Drive Efficiency with Managed Assistant Subscription Staffing

By Bill Peatman | Updated: 16 Aug, 2022

You always need to do more with less.

Operations leaders want to continually maximize organizational efficiency. Boom-time staffing shortages and bust-time downsizing increase workloads and call for optimized workforces. And no one wants to whiplash workers from staffing reductions to hiring binges. Rightsizing can be a never-ending challenge.

Managed subscription staffing for remote executive assistants offers a solution that can rev up your executive teams by offloading administrative tasks to a lower-cost support team, giving executives more time to focus on driving the business forward.

What is Managed Subscription Staffing?

Managed subscription staffing offers a "best of both worlds" blend of the gig economy, pay–as–you–go talent acquisition, and the reliability and consistency of skilled, professional full-time employees. A service provider hires, trains, and supervises employees and places them with companies that need a long-term, flexible workforce with specialized talents.

Companies get employees with the skills they need without the obligation, overhead, and expense of full-time employees. With remote subscription staffing, companies also skip the cost of office space and computers for workers. The model works particularly well for non-core roles that support companies' revenue-producing products and services.

Why Executive Assistants?

Executive assistants are one of these non-core functions that can give your executive team more capacity without adding costly headcount. Asana's latest Anatomy of Work Global Index surveyed 10,000 workers and found that "23 hours of the 40-hour workweek are lost to menial, repetitive tasks," as opposed to "skilled work" or the strategic tasks that represent core responsibilities.

The time lost is most acute for managers and executives, Asana found, with more than 50 percent struggling with distractions from strategic work. With more than half of the work week lost to busy work, operations leaders are looking at ways to give that time back to executives to unlock capacity.

Traditional Executive Assistants Hard to Find 

This productivity gap comes as traditional in-office executive assistants are hard to find. According to the labor department, some two million administrative assistants have left the workforce in recent years, with another million leaving the profession by 2030. Jobsite Lensa found that "receptionist" and "administrative assistant" are the second and third most challenging roles to fill, respectively.

Executive assistants tend to have a high turnover rate, with less than half holding the job for more than a year. The revolving door puts you in a difficult position, constantly hiring and training employees only to see them leave for greener pastures. Managed subscription services train backup assistants that can step in whenever a primary assistant is absent or moves on.

Managed subscription staffing services tap global talent, offshore and near shore, to fill executive assistant roles, allowing you to leverage high-skill, well-trained assistants at a much lower cost than a fully loaded full-time employee. And because of what the Wall Street Journal called "the vanishing executive assistant," few businesses have the internal resources to manage and develop assistants.

Access to Executive Assistants at Scale

Subscription staffing for executive assistants is particularly valuable for large executive teams. Hiring admins one at a time, whether local or remote, is time-consuming, and you have the same turnover problems and uneven skill sets. With a managed service, you can access teams of admins that share the same training, best practices, and service levels. This consistency allows you to provide executive teams with predictable, reliable support with no added management lift.

What do Managed Subscription-Based Executive Assistants Do?

Subscription executive assistant services train assistants to perform the most time-consuming administrative tasks that hobble executives:

  • Calendar management.
  • Travel planning.
  • Expense reporting.
  • File management.
  • Email organization.

Consider these numbers:

  • It takes 25 minutes to schedule a business meeting.
  • Planning a door-to-door business trip takes 12 hours.
  • Expense reports eat up 30 minutes.
  • Executives spend 50 percent of their time looking for files.
  • Sorting through email eats up five hours.

Remote executive assistants can take on these tasks to give your executive team more time for strategic work, dramatically increasing capacity with incremental costs. Most executives need about 12-15 hours per week of support. A part-time remote assistant can support up to three executives, multiplying the ROI.

A New Model of Outsourcing

Traditional outsourcing involves handing off a project to a third party—an individual or a company. Examples include IT projects like ERP integration, financial audits, or manufacturing. Companies outsource these projects to experts because they are not the companies' core business and require specialized skills.

Project outsourcing is risky because you are putting quality control in someone else's hands. Cost overruns and product quality issues are common.

But what if you are trying to fill non-core long-term, even permanent roles but cannot find the people or do not have the experience or expertise to vet, hire, train, and manage them? You want someone else to do the quality assurance and predictable costs.

Managed service providers fill a new role in the workforce by supplying skilled, trained professionals, usually from areas of the world where talent is plentiful but meaningful job opportunities are scarce, with a flat monthly fee. In this outsourcing model:

  • The service provider hires, trains, supervises, pays, and provides employee benefits and career development.
  • The service can be scaled to support teams of executives, adding new assistants on demand.
  • Clients get long-term, fully embedded remote teammates without any added management responsibilities.
  • Each executive gets a dedicated, part-time assistant available throughout the day.
  • The assistants work in teams, cross-training to provide backup assistants ready to take over when a primary assistant is unavailable, or a business wants to add more assistants with minimal onboarding.

Rethinking Administrative Staffing

After years of uncertainty that is likely to continue, businesses and employees are rethinking the traditional FTE model. Employees want flexibility and opportunity to advance, and employers are either desperate for talent or tasked to optimize efficiency. Subscription staffing offers a solution where everyone benefits—offshore employees find stable jobs with growth opportunities and benefits. And employers get hard-to-find workers without direct hires' risk, cost, and overhead.


The HR Leaders Guide to Outsourcing Executive Support at Scale


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.