Pros and Cons: The Last Word
Many of the virtual assistant pros and cons can be weighed by what benefits you get by hiring a VA and how your operations can be streamlined by those benefits. Most of the cons can be eliminated with careful planning and the use of an outsourcing company to help you mitigate the disadvantages.
Overall, learning how to work with a virtual assistant can give a boost to your business, your bottom line, and your peace of mind.