Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.

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Virtual teams are on the rise. Due to technological advancements, it’s possible for workers to work from home and for their managers to ensure that work is done on time and to the highest standard. Benefits that go beyond cost savings, like boosted productivity and employee satisfaction, mean that remote team collaboration is not only good for business, but good for employees too.
It doesn't matter if you are running a lean start-up or a long-running profitable business. You always have the chance of enjoying the benefits of virtual teams. When you have a virtual team, you not only see less staffing costs, but also profit from a workforce that is highly motivated and productive. Confused if this decision would prove to be right for you? Don't worry. Here are some reasons for you to consider setting up a virtual team.
Reduced Time to Market - Since the members span the time zones, there could be different team working on the same project 24*7, so when one member sleeps there will be another one somewhere else who would start work where the former had left. This shortens the product development time as well as faster response time to demands in both global and local markets.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time since the turn of the century. According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home. Steadily increasing life expectancies and inadequate retirement savings have forced many Americans in this age group to delay retirement. Others choose to work into their 70s and beyond to stay active and engaged in their communities.

Social Media Assistant – Handling social media for businesses can become time consuming for business owners and other staff. This is time that can be spent on other revenue-generating tasks. However, because of its importance in a business’s marketing plan, it can be delegated to a virtual assistant. According to Chris Ducker, every business should have a social media plan .  And this is an area where a virtual assistant can help out. A virtual assistant can plan and schedule your social media marketing on your Facebook business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google pages as well as on any other social media site that you use. They can research content, monitor and engage the users, and assist in building your network. This is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant, as most business spend anywhere from five to 20 plus hours per week on social media.


Any kind of process will have its own pros and cons. Similarly, virtual office workers also come with their own advantages and disadvantages but it is up to the bosses and the organization to create a leverage and work on the cons and try to enhance the pros, so that the resultant workforce remains satisfied, stress free and the working environment is transformed into a fruitful one.
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.  
They’re more work to manage and have a time overhead compared to someone at the office is a big part. It’s also easy to forget and ignore remote workers and it can be harder to evaluate their productivity. A culture that has a mix of remote and non-remote has the remotes pretty isolated as the normal way of communicating things has them left out. (source)
If you truly desire your company to go global, then it must be online all hours of the day. If speed is of the essence of your business, you can capitalize different time zones by delegating work according to individual time zones. When you have a business that is ready to serve customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it won't take long for you to expand.
When you hire locally, there is no choice but to live with the restrictions that come from having a small talent pool. You only get access to a certain amount of potential employees in your own city that may or may not have experience in your work area. However, one of the virtual team benefits is that going virtual will give you the power to hire people from all around the globe.
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.
Have a culture of transparency. This allows everyone to get a good grasp of each other’s tasks and responsibilities, which encourages good expectations accountability. It could be as simple as sending a weekly report to a shared channel, or keeping all of the projects in your PM tool viewable for all employees, so they can see what’s going on within the company. If you want to take it a step further, consider revenue transparency or public salaries.
Managing email: To keep you from wasting time in your email inbox, some virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely, but you need to provide guidance on how to pick out key emails and ask the assistant to copy you before sending out any responses to reduce the risk of errors.
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.
No business is too big or small to use a PA, and with recent technological development with the internet, the new era of PA’s has come in the form of virtual assistants. Virtual assistants work remotely from their own home but undertake the same duties a normal PA would, and this can offer a cost effective alternative for smaller business who need help. So, what does a PA do?  Some of the duties a personal assistant may undertake include email and calendar management, organising transportation, call handling, research and event planning.  As an independent contractor, you might also use a PA for basic bookkeeping and invoicing your clients.  If you are trying to build an online personal brand, PA’s can also help with managing your social media profiles.

Collaboration is an important factor in teamwork in the workplace and also still possible for remote workers! Collaboration tools for virtual teams are plentiful and have many different uses. There are many that allow instant and clear communication among remote team workers, such as Slack for instant text-based communication or Zoom for easy conference calling. Other helpful applications include Github, a smart software development tool, and World Time Buddy, that allows you to sync up the different locations of team members to find a time that everyone can meet!
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.

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.
Many strategies that worked for managers in the past will be impossible with a remote team. No more getting the team together after lunch for a project post-mortem, no more doing walkarounds to make sure everyone is working, and no more being able to visit someone’s desk and demand their attention. Remote work could make much of traditional management practices useless.
Increased productivity. Virtual collaboration tools allow remote employees to collaborate as if they’re in the same conference room. Employees can use forms of virtual communication in the workplace, such as video conferencing, as well as email, instant messages, and the telephone. Workers are more likely to work in excess of 40 hours a week if they’re working from home, and they also take fewer sick days. Employees working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they’re able to collaborate from home. Business hours increase with more flexibility. Furthermore, business will continue as usual regardless of weather conditions that could limit productivity due to hazardous driving conditions.
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
Instead of taking the mediocre candidate in your area, you can hire the superstar who lives on the other side of the country. Limiting yourself to hiring within your locality restricts you to a small talent pool. You may be forced to settle for mediocre talent simply because you need the position filled. Companies that hire remote workers have a larger pool of top-notch talent. - Eilon Reshef, Gong.io
Having a flexible schedule increases the morale of employees and gives them a sense of freedom and agency in their lives that going into a physical office often does not permit. The sense of boosted morale also increases productivity in virtual employees. Responsibility for the work that must be accomplished changes hands from the supervisors who watch over the office to make sure employees are doing their job and arriving on time to the employees, who must meet goals and expectations on their own.

