How to Delegate Busy Work to an Executive Assistant

Updated: 10 May, 2022 | Bill Peatman

It is no secret that executives of small and medium-sized businesses are overwhelmed with administrative work. Small business leaders often resist hiring administrative assistants because they think they save money by doing administrative work themselves. Asana surveyed 10,600 knowledge workers and found that managers and above spend 62 percent of their time on administrative tasks.

Just 38 percent of your time on productive strategic work?

Executives are drowning in busy work.

“One of the reasons why entrepreneurs resist hiring help is because they view hiring other people as an expense and not an investment,” said online course software maker Thinkific. “Until you have someone on your team that you can delegate specific tasks to, you will continue to waste valuable time and energy on activities that don’t contribute to the growth of your business.”

What You Can Delegate

The Eisenhower Matrix says you should delegate important work that can be done by someone else. Tasks that are time-consuming but necessary you can delegate include:

  • Scheduling executive and team meetings--it takes 25 minutes to schedule a business meeting.
  • Planning travel--it takes twelve hours to plan a door-to-door business trip.
  • Filing expenses—it takes 20 minutes to file an expense report.
  • CRM data management—521 business addresses change every hour and keeping a CRM up to date is a never-ending task.

How to Delegate Busywork to an Executive Assistant

Executives are hiring remote executive assistants to whom they can delegate administrative work. Virtual assistant hiring—where your assistant works remotely—grew 41 percent in 2020. The tasks listed above do not require that your assistant be co-located on-site. The shift to remote work in 2020 made everyone more comfortable with remote work and opened the door to a much larger pool of employees.

Remote Executive Assistant or On-site

The growth of the virtual assistant market means the first question you need to answer when considering how to hire an administrative assistant is whether the assistant should work in your office or remotely. There are several reasons executives hire virtual executive assistants:

  • Few executives have enough work for a full-time assistant—62 percent of a day or week does not require a full-time employee.
  • In-person administrative assistants are hard to find—there are 2.6 million fewer than in 2020.
  • Virtual assistants eliminate the expense of office space and computers.

How to Hire a Freelance Virtual Assistant 

You can delegate your busy work to a freelance executive assistant who works in your office or from a remote location. There are far more virtual assistants worldwide eager for work than there are traditional administrative assistants in most US markets. Either way, you can:

  • Create a job description.
  • Post the job on a job board like Craigslist or Indeed.
  • Review applications and resumes.
  • Interview and hire your assistant.

Unless you have experience hiring and managing and delegating to an assistant, hiring a freelancer is the riskiest way to hire an executive assistant because the candidates self-qualify without third-party validation. You need to:

  • Know exactly what skills and experience to look for.
  • Be clear on the tasks and workflows you want to delegate.
  • Take the time to train, manage, and coach the assistant.
  • If the assistant works remotely, you need to have strong security systems for someone working on their personal computer and network. 

A freelancer is the least expensive way to hire an administrative assistant--especially if you hire an offshore virtual assistant. If you want to try to manage and control the quality of an assistant’s work, a freelance administrative assistant can work. That said, if you have a tough time defining how and what to delegate, it can be a long road to productivity.

How to Hire an Executive Assistant through an Agency

Whether you choose to hire an administrative assistant on-site or virtually, some agencies can connect you with a qualified independent contractor for the job. Hiring through an agency removes some of the risks of a freelance assistant. The agency vets and pre-qualifies the assistant in advance. Still, you need to be prepared for the same responsibilities as a freelance executive assistant: 

  • Know exactly what skills and experience to look for.
  • Be clear on the tasks and workflows you want to delegate.
  • Take the time to train, manage, and coach the assistant.
  • If the assistant works remotely, you need to have strong security systems in place for someone working on their personal computer and network.

Hiring an assistant through an agency is more expensive than a freelancer in most cases, as the agency takes a fee for its service.

How to Hire an Executive Assistant through a Managed Service Provider

Managed executive assistant service providers hire, train, supervise, and provide long-term career opportunities for virtual assistants working offshore. The executive assistants work in secure buildings, computers, and networks. A team of managers and backup assistants provides performance management and quality control. This model requires the least effort on your part, as the service providers have years of experience helping executives delegate administrative tasks. This model works best if:

  • You are looking for long-term support—the team invests a lot in reaching optimal productivity.
  • You have traditional administrative tasks like scheduling meetings, travel and expenses, and CRM data management to start with—the assistants train on these and other practices. They can learn more subjective tasks down the road.
  • You can communicate your task processes and preferences for how to perform them.

Managed executive assistant services cost about the same as hiring an administrative assistant through an agency.

How to Find the Right Executive Assistant to Delegate To

You can see that there are many ways to find an executive assistant to whom you can delegate. How do you know how to hire the right administrative assistant for you? The best way to hire the right assistant for you is to be clear about:

  • The type of support you want—the tasks, skills, and experience needed.
  • The amount of management and training you want to provide.
  • Determine if you are looking for long-term or short-term assistance.

Executive assistants are not mind-readers—at least not at the beginning of your relationship. As with any new hire, there will be a learning curve on both sides of the relationship. But think—what would you do with 62 percent more time to spend on strategic initiatives like planning, customer relationships, and working with investors and partners? Maybe you would spend more time at home with your family or on brain-refreshing hobbies like cooking or exercise.

Prialto offers the world’s largest managed virtual executive assistant service. To learn more about working with Prialto, download our guide.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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.

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