By definition, ‘virtual’ means the assistant does not sit in your office with you. They might work in the same city, same country or even in another country!
The first step when engaging Virtual Assistants is to get a clear idea on the sort of work you might want them to do for you. Don’t worry if you can’t imagine how the work would be done as a good VA will provide you with ideas and possible solutions.
The geographical location of your VA may be dictated by the type of work you need done. Or it may make no difference to you at all. Here are some thoughts to help you decide.
Virtual Assistants in the same city
- Face to face time if needed.
- Same time zone which makes connecting easy. Also makes it easier for VA to contact your clients if they are based locally.
- Call costs are economical.
- You may want VA to attend meetings with you or for you.
- Easier to hand deliver important documents that you don’t want to risk in the post.
Virtual Assistants in the same country
- Minimal time zone changes allowing for easy contact via phone or email. Again, easier for contacting clients if they are local.
- Depending on where you live this may give you access to greater choice in who you engage.
- Call costs are economical.
- Postage more reliable and faster if using this method to share information such as business cards or receipts.
Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.
Virtual Assistants overseas
Things to consider:
- It can extend the productivity hours of your business. For example a document could be sent to your VA at 5pm local time for formatting. If they are on the other side of the world they will be working on it while you sleep. The document can be ready for you first thing in the morning when you arrive at work.
- Keep in mind being in different time zones also creates a new set of challenges around how and when you communicate and what happens if you need something done urgently when it is the middle of the night for your VA. The middle ground might be a VA in a time zone offset by 3-5 hours which extends your business function hours while creating a greater crossover between you both.
- Do you have strong values about supporting local business? If so, perhaps this option is not for you.
- Consider any communication challenges if working with someone for whom English is a second language. Depending on the type of work you need done this may or may not present an issue.
- Currency conversion – depending on what currency your VA works with the relative fees may be more or less economical than engaging a VA in your own country.
- The communication challenges that may come up if doing work such as transcription. You may get the cheapest price offshore but may have quality issues when English is not the first language. Also, be aware that if you are from Australia and get someone from the US to do the transcription for you – they may be brilliant, fast and accurate but they’ll also use American spelling with the “z” etc.
If you’ve got a view on which way would work best when using Virtual Assistamts or have a VA of your own, share your thoughts via a comment.