Movies and TV shows from the likes of Devil Wears Prada to Rules of Engagement make us laugh and feel sorry for the personal assistants. Their lives are consumed by ego-maniacal tyrants paying them no more than a couple of funny pennies per hour. Luckily, apart from the odd unfortunate exception, the reality is much different. Yes, sometimes personal assistants are asked to do menial tasks ranging from the humiliating to the humdrum, and they are often asked to be on duty round the clock, but it usually pays off in more ways than one.
Return on investment is the very close cousin of cost-benefit, but in this case, I will apply it in a strictly financial sense, and use my real-life work as an example. My personal assistant, whose name is Eric, does a lot of research, logistics, and planning for me as a journalist. Because he expands my efficiency, I’m free to take on more assignments and make more money. I would estimate that for the $50 investment I make for each week I hire him out, I make twice as much money minimum because of his help. So if I pocket $100 I wouldn’t otherwise make, and pay him $50, the return on investment is $50. Makes sense? (By the way, that’s during a slow week. Sometimes the return on investment is two or three times as much.)
Small-business owners often struggle to fulfill all their duties but are wary of taking on a partner or hiring a management team because they want to maintain the integrity of their vision or stay in complete control. If that sounds like you, you can bring your business to the next level without too much compromise or cost by hiring a personal assistant.
Engaging Virtual Meetings: If you’re interested in learning the skills needed to host and facilitate successful virtual meetings, you will find this program useful. It covers the four fundamental skills of virtual facilitation, information on how to properly prepare for meetings, and how to properly prepare for future meetings. The program was created for business professionals of any level.
Employee engagement and motivation. Consider giving remote and office workers surveys to see who is more engaged and motivated overall. Ask questions about how they feel coming to work every day, find out whether they’re inspired at work and ask if they think their role within the company is important. Ask specific questions about whether or not they feel included in group decisions and ask if they feel as though their needs and concerns are considered and addressed.

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Over the past decade, a rising number of young professionals, primarily from the United States and Europe, have leveraged the use of technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.

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All businesses accept that when starting out they will at some point require additional support. Most often the first consideration is employment of additional staff. Although this can often be daunting especially with all the red tape surrounding employment and legal requirements. More expense can also be driven into the business with a need for larger office space, equipment such as computers, phone lines etc. This is all before the employee has even started. New staff can also mean re-focusing time and effort inwards rather than developing the business and potentially decreasing revenue at a time when increases are most needed.

Increased productivity comes naturally when your employees do not have to travel to work each day. Working from home will allow them to log on and off at a designated time and work from the comfort of their homely atmosphere. Apart from flexibility in working hours, there will be no distractions that are usually associated with working in an office environment, with the help of virtual team tools.
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There’s an obvious appeal that comes to mind when you first think about telecommuting. Many global companies — including Aperian Global — allow employees to telecommute. The benefits of a remote workforce stem from allowing employees to spend more time in their comfort zones, but does it always lead to increased productivity? Most recent studies point to “yes,” but there are many considerations to make when deciding if telecommuting is right for you or your company.
“If the employer and the client are not comfortable conversing in the same spoken language, it is almost guaranteed that the project will cost more money and be delayed. When dealing with a client or employer that does not have the competence of a native speaker in your language you must specify exactly what you need, as if you were talking to a child or machine. Most of the horror stories you see on sites like TDWTF are results of poor communication, not incompetence or malice.” (source)

Even if you can do all the administrative work yourself, why should you? The one hour a day you spend running to the post office, balancing the checkbook, or booking airline tickets would be better spent calling prospects, learning, or thinking strategically. Always try to spend as much time as possible using your unique strengths on your highest leverage activities. Running out to Staples to buy printer paper probably doesn’t fall into that category.


The Joanna Gray Agency has been placing personal assistants for high-powered corporate executives, wealthy estate owners, and well-known celebrities for more than a decade. If you’d like to discuss your needs for a candidate for this position or similar domestic help positions, please contact owner, Joanna Gray, at the Joanna Gray Agency for the personal touch you’ve been seeking. Joanna will make sure your assistant matches your needs perfectly.

