Earlier this year, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), a global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions, launched its first-ever assessment of virtual executive assistants as a staffing model for U.S. businesses. The report, "The Virtual Assistant Landscape: An emerging part of the Workforce Solutions Ecosystem," found growing adoption of virtual assistants for executive teams to boost productivity.
"Offloading routine, time-consuming tasks will allow more time for employees to focus on their core areas of expertise and, thereby, improve productivity."
Executives Spend 16 Hours Per Week on Busy Work
Executives are overwhelmed with busy work. The productivity apps and tools that replaced traditional secretaries create the illusion that executives should be self-sufficient. "Executives spend 68.1 percent of their time working "in" their business—tackling day-to-day tasks, putting out fires, etc. That leaves just 31.9 percent of their time to work "on" their business—i.e., working towards long-term goals and strategic planning," SIA said.
That is more than two days per week spent on day-to-day tasks. And these studies were conducted pre-Covid when executives were in offices with some support with resources like copy machines and mailrooms.
Accelerating Executive Teams
National insurance company Woodruff Sawyer turned to virtual assistants because its executives were drowning in busy work. With more than 4,000 businesses as clients, simple tasks like coordinating schedules were one of its biggest challenges.
"I spent my days herding cats," said senior vice president Clark Morton. "I might need to coordinate with two, three, four, five people from Woodruff Sawyer and several people from the client side. It was a huge time commitment and royal pain."
Woodruff Sawyer turned to a managed virtual assistant service to solve the problem.
"Virtual assistants allow Woodruff Sawyer to free up time and focus on growing the business instead of merely holding on because everyone is overwhelmed by a bunch of tiny tasks." said sales leader Tom Batchelder.
Those cat herding days are over. "Now, we just let our assistants handle it," Morton said.
Managed virtual assistant services appeal to larger teams because the service provider does the heavy lifting of hiring, training, and managing the performance of the assistants. It is easy to get started quickly and to scale as the team grows. Hiring multiple assistants one at a time is costly and time-consuming for HR leaders and executives alike, and few businesses have the expertise to qualify and supervise remote assistants.
Also, overwhelmed executives are not looking for more staff to train and manage or more cats to herd.
Managed Service vs. Self-Service
SIA points out the differences between a managed virtual assistant and a self-service model that provides resumes and allows you to select the assistant that seems like the best fit.
"Under a managed service model, the Virtual Assistants are more likely to be direct employees of the virtual assistant firm whereas those available via a self-serve model are more likely freelancers," SIA said. Companies working through a self-serve platform "will have to take care of their own training requirements and generally manage their own quality standards."
Improving Operational Efficiencies
Leveraging a managed virtual assistant service for executive teams also boosts overall operational efficiency. Executives offload routine tasks by bringing in virtual staff that requires no onboarding, HR support, training resources, or performance resources from other departments. Managed virtual assistant services are turnkey for all stakeholders. CHROs, HR leaders, and executive teams are turning to this solution to move businesses forward with minimal internal lift.
To learn more about working 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.