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Having virtual assistants or being the virtual assistant is of course different from the traditional physical assistant/admin. Manager Tools is a great must have for any professional from all side of the office spectrum. But there is not much there is about virtual assistants. I hope there will be more topics on this. I believe it's the coming thing...

HMac's picture

rjvcinches: Sounds like an interesting topic. If you have a specific situation you can describe, or a challenge you're facing, or some tips about working with virtual assistants, I encourage you to share them in the forums.

There are a lot of great conversations going on here, and it's a way to get some help on a topic sooner than waiting for it to come up in M/M's queue.

-Hugh

jhack's picture

Thomas Friedman describes his experience with "outsourced" assistants in "The World is Flat."

Good book all around.

John

rjvcinches's picture

What I had in mind or what I was lookin was to read some bits of wisdom regarding VA as it is applied day to day in the office anywhere in Manager Tools. I am a VA working hombased in the part of the world where some VA's are hired or I think the term is outsourced. Thanks for the replies guys... Hugh and John

AManagerTool's picture

Tim Ferris advocates their use in the 4 hour workweek although his endorsement doesn't really help their cause in my mind.

Like anything, I'm sure it has benefits and costs and the balance of these is probably determined by how you use them.

dmbaldwin's picture

Is a virtual assisstant someone who works remotely? We live in Baltimore, MD and my wife is an admin for her boss who is in the Indianapolis, IN office. Is that what you are asking about?

In our office we have been having a discussion/argument about how much our admins should be able to work remotely.

Dave

rjvcinches's picture

I guess that is essentially it. But I don't really know. How is remote assistance is done in your office? I am an aspiring virtual assistant and it would be a useful thing to learn more and learn what others know. What does Manager Tool say about it.

dmbaldwin's picture

There is a search function above. I just used it and didn't really find anything along the lines you are interested in. Lots about viritual teams. The great thing about this discussion forum is not only do Mike & Mark weigh in on issues, but so do many excellent and qualified managers that we can all learn from.

Let's see how this discussion thread develops!

Blessings,

Dave

rjvcinches's picture

I am a recent registrant here. I find it amazingly useful and insightful. I too have searched about any topic about virtual assistants. i certainly hope there will be discussions on the topic. REally just about ABC's of virtual being or having virtual assistants.

manager_atrois's picture

Hmmm...my sense is that this would be a great idea for a podcast, but part of the problem is that the term is so elastic. A "virtual" assistant could be an outsourced assistant who acts as a kind of offsite receptionist or tech support individual. But then, I have also heard of instances where even advanced voicemail plans like gotvmail have been referred to as "virtual assistants" -- I guess because they eliminate the need for a receptionist altogether? Not sure...I guess who or whatever winds up filling those shoes is a "virtual assistant".

slee's picture

Hi there,

I'm a Virtual Assistant myself. There are many differnet ways Virtual Assistants work... some (like me) work ONLY from their home offices, some do a couple of days a week in a corporate office. Some have a team of Virtual Assistants in their home, some do all the work themselves, some work for large Virtual Assistant companies (you see alot from India, China, Phillipines, etc). It can be quite varied.

Personally, I work from my home and plan on doing much of the work myself, until I get too busy at which time I have a team of contacts ready to jump in and help.

On the homepage of my site ([url]www.scratchpadsecretaries.com[/url]) you'll find a bit of an overview on Virtual Assistants; feel free to check it out or contact me to chat more about it/any questions!

CAVAtmh's picture

[quote="dmbaldwin"]Is a virtual assisstant someone who works remotely? We live in Baltimore, MD and my wife is an admin for her boss who is in the Indianapolis, IN office. Is that what you are asking about?

In our office we have been having a discussion/argument about how much our admins should be able to work remotely.

Dave[/quote]
Your wife would be considered a remote worker or remote employee. A virtual assistant owns their own business and subcontracts with another business to provide a variety of services, depending upon their expertise.

managersitch's picture

[quote]A virtual assistant owns their own business and subcontracts with another business to provide a variety of services, depending upon their expertise.[/quote]

Aren't there virtual assistant companies, though? In which case the actual "assistant" would not be a business owner. But I see what you mean.

quentindaniels's picture

I've actually been fascinated by this subject for some time. (mainly since the world is flat)

Again, all I can say is that I hope someone can share their experiences.

I think it is a great concept and certainly lowers the cost of employing an assitant. Specifically to internationally based VA's, it has benefits in improving an executive's asynchronous communications and international exposure.

Also, the concept of someone working on something while you sleep is pretty cool. I imagine it could prevent a lot of late nights.

QD

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="managersitch"]Aren't there virtual assistant companies, though? In which case the actual "assistant" would not be a business owner. But I see what you mean.[/quote]

There are a number of such companies. Although, in my experience, it tends to be part of their business rather than their entire business. For example a temp agency might also run a virtual assistant business as a sideline. One company in Birmingham, UK, that I know of offers virtual assistants along side serviced offices, a call centre (which could be considered a form of virtual assistant) and general business services (everything from envelope stuffing to helping you launch a new product).

