Does WFH Need Virtual Assistance?

Over the past year, organisations of all types and sizes have been hit in different ways by the effects of the pandemic. Some have thrived as demand for their services or products has rocketed, others have seen years of growth slammed into reverse as the various restrictions imposed have denied users access to their products or services, others have needed to diversify to survive and sadly some have closed all together. The UK business landscape will have almost certainly changed forever.

Due however to UK business’s typical resilience and creativity, it is almost certain that 2021 will see the emergence of new start-up businesses, small and medium sized businesses re-establishing themselves in their traditional markets or maybe diversifying into new ones, and medium to large businesses restructuring in a way that would have been inconceivable less than 12 months ago.

For many, their financial forecast will no longer look as they did and so 2021-22 budgets will be scrutinised closer than ever with a view to how growth can be achieved in the most cost effective manner. This will be done whilst incorporating the inevitable new element of some or many, employees remote working on a fulltime or hybrid basis.

In this article, we highlight why the use of Virtual Assistants should be considered as a part of the solution.

Can Growth be Achieved Virtually?

Growth for many businesses irrespective of size, will ultimately require more staffing in key roles like, marketing, sales, finance and operations to name but a few. It is reasonable to assume that this expansion in turn, typically leads to increased business administration, communication, marketing, finance and general business functions.

Accommodating these additional demands on the business would typically be via one of the following options but as noted, each one comes with its own restrictions or issues:

  1. Allow directors and existing employees to absorb the additional workload as it grows This may initially seem logical, especially if they are set up to WFH where they are potentially more productive and so on the surface this may seem a prudent approach but in the medium to long term, it could transpire to be a costly mistake. The importance of the adage - ‘work on the business, not in it’ applies to not just business owners but to each manager and employee at a micro level too. The more their tasks are diluted from their core role in particular when WFH, the less effective and productive they become

  2. Employ a new or additional Personal Assistant or Secretary Subject to the volume of new business growth, this is unlikely to be a viable solution unless there is sufficient additional functions within the business they can undertake from the outset. The cost associated with finding and recruiting the right PA, training them, paying their wages, pension contributions and taxes, supplying equipment and materials along with other overhead related costs is considerable and requires sufficient confidence in the ongoing growth forecasts of the business

A third way, which is often overlooked or considered to only be applicable for one- or two-man bands, and one that could significantly help organisations with various employees set up to WFH, is to utilise the services of a remote 3rd party expert. A Virtual Assistant

A Few Productivity Facts

  1. 32% of an employee’s day is wasted on carrying out pointless tasks! A study of 2,000 workers found typically 142 minutes a day are spent doing admin, paperwork and attending meetings when they could be getting on with more important jobs. These 142 minutes a day, which equate to 32% of the average 7.5hr working day, include the following tasks: - Using old or failing technology – 26 minutes - Completing paperwork – 29 minutes - Time-consuming conversations – 34 minutes - Attending pointless meetings – 29 minutes - Pointless processes e.g. expenses – 24 minutes Ref: Webexpenses’ study

  2. 230 hours a year of productivity is lost per office worker due to email ! A study of 2,000 office workers (pre-pandemic) found they typically spend around two hours each day browsing their inbox. Around ½ this time is wasted by re-reading messages, needlessly checking for updates and sending emails to colleagues when it is easier to speak to them face-to-face. As a result, around five hours per week (230 hours a year) of productivity is lost.

Ref: SoftwareONE research as part of National Work Life Week study

Could a Virtual Assistant Be Your Solution

Historically, Virtual Assistants (VA) were generally considered to primarily be of value for fielding calls and emails, arranging meetings and undertaking general administrative tasks. In more recent years however, it could be argued that with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) software installed on mobiles, such as Siri, Alexa, Bixby and Google Assistant, some of these more traditional tasks have been absorbed into people’s day to day work function. The knock-on effect of this advancement however is that quality VA’s have had to adapt their business offering to accommodate this and as such they now offer significantly more services than was traditional.

Each VA’s service offering should major on the core strengths of their staff but the type of services now encompassed by a quality VA may include:

  • Personal Assistant services Call, email, diary and travel management, event planning, personal support etc

  • Business Support services Bookkeeping, HR and business support, specification compliance etc

  • Marketing Support and Content services Social media management, PR liaison, email campaign management, research etc

  • Customer Support services Query resolution, service support, order placement etc

In addition to a mix of the above, it is likely that a quality VA will have multiple skill sets and also be able to offer bespoke services tailored to each organisation’s individual needs.

The benefits of engaging the right VA for your business size and structure are not however just restricted to enabling staff to be more productive. Due to the typical engagement method, these benefits also include:

  • Financial You pay a fixed hourly rate for their services. Significant savings are achieved by not needing to employ directly, thus avoiding the costs of finding and recruiting a PA, training them, paying wages, pension contributions and taxes, supplying equipment and materials and associated overheads

  • Flexibility Downturns and upturns in business growth can be accommodated by increasing or decreasing the number of hours they are engaged or the tasks they undertake

  • Productivity Levels They are likely to be more efficient on allocated tasks, as these are typically their core business, thereby removing daily distractions and allowing you or your staff to focus on core tasks. There is also no cover required for sickness or holiday.

Whilst there may be concerns over engaging a 3rd party to deal with the tasks highlighted above, the same if not greater risks can apply to directly employing an individual. Finding the right person with the right skill sets but without the inherent employment risks and costs can be difficult and time consuming.

In summary, if used wisely, Virtual Assistants can provide businesses of all sizes with key functionality that will enable them to grow in a cost effective manner, with their WFH employees able to focus on their core roles and tasks. In addition to this, VA’s afford businesses the flexibility needed to adjust as the new business landscape continues to evolve through 2021 and beyond.

The WFH Zone is the UK’s first online portal designed to assist organisations in the process of setting employees up to work from home in the most cost effective and ethical way. Our service provides a filter and search facility that helps employers and employees find quality suppliers of a range of Services and Products specifically associated with a work from home zone.

40% of office workers believe their company has too many manual processes which need completing, rather than more sophisticated technical solutions.

Source - Webexpenses