Many small-business owners wish they could clone themselves or have more time in the day to do their work, because they want things done a specific way. You can train your personal assistant to do tasks exactly the way you want them done. Over time, your personal assistant will get a feel for the way you do things and automatically sync with your style. By developing a relationship with a personal assistant, you’ll begin to trust that your assistant understands your perspective and motivation. An effective and well-trained assistant is the closest you can get to cloning yourself.


Valuable Skill Set – Virtual assistants are highly skilled independent contractors, including administrative assistants, website administrators, and senior level executives, all of whom have had a broad range of experience. Most virtual assistants work in a specific niche, meaning they’ll understand your industry better than someone who doesn’t focus on a particular niche.
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and Business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.
They’re more work to manage and have a time overhead compared to someone at the office is a big part. It’s also easy to forget and ignore remote workers and it can be harder to evaluate their productivity. A culture that has a mix of remote and non-remote has the remotes pretty isolated as the normal way of communicating things has them left out. (source)
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.
Before I tell you about my personal assistant, why I have one, and the financial benefits of hiring one, I’m going to give you permission to make fun of me. That’s right: Assume his name is Jeeves or Alfred, that I ask him to wash out my dirty socks and filet my pheasant under glass. And since I can’t live in a palatial estate just yet, you can also assume I’m acting out some self-indulgent fantasy of being rich and important, even though you know, natch, that I’m neither one of those things.
Of course, there are certain things you shouldn’t outsource or delegate, and not just regarding your workday. Billionaire Mark Cuban revealed on TV show Shark Tank that he still washes his own laundry. I do, too. It would be easy for me to have someone stop in each week to do my laundry or to drop it at the dry cleaning place—but I find it grounding somehow to do my own laundry.
Increased productivity. Virtual collaboration tools allow remote employees to collaborate as if they’re in the same conference room. Employees can use forms of virtual communication in the workplace, such as video conferencing, as well as email, instant messages, and the telephone. Workers are more likely to work in excess of 40 hours a week if they’re working from home, and they also take fewer sick days. Employees working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they’re able to collaborate from home. Business hours increase with more flexibility. Furthermore, business will continue as usual regardless of weather conditions that could limit productivity due to hazardous driving conditions.
Ten years ago, I felt dubious when a mentor told me to hire a personal assistant. Now I can’t imagine myself getting the job done without one, and at times, I’ve even used two to handle vastly different tasks. You may think, “Why not hire a college intern for free?” I’ve had those, too, but here’s a friendly warning: Internships should always be conducted in conjunction with a college program that offers credit, and you have to spend time supervising the person on a documented learning journey that takes them from point A to B. So if you’re looking for free help from a college student, and falsely labeling it an “internship,” you could get both yourself and the student in big trouble. Plus, it’s sleazy.

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.
Save on Office Space – Since the contractor is virtual, they work off site. This allows you to save on expenses such as ordering a new desk and purchasing a computer. As a matter of fact, they use their own resources. So you save on the space that a new employee would incur. This is a win particularly if you happen to work remotely or independently yourself. You can work remotely and at the same time have the additional assistance you need.

Cost savings - The biggest advantage of virtual team enjoyed by an organization is the associated cost savings. The organization can do away with huge expenses on real estate, office spaces, utilities bills such as gas, electricity, water etc. and executives’ travel. Many organizations outsource their operations to the low-cost regions. Thus production cost also decreases with the reduced raw material cost, operational costs and lower wages of the employees in these geographic locations.
Money, money, money. The root of a lot of headaches, from international transfers to confusing tax laws. Paying an international team is much more difficult than giving out checks or setting up direct deposit with a co-located team. You have to worry about how to send it, fees, the conversion rates of the day, and much more. What tax forms are you responsible for? How do you file benefits for international employees? A business may almost want to hire a person just to take care of processing payments for remote workers.

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.

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.


The cost of a personal assistant will be more than a virtual assistant and you will be responsible for employing them. But you will be receiving 100% of their time and whilst this requires a certain amount of administration on your part there are companies such as Staff Tax in the UK for private staff who can help with payroll, employment contracts and pensions. For an idea of how much a PA would expect to be paid you can read more here.

Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.

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