Make a list of tasks that will make up the job. Common tasks, such as running errands, data entry and answering telephones should not raise a personal assistant's pay. More challenging tasks, particularly those that are specialized, such as requiring your assistant to speak a second language, complete payroll for other staff members or travel for a long period of time, should be adequately compensated by raising the salary and offering a travel allowance. Also consider the time commitments of the job description. A personal assistant that works a standard business week may not make as much money as one who is on call or required to travel.
Trouble separating work from home. When you work from home, it’s easy to become distracted by your children, neighbors, friends, or home responsibilities. Because you’re home, you’ll be more aware of things that need to be done around the house. In addition, those who work from home often have a hard time transitioning from work life to home life. With constant access to their work while at home, it can be hard to stop working for the day, especially when there’s a lot to accomplish.
Often, the challenge for startups and other small companies is having the resources to hire an employee with as much of this expertise as possible at the lowest possible investment. Finding all of this in one individual at the experience level required can be daunting. The virtual team can provide the answer in fields such as human resources, finance and marketing.
Employees from the younger generations of workers--Generation X and Generation Y, in particular--find virtual work a tremendous benefit. Virtual offices and telecommuting offer flexibility, and the comfort of being able to work independently without conforming to work rules, such as a dress code and traditional work hours. Telecommuting is appealing to some workers because it prevents the often unnecessary and unwelcome interruptions by co-workers and managers that can impede productivity and attentiveness.
We've had some very key members of the team wish to move to other locations in the world or country. In one instance, a person's spouse was given a great opportunity in a new location, and the family needed to move to support the opportunity. When someone plans on leaving, a lot of knowledge and investment leaves with them. A remote/work-from-home policy helps resolve this problem. - John Winter, Content Bloom

Another great perk about this profession is that according to some of the most high-earning personal assistants in the world, you don’t even need a college education to excel in it. Apparently, all you really need is thick skin, discretion, dependability, resourcefulness and the ability to use your initiative. Being naturally empathic, flexible and having some administrative skills won't hurt either.
If you train your personal assistant well, you can develop a trusting relationship that can blossom into a long-term partnership. A good personal assistant eventually will learn the nuances of your business, as well as your dreams, aspirations and mental processes. He'll be able to anticipate your needs and those of the business. A trustworthy assistant can become a sounding board for your ideas and offer you insights you had not considered. The perspective can be refreshing and spark ideas or approaches that were invisible to you. A close, personal assistant can give honest, frank feedback that others might be reluctant to give.
In the world of business, expeditiousness is the key to staying ahead of the competition. This rule applies to everything from manufacturing to training. In respect to swift training for HR departments, virtual training capabilities are giving businesses the advantage. Through the use of training portals and classrooms, your HR struggles of maintaining efficiency with employee training are dissolved.
Online Research:You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Be sure to send clear instructions, along with user names and passwords so assistants can get access to specialty search tools or paid websites.  
A recent study on “the state of remote work” by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that remote employees have “slightly higher levels of investment in their work,” and benefit from “clearer boundaries and work habits” needed to be successful. The data, based on responses from 1,097 workers across the U.S., reinforces findings from previous research showing that people who work from home are fully engaged with fellow team members, and often are more productive.

I doubt many companies like or prefer that employees work from home. We allow the policy in order to be able to attract employees who would otherwise go elsewhere. We are heavy users of Slack, Confluence and other collaboration tools that make working at home more productive, but they cannot replace the serendipitous interactions that occur while hanging out by the nitro-coffee keg. - Manuel Vellon, Level 11
Try to get together in person at least once a year. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert brings his team together annually for a strategic planning meeting. They spend two days working and two days hanging out and getting to know each other. Zapier brings their distributed team together for regular team retreats where cooking, games, and lots of other team-building activities are involved.

Virtual workplaces also provides the company a bigger pool of resources, since it allows them to choose the best and most capable employees for the job, regardless of their location. This is definitely an advantage in information technology and computer science, where some positions require very specific skills sets and experiences that may be difficult to find locally
Eliminate email (almost). Hubstaff takes a stronger view on this, with our team avoiding most email like the plague. However, I’ve found that the occasional email is sometimes necessary. Lean towards project management tools like Basecamp and Redbooth, which allow you to keep track of what everyone says in one place. Most PM software also allows you to organize projects and store files, create checklists, and assign due dates for clear expectations.
Employer Trust - Another main factor that can negatively affect working remotely is the trust employers have in employees to get jobs done from home. For both parties to get the most benefit from a virtual work environment, there must be mutual trust between employer and employee. A worker must continue to complete assignments as required. You should be able to monitor this fairly easily based on the productivity of each employee working from home.
Employees who have virtual offices or telecommute work more hours than their office counterparts. People who work in a virtual office can often blur the difference between home life and work life. Unlike employees who can leave work at the office, employees with virtual offices tend to continue to work outside of "normal" work hours. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 50% to 67% of telecommuting hours push the employee’s over 40 hours a week.4 Some reasons for these additional hours could be the employees’ desire to justify their telecommuting by being more productive and continuing to work beyond business hours or a result of companies maximizing their salaried employees by providing them with virtual offices to be able to continue work outside the office.

