If the Covid crisis has taught us anything, it has taught us the importance of workforce flexibility. Companies went remote in a matter of days.
Employees created home offices with or without extra space.
Companies delivered laptops, webcams, and headsets.
All meetings went online.
Now, as businesses ramp back up with or without the office, they face staffing shortages and resignation surges that require flexibility once again.
Labor costs are rising as employees have their pick of jobs.
Hiring is taking longer and costing more than in 2019.
Managed Virtual Assistant Service Enable Flexibility
For teams growing their executive ranks, one of the most challenging positions to fill is executive assistants. Job site Lensa found administrative assistants to be the 3rd-most in-demand role. The common trends of higher costs, fewer candidates, and the need to remain flexible in this fluid environment are driving businesses to managed virtual assistant services for a fast, cost-effective, flexible alternative to hiring internal employees.
Global staffing consultancy Staffing Industry Analyst (SIA) launched its first assessment of the virtual assistant marketplace, "The Virtual Assistant Landscape," this year. The study noted the growth of the use of managed virtual assistant services by larger businesses. SIA said that companies have a new "appreciation for the need to have a flexible workforce model to respond quickly to sudden and unexpected changes in circumstances," which a managed service enables.
Graham Company is a leading independent insurance brokerage and consulting firm. When the company found its executives drowning in busy work and local assistants in short supply, it turned to a managed virtual assistant service. Graham launched a pilot with six virtual assistants and soon scaled to 13—growth that would have been impossible hiring one assistant at a time.
The Managed Virtual Assistant Model
A managed virtual assistant service differs from the most common model, which SIA calls "self-service." In the self-service model, an agency has independent contractor virtual assistant resumes on file and, upon request, provides suitable matches to client requests. It is up to the client to onboard, train, and supervise the assistants.
In a managed service, virtual assistants are hired, trained, and supervised by the service providers. There is no onboarding, training, or performance management on the part of the client. Because the service provider has hundreds of assistants on hand, businesses can quickly scale their admin layer without additional HR or management resources. Trained backup assistants, performance managers and account managers ensure quality control.
You can scale up and scale back as business conditions change.
"Employment can be burdensome," SIA said. "Virtual assistant firms offer their clients the ability to upscale or downscale efficiently in reaction to unexpected changes in business demand."
Managed Virtual Assistants Enable Cost Control
That scalability also gives companies the ability to control costs. Most managed virtual assistants are fractional—executives get a set number of support hours per month, paying only for the time they need. Because the assistants are employed by the service provider business avoid overhead costs like:
Healthcare and benefits
Equipment (computers and network)
All these costs are the responsibility of the service provider.
Growth with Flexibility
Administrative tasks are not core to most businesses. Offloading functions like calendar and inbox management, travel planning, expense accounts, data entry, and document preparation enable executives to pull the company forward. Offloading these tasks to a managed virtual assistant service further boosts operational efficiency by avoiding added management and HR overhead. At the same time, a managed service enables levels of organizational flexibility that are much more difficult to attain with direct hires or independent contractors.
For more information on how to work with a managed virtual assistant service, download this guide.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.