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Great news. If you’re reading this post there’s a strong chance things are going well – so well in fact, that you are thinking of hiring an assistant.
The question, however, is do you hire a virtual assistant or a more local physical assistant? The answer will most likely boil down to an equation of budgetary constraints, what you require the assistant to do, working hours, and your personal working style.
The further question is whether you might be better off going it alone?
There is, of course, a feeling of reliability and certainty knowing someone is available in the next office down to help you with what you need. However, this ‘traditional’ way of hiring a personal assistant comes with a substantial administrative and financial burden in the sense of sick pay, holiday pay, taxes, and specialist equipment.
A ‘virtual assistant’ on the other hand, is more like a plug and play device. You offer them the job and they are good to go. There’s no set-up cost in terms of supplying equipment and there is a sense of flexibility about the relationship, in that you can have it as on-demand service, whereby you are only charged for the work undertaken each week; whereas a physical assistant would most likely require a minimum term contract.
Communication can, of course, be much easier when dealing with someone face-to-face and there are social benefits in terms of the camaraderie and friendship that can come from having a live assistant; however, flip this on its head and the social vibe could head toward ‘office politics’ and resentment.
There is a sense of commitment from a physical assistant that you are unlikely to feel with a virtual assistant, in part because you are sharing the same physical space, but that does not mean a virtual assistant cannot be equally, if not more, committed to you and your business.
Your concern is possibly more justified that the virtual assistant may not always be available when you need them, whereas, the live assistant in the next room to you – is reliably going to be around for when you need them.
From an administrative perspective, hiring someone physically could mean you are responsible for their payroll, whereas, with a virtual assistant this is often processed by the company you hire the assistant through. That said, you could always hire a live assistant through a recruitment agency (though this may not be the most cost-effective way to move forward in the long term).
A neat resource for keeping track of payroll (most suitable for those employing a number of people) is thepaystubs.com. If you’re a solopreneur and don’t already have payroll systems set up then looking into an automated payroll system or hiring an assistant through an external company might work out better.
The fact that someone is local does not in itself mean they are ‘better’. Indeed, many virtual assistants in countries like India have Master’s Degree and charge a fraction of the cost of a more local inexperienced assistant.
In many ways, it depends on what you require. If you feel the need to have someone physically present then a virtual assistant is always going to leave you feeling a little edgy, as no matter how good they are at their job, they are not going to give you the sense of certainty that having a physical person in the next office will.
Unfortunately, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.