A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also known as a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides administrative, technical or creative (social) professional assistance to clients remotely from a home office. Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, customers are not liable for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits, except when those indirect expenses are included in the VA fees. Customers also avoid the logistical issue of providing additional office space, equipment or supplies.
Customers pay for 100% productive work and can work with Virtual Assistants to meet their exact needs, either individually or in multi-VA firms. Usually, virtual assistants work for other small businesses. But it can support busy executives as well. It is estimated that around the world there are as few as 5,000-10,000 virtual assistants or as many as 25,000. The profession is growing with “fly-in-fly-out” staffing practices in centralized economies.
Common communication and data delivery methods include the Internet, e-mail and telephone conferences, online workspaces, and fax machines. Virtual assistants are increasingly using technology like Skype, Slack, and Google Voice. Professionals working on a contractual basis in this business and long-term cooperation is standard. Executive assistant, office manager/supervisor, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, and information technology are typically expected to have 5 years of administrative experience in an office.
In recent years, Virtual Assistants have also been working their way into many mainstream businesses and it has been possible to have a Virtual Assistant with the advent of VOIP services such as Skype that can answer your phone remotely without the knowledge of the end-user. This allows many businesses to add a personal touch without the additional cost of hiring someone in the form of a receptionist.
Virtual Assistants are individuals as well as companies that work as an independent professional remotely, providing a wide range of products and services to both businesses and consumers. Virtual assistants perform many different roles, including typical secretarial work, editing of websites, marketing of social media, customer service, and many other remote tasks. The virtual industry has significantly changed as it attracts newcomers to the field.
Virtual assistants come from a variety of business backgrounds, but most have gained several years of experience in the “real” (non-virtual) business world, or several years of online or remote work experience.
A dedicated virtual assistant is someone under a company’s management working in the office. The company provides the facility and internet connection as well as training. The virtual home-based assistant either worked in the office sharing environment or in their home. The general VA is sometimes referred to as an online administrative assistant, personal online assistant or online sales assistant. A virtual webmaster assistant, a virtual marketing assistant and a virtual content writing assistant are specialists who are usually experienced corporate employees who have started setting up their own virtual offices.