I am 63 and currently working as a remote Virtual Assistant. It requires self discipline, integrity and accountability. If you have these qualities, the benefits are awesome – I have never been happier! Better work-life balance, increased productivity, less stress and no commuting. Technology is not only for the millenials, but for silver surfers too.
One of the problems I have come across with remote employees is communication. Being able to discuss ideas on a common whiteboard or screen is more effective in person, as you can gauge reactions and tailor the discussion when you are able to see the whole person. Also, remote employees often have flexible hours that can lead to scheduling issues and make spontaneous communications problematic. - Chris Kirby, Voices.com
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Keep your antivirus updated, and only install one. Although installing multiple antivirus software may seem safer than just having one, they may interfere with each other. Stick to one good provider, keep the software updated, and run daily scans. It also helps to turn browsing protection on. I’ve been using AVG since 2008 and it’s worked like a charm.

Employees who have virtual offices or telecommute work more hours than their office counterparts. People who work in a virtual office can often blur the difference between home life and work life. Unlike employees who can leave work at the office, employees with virtual offices tend to continue to work outside of "normal" work hours. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 50% to 67% of telecommuting hours push the employee’s over 40 hours a week.4 Some reasons for these additional hours could be the employees’ desire to justify their telecommuting by being more productive and continuing to work beyond business hours or a result of companies maximizing their salaried employees by providing them with virtual offices to be able to continue work outside the office.
Virtual collaboration offers a profound way to cater to employees with diverse working styles. For example, detailed-driven workers tend to excel in virtual environments. They typically have no trouble planning their workday and accomplishing daily tasks. Emotionally driven individuals may prefer to speak directly over the phone or face-to-face in a video conference, because they typically read social cues very well and prefer verbal communication. Idea-driven workers thrive when facilitating change and usually prefer a lead role in brainstorming solutions, so you should consider giving them more responsibility when strategizing in the virtual setting. Data-driven workers are highly adept at solving complex problems. They don’t typically need an extra push to stay on topic or on budget, but they may prefer to work alone quietly rather than lead a virtual group discussion.
In a world that is constantly on the move, the concept of “office” appears to be best left behind in the 20th century. With the rise of cloud technology and the increased need for people to stay mobile, the idea of going to an office seems to be fading away fast. As a company owner, there's no more need to spend thousands of dollars on renting an office space and managing an in-house team.
Communication is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of business, especially with virtual employees and members spread across all of Indiana. Managing Virtual Teams (MVT) provided workable solutions that could be implemented right away for long term success. I went into the course hoping to grab a few tips and tricks but instead experienced a hands-on workshop that was tailored to my organization's needs. Not only was the course helpful, it was inspiring and gave me a new vision for my organization's communication future.

Invest in communication structures. Despite added expenses of PM fees, software, virtual insurance, VPNs, etc., companies can stand to save a lot on the overhead costs of running an office. No rentals, no electricity bills, and no more perpetually purchasing office supplies. Use those savings to invest in online communication ecosystems. Teleport has a few great blog posts for communication in remote teams.
Leading Across Distance: This program is designed to provide leaders with the tools they need to propel results from their virtual teams. The program is broken up into three sessions: distance leadership, leading across cultural differences, and engaging virtual meetings. You will learn what you need to know about the most important aspects of distance leadership, how to effectively communicate in the virtual setting, how to leverage diversity and cultural differences, and more.
Customer Service Representative – For a busy entrepreneur, customer service is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can forward calls to your virtual assistant, and they can become a virtual call center designated specifically for your business. With the enhancement of technology, there are companies such as Ring Central that make this an easy option for small businesses. Additionally, the virtual assistant can handle any follow-up calls as needed.

Leverage Global Talent - Virtual Teams allows organizations to look for talent beyond their country of origin. This brings together the experts and specialists from across the globe to work together on the project. Increased knowledge sharing and greater innovation happens as organization’s human capital share their understanding of global and local markets as well as best business practices.
If I ask Eric to perform research, I give him all the tools and instructions he needs to do a great job. Yes, that takes time, but it’s minimal compared to the amount of time he saves me. What’s more, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to “do this” if you don’t at least tell them how you want it done. It’s like sending someone for coffee and not telling them what you want in it. (Note: I’ve never once sent a personal assistant for coffee, though I’ll get coffee for him. It reinforces the humility aspect of things.)
Over the past decade, a rising number of young professionals, primarily from the United States and Europe, have leveraged the use of technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.

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