Advantages of Virtual Assistants: The Productivity Perspective
It is not difficult to find articles explaining how virtual assistants can help you boost the productivity of your business, but you’ve probably noticed that many of them simply approach the topic by listing tasks that you can outsource to a VA. While that can of course be useful, it doesn’t necessarily help you to understand exactly what productivity benefits a virtual assistant can bring to your business.
In this article, we take a slightly different tack and explain just how and why—regardless of the types of tasks you outsource—a virtual assistant (or team of virtual assistants) can make a positive difference to the productivity of your business.
An Extra Pair of Hands… and Much More!
Of course, it may seem obvious that once hired, a virtual assistant is an addition to your workforce and therefore, increases your productivity to the power of one. Indeed, this is the primary advantage of outsourcing some of your tasks to a VA, but it’s not the only way that virtual-assistants raise productivity for your business.
It doesn’t matter if you are a solopreneur, the owner of a small business with just one or two employees, or the leader of a department in a much larger enterprise. In each case, a virtual assistant offers both direct and indirect benefits, which combine to raise productivity more meaningfully than the simple addition of a few extra labour hours. For example, if the outsourcing process is planned and executed with care, additional productivity gains can be made by way of resource realignment.
Double-up on Productivity Gains
If you outsource tasks that don’t contribute directly to revenue generation or are not what you consider to be core activities of your business, your productivity gains can be worth more than the value of the hours for which your virtual assistant will be paid.
In order to unlock this extra productivity though, you will need to choose carefully, both when selecting from a list of VA candidates and in deciding on the tasks to be outsourced.
For instance, perhaps each member of your small team of employees currently takes responsibility for revenue-generating activities such as marketing, manufacture, and product distribution, while also managing a share of the tasks that must be done just to keep your business running—tasks such as administration, invoicing, and technical support for customers.
Outsourcing Increases Internal Productivity Too
By hiring one or more virtual assistants with strong skills in admin, technical support, and financial management, you should be able to achieve higher levels of productivity in these activities. That is because firstly, the people performing these tasks are specialists and so deliver their services with a high degree of efficiency. Secondly, they are not continually switching their attention between these and other tasks, as your internal team members are probably obliged to do.
The same is true for your internal staff members, who without the distractions of peripheral activities, will be free to maximise the use of the professional skills for which you hired them.
Furthermore, the cost of outsourcing your invoicing, admin, and technical support will probably be less per hour than when your own team performs these activities, as they typically attract a lower rate of pay than the more specialised, core activities that your employees were hired for.
The savings become even greater if your virtual assistants work from a country with lower labour rates than your own. The money thus saved can also be channeled into employee training, equipment, or technology to further increase the productivity of your internal resources.
Patience Before Productivity
Given the possibilities to improve business productivity with help from virtual assistants, it’s hardly surprising that more and more small businesses are choosing to outsource certain tasks, activities, and processes. However, it is important to remember that there is a learning curve involved, both for the virtual assistant/s that you hire, and for yourself and your team.
If you bring a VA onboard with the expectation of immediate results, you may be in for an unnecessary disappointment.
Instead, try to think of the outsourcing venture as an investment, and be prepared for the possibility that productivity will actually fall somewhat in the early days, until your virtual assistant gets used to working with you and your team, and everyone adjusts to changes arising from the integration of remote and on-site professional resources.
A little patience will pay dividends when outsourcing for the first time and before long, you should start to see productivity trending at and then above the levels you are used to seeing.
Of course, once you have hired your first VA, the lessons learned will be invaluable in reducing the time-to-improvement associated with subsequent hires. That in itself is an important point with which to close, because in our experience, many small enterprises, rather than stopping at just one virtual assistant, are more than happy to bring others onboard as their businesses scale.