Over the last year, we’ve noticed an increasing demand for our Virtual Assistant services. That’s where we provide our clients with a PA, or EA, who works remotely, via phone and online communication (hence ‘virtual’), with more flexibility than a full-time office-based employee. It’s also more cost-effective, in most cases.
Up until recently, selling the concept of a virtual assistant to many businesses was occasionally met with resistance. Call it fear of the unknown – as indeed it was, because for many companies it was a progressive and modern concept that they just weren’t ready for.
All that changed with COVID-19.
We’ve now transitioned into an era where working from home is the norm. As a consequence, businesses used to hiring traditional office-based admin have had to reassess how they plan and recruit for these roles. They now frequently refer to “work-from-home PAs” (or EAs) as an integral part of their operation. This is good! It’s giving credibility to something that we’ve been adamant about at PA Business Support since our inception: that remote workers are no less competent, and should be no less valued, than their office-based counterparts. In fact, they come with a number of advantages – but more on that in a bit.
So what does this mean for businesses who have, until now, employed office-based PAs and EAs?
Flexible working and work-life balance are the new priorities
Working from home is known to reduce stress and burnout, resulting in healthier, happier, and ultimately more efficient, employees. Studies have also demonstrated around a 13% increase in productivity. And in terms of employee turnover, remote and flexible working offers a better work-life balance (as we’ve mentioned before, poor work-life balance is regularly identified as the number one factor people stay in, or move between, roles). This is great news for employers!
However, from an employee’s perspective, a work-from-home schedule can be irregular. Home and family commitments often make it near impossible, even undesirable, to work a continuous 8 hours like one would in an office. Employers are realising that they need to be sympathetic and supportive of this, otherwise they are not going to be able to attract the best talent. It’s not just about how the role is structured – a mutual respect and understanding on both sides ensures that the trust between employer and employee forms a strong basis for a productive relationship, and from the employees perspective, generates loyalty to the company. Offering employees the option to be more flexible with their working hours is one way to do this.
Micromanaging is a big no-no
COVID-19 has forced most managers and business leaders to take more of a hands-off approach to managing teams. The work-from-home PA/EA is a consummate self-starter and highly proactive – they do not need to be ‘spoon fed’, and you should steer well clear of anything resembling micromanagement.PA Business Support Virtual Assistants, for example, excel at simply ‘getting it done’ without the need for excessive instruction.
Managers should therefore be looking for ways to structure relationships with their work-from-home PA/EA to accommodate this. For example, how you’ll be communicating, how many times a day, or week, you check in, how to align on priorities and deadlines, etc. It’s all essential pieces of the puzzle. At PA Business Support, we talk all this through with our clients when we provide them with one of our Virtual PAs or EAs, offering advice and processes that we know, from experience, work efficiently and effectively.
Less strings and more options for you as an employer
There are considerable benefits to hiring a freelance work-from-home PA/EA (like one of our Virtual PAs in London):
- First, you have the option to hire them part-time, or via a bucket of hours, which can be much more cost-effective for your business.
- Second, because they are essentially charging for their time, the onus is on them to demonstrate value on an hourly basis. Time is, literally, money.
- Third, you can employ a freelance work-from home PA/EA on a month-by-month basis – great for unpredictable, transitioning, or scaling businesses.
Having built a business optimising the practises and performance of virtual assistants in the UK, we can authoritatively say that the new “work-from-home PA/EA” is going to be a key player in the success of any business in 2021.
PA Business Support Virtual Assistants can be hired for as little as 40 hours a month. Our VAs have been doing the “work-from-home” thing professionally pre-COVID and throughout the lockdowns. They continue to be some of the most highly trained, professional people on the market. So if you want to make sure your business is futureproofed, and that you’re spending your time and budget efficiently, get in touch with us now.