What is a virtual assistant?

Have you ever wondered what the term “virtual assistant” means? If so, we wrote this article to explain in more detail who are those very real workers, offering their skills and time to improve your daily routine and save your time. Discover what can be done with the help of remote talents. Do you want to become a remote worker yourself? Learn in this article the different roles that you can take, most sought after skills and required work ethics.


What is a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistant, remote employee, digital nomad, online talent… In the past years, the number of people working as consultants or independently from a firm has grown. Globalization, as well as the improvement in information technology, has led to a new wave of professions. You can now be an independent designer, an SEO specialist, or a copywriter for example.
At first, a virtual assistant did a similar job as a personal assistant, only online. Their tasks were mostly:
-Calendar management
-Email and message management
-Appointment setting and tracking
-Reporting and taking notes
-Travel booking and other personal tasks

As virtual assistants became essentials to fast-growing businesses, they were also given a variety of new tasks. For example, social network presence now often plays a big role in a company’s success and recognition, you cannot always hire an in-house full-time employee to manage your accounts. By hiring a virtual assistant with social media management skills, you can easily grow your followers on all social media and delegate other administrative tasks at the same time.
Here a few tasks that virtual assistants usually manage nowadays:
-Sales Management
-Search engine optimization (SEO)
-Website design
-Customer service
-Video and audio editing
-Graphic design
-Apps and software development

Those tasks can already amount to a lot of hassle and stress for a busy solo entrepreneur. At the scale of a startup or an SME, hiring virtual assistants can ease the flow and help coordinate tasks for everyone.
Virtual assistants can be independent contractors but many rely on an agency to connect and regulate their relationship with companies. At OnGlob, for example, our remote workers are talented individuals, mostly coming from developing countries, and we advocate for education and a fair rate for our workers, to create a sustainable positive impact.

In short, the term Virtual assistant is now used commonly to describe any fully remote employee, they can do anything, from simple duties to specialized tasks.


Who are Virtuals Assistants?

There are many different kinds of virtual assistants and even more types of profiles. They are usually in the middle or at the beginning of their careers, but there is no limit of age as some students are doing it as a part-time job. Seasoned accountants, assistants, and writers for example are not uncommon either.
The benefits of being a virtual assistant is huge for people who cannot otherwise take up an office job. Remote working is inclusive: parents and individuals with physical limitations, for example, can now work from home. There are also “digital nomads”, who like to work from different cities or countries and enjoy the flexibility this position offers.
As for the country of origin of remote workers, it also varies greatly. Virtual assistants are common in all developed countries of course, but are usually more specialized and paid similarly to office workers. Some companies still prefer hiring local people, but with the existing wage gap between countries, there is a constant trend to outsource work to less developed areas. Philippines was and stays the mainland of a majority of virtual assistants because of its historical ties with the U.S and their English proficiency. Many IT and customer service specialists are coming from India or Bangladesh. With more and more companies hiring remotely, other developing countries in South-East Asia or Africa are becoming a hub for remote work such. Education and internet infrastructure has grown exponentially over the past decades and allow for a bigger part of the world population to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship. Companies such as ours hope to create life-changing opportunities and allow for a fairer distribution of wealth around the world.

How to work with virtual assistants?

During the hiring process, it is vital to have a good understanding of the tasks you need to delegate and find out the exact level of the skills you are looking for. Because of cultural differences, you might not have the same expectations or way to present your achievements and experiences, so don’t jump to conclusions too fast.
Remote interviews for a job can be a challenge as meeting someone for the first time online can lead to awkwardness and stress. If it is your first time hiring or having an online interview, keep that in mind and give some leeway.
A thorough due diligence process should be conducted: education, previous experience, and advertised skills… For specific tasks, the hiring company can require a test assignment.
Using headhunting services or an agency can ease the process because they work with experienced or trusted profiles and make sure candidates have the right fit for the job.
After the hiring, if you are an entrepreneur or team manager and want to know how to manage and work efficiently with virtual assistants and remote teams, you can read our dedicated article. At OnGlob, we also make sure the relationship between remote workers and business starts properly by providing coaching to the workers and an onboarding tutorial to companies.

Connecting companies and entrepreneurs to virtual assistants around the world lead to better salary options for qualified remote workers and a wider pool of talent and skills for businesses. Remote working is becoming the norm worldwide: we believe our value proposition will allow for a more inclusive market. This is the future of work.

Register your profile on OnGlob! 
We will get in touch if there is a job that matches your profile.


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