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.
Virtual work benefits the environment because fewer people are traveling in cars, buses and trains, which lowers the amount of vehicle emissions and decreases fuel usage. In 2007, CNET News published an article touting the benefits of telecommuting with statistics pertaining to congestion and traffic in Texas. Commuters face significant increases in traffic congestion in all 437 metropolitan areas in the United States. Adding up all the associated costs, the Texas Transportation Institute in early 2000 concluded that gridlock cost $78 billion annually in terms of 4.2 billion lost hours, not to mention 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. That's one convincing argument for telecommuting, especially in an area such as Houston where environmental pollutants are a serious concern.
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.
"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." Megan West, Digital Communications Manager. Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)
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.
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.
When you hire employees to work remotely, your talent pool is endless. Gone are the days of being bound to hiring and recruiting talent from a specific geographical location. By offering remote opportunities, you are also providing access to those individuals who may not be able to work outside of the home, such as those with disabilities. Additionally, virtual employment offers an alternative that may have otherwise kept parents and caregivers out of the workforce.
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.)
It’s hard to dispute: companies and at-home employees alike say remote work is a boon to productivity. Distractions like water cooler gossip, impromptu meetings, and loud colleagues are a non-issue, according to an infographic based on data from SurePayroll, a web-based payroll provider for small businesses. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity. 

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