A virtual assistant, as I understand the term, doesn't have to be a person. A service like [url=http://www.google.co.uk/alerts?hl=en]Google Alerts[/url], which allows you to set up searches to be run every day and the results emailed to you, is a form of non-human virtual assistant.

Stephen

CAVAtmh's picture

[quote]Aren't there virtual assistant companies, though? In which case the actual "assistant" would not be a business owner. But I see what you mean.[/quote]
Yes there are quite a few companies that provide virtual assistance. The concept remains the same, except your business is sub-contracting with the VA company instead of an individual virtual assistant.
As for the scope of just what a virtual assistant can do for you and/or your business, the sky is the limit. There are VA's out there that specialize in everything from personal assistance to accounting. Anything an in-house employee can do, can be done by a VA.
One of my major clients, a title company, was skeptical as to whether title processing could actually be done remotely, but as a start up in a down real estate market, they couldn't afford a full time, in-house processor. My background in the industry, coupled with my knowledge of computers and Internet applications made it relatively easy. We have a very successful business relationship in which their success is my main goal.
If you need an idea of just what virtual assistants can do, I have a free e-booklet on my website with 100 tasks that a virtual assistant can accomplish for a business and/or individual.

dcaissie's picture

Although Virtual Assistants aren't the rarity they were five years ago, there is still a lot of misconception about what a Virtual Assistant is and does. The definition by which I operate my Virtual Assistant business, ExtraOrdinary Assistance, is:

[quote]A Virtual Assistant is an administrative expert and solo business owner who provides administrative support to other solo business owners. Virtual Assistants work collaboratively and closely with their clients in order to evolve the efficiencies, understanding and familiarity necessary to fully support their clients' business.*[/quote]

Virtual Assistants perform their jobs remotely, via technology, and many of them work from their homes. Just because someone works remotely, though, doesn't make him/her a Virtual Assistant. I have seen blogs that imply that a work from home telemarketer is a Virtual Assistant. Nope, that's just a telemarketer. I've seen blogs that imply that work from home customer service representatives are Virtual Assistants. Nope, they're just customer service representatives. Neither are gotvmail or call wave Virtual Assistants. All of these non-virtual assistants provide just one service and not the range of services provided by a Virtual Assistant. Some Virtual Assistants work only with coaches, some only with realtors and some only with financial planners, but the majority of Virtual Assistants work with any business owner regardless of the industry he/she represents.

As Tina Hilton pointed out, a Virtual Assistant can do just about everything that an on the premises administrative assistant can do. The exceptions? She can't make your coffee for you, she can't take your clothes to the dry cleaner and she can't watch your kiddies for you while you're in a meeting.

So called "Western Virtual Assistants" charge between $35 - $75 per hour, and many give retainer clients a price break. By the way, I agree with AManagerTool that Tim Ferris' book doesn't do Virtual Assistants any favors, and neither does Jonathan Roberts blog. Both advocate using "Non-Western Virtual Assistants". The Virtual Assistant industry, as a whole, disagrees with Tim and Jon's undervaluing the services a Virtual Assistant provides by utilizing the services of Virtual Assistants who charge <$10/hr).

Donna Caissie, Virtual Assistant
ExtraOrdinary Assistance
Web Site: www.extra-assist.com
Blog: www.dcaissie.wordpress.com

*Definition courtesy of The Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce, of which I'm not a member. :(

Danielle's picture

Like Tina and Donna have pointed out, Virtual Assistance is a profession based on a specific concept--that of working in collaborative, ongoing partnership with clients (as opposed to occasional, sporadic, transactional, project-based basis).

[b]For a history of Virtual Assistance, see[/b]: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/history.htm

For business owners who want to learn more about what this kind of administrative support is all about and how their administrative burdens can be solved with the help of qualified, competent, reputable Virtual Assistants, my organization, the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce has written an entire guide for you. Of interest:

[b]Client's Guide to Virtual Assistance[/b]http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/client-guide.htm

[b]How to Work With a Virtual Assistant[/b]
http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/working-with-a-va.htm

[b]How to Hire a Virtual Assistant[/b]
http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/how-to-hire-a-virtual-assistan...

[b]Virtual Assistant Directory[/b]
http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/directory/

[b]Virtual Assistant RFP Center[/b]
http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/rfp-center.htm

[b]My members also write a free weekly newsletter called the Gritty Business Buzz [/b]that is geared specifically for small business owners. In it, they provide great advice for running your small business more efficiently, reviews and overviews of the best technology tools to use, tips and insights on marketing and networking, insights into better understanding and utilizing Virtual Assistance and inspirational info for taking care of YOU while running your business and keeping stress at bay.

When you are just looking into this field and making your first forays into finding the right VA to assist you, subscribing is a great way to get to know the smart, professional, competent and wonderful Virtual Assistants who are providing expert administrative support to clients around the globe. You can subscribe here: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/subscribe.htm

PS: Donna, it would be our pleasure to have you apply for membership. We do not charge a membership fee, but we do have a membership process. Feel free to stop by and submit your registration. :)