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Productivity / Growth

Are part time staff right for your business?

My recent experience with hiring part time staff has made me appreciate one of the best things about working for myself is the lack of office politics.

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My business was doing so well, I decided to take on a part-time assistant to help with the administrative chores, like writing letters, emails, telephone contact, keeping a check of the petty cash, that sort of thing. I also wanted someone to learn how to do my research.

At the time I was also lecturing at the University of Western Australia and wanted help with the student’s notes. I made another office within my home so we didn’t have to share, as I knew this would diminish my creativity.

I had taken on staff before in my past life, so I knew the drill. I thought I had chosen well. But after the first month my stress levels were high and I wasn’t a nice person to live with.

I sent my new assistant to all sorts of training sessions, but still the output didn’t match my expectations. By the end of the three months trial, the person came to me and said she had to leave because of personal problems. I don’t know who was more relieved.

I tried another assistant. Again, I thought I had chosen well, but about three and a half months into employment the person said she was having marriage problems and wanted to leave. I didn’t think it could happen twice.

"The moral of this tale is when the so-called experts tell you should grow your business, decide why you became a soloist in the first place."

My husband suggested third time lucky. This time I chose a person who was in her early fifties, happily married with a grown up family. You guessed it, it lasted three months. This was her second marriage and it was not working and she needed to find a full-time job.

This experience had taken a whole year out of my life and caused me more stress than I had ever experienced from the previous 14 years of being a soloist.

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Now I outsource to a virtual assistant and life has never been so good.

The moral of this tale is when the so-called experts tell you should grow your business, decide why you became a soloist in the first place.

There are no office politics and that’s just the way I like it.

Barb Clews

is a skilled copywriter and editor. She writes in plain language and believes material for print and the web should be clear, concise and user-friendly.

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