Bye-Bye Full-Time Employees, Hello Virtual Assistants
A trend that began during the 2008 global economic crisis, and has maintained pace ever since, is predicted to accelerate in the decade to come: The offshore virtual assistant is THE future substitute for the traditional employee.
The Facts Speak for Themselves:
- A virtual assistant can save a company up to 78 percent on annual operating costs
- Virtual assistants charge only for the hours they actually work
- Virtual assistants can be hired—and de-hired—based on demand for their services
- Clients can hire virtual assistants already in possession of specific skills, eliminating or reducing the need for training
- Studies show that full-time employees are typically fully productive only for around three hours a day
- US and Canadian companies can engage Vas in India and the Philippines at a price far lower than they would pay for onshore virtual staff
Workplace Trends Report Lays it on the Line
The Intuit Future of Small Business Report 2020 predicts the following for the next decade:
- The economic recession that began in 2008 will continue, accelerating the trend towards non-permanent workers such as freelancers, contractors, and independent consultants.
- Today, roughly 25-30 percent of the US workforce is contingent and some 80 percent of large corporations expect to make use of a flexible workforce in the future.
- The number of non-permanent workers will increase worldwide in the next decade. By 2020, more than 40 percent of the US workforce will be contingency workers.
- The availability of full-time, full-benefit jobs will decrease.
The reports states that contract workers increase efficiency, agility, and flexibility for a company. They also cost way less than conventionally employed human resources.
The Coming of Age of the Virtual Assistant
In the United States, tougher immigration laws introduced by the Trump administration mean that fewer employment-based visas are being granted. In 2018, the US government denied 24 percent of all initial H-1B applications, up from six percent in 2015, according to the National Foundation for American Policy think-tank.
As the influx of skills slows, US businesses are turning to offshore virtual assistants to help them fill the gaps.
In Canada, immigration policy is more relaxed. By the end of 2019, the Ottawa government would have welcomed 330,000 new permanent residents, while another 340,000 will be welcomed in 2020. The numbers, though large, are still not sufficient to keep up with the demand for skilled freelance workers.
Where to Find the Cream of the Crop in Virtual Assistance
The virtual assistance industry in the United States is estimated to be worth $US5 billion and growing. Canada and Australia are not far behind.
But for companies on a tighter budget, cheaper options can be found in India and the Philippines, the West’s current go-to destinations for offshore outsourcing.
While India leads the way when it comes to freelancers in the IT and back-office domains, the Philippines’ outsourcing industry is becoming increasingly popular for its wider range of all-round abilities. It has grown by 46 percent since 2006 and is currently experiencing an annual growth rate of 20 percent.
Global freelancing platform Upwork reports that of the eight million virtual assistants and freelancers in its community, around one million are Filipinos.
Why is the Philippines the Flavour of the Month?
The Philippines’ economy is swelling year-on-year as the Southeast Asian island nation strengthens its reputation as an outsourcing powerhouse. From globally trading corporate BPO providers to home-based independent VA’s, the archipelago is a rich source of valuable remote services.
Few are the drawbacks for North American businesses engaging offshore VAs in the Philippines, and many are the benefits, the most notable of which include:
- A high level of English proficiency: While Filipino is the national language, English is the primary medium of instruction in schools and communication in business.
- A high literacy rate: The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, at 96.2 percent.
- Alignment with western business principles/culture: The Philippines’ culture has been influenced by traditions drawn from years of colonisation by Spain, the United States, and Japan. Filipinos are valued for their ability to work well with different nationalities.
- A neutral accent: Filipino VAs are popular due to their neutral spoken accent, which tends to sound quite American—a significant benefit in terms of team integration and especially when VAs have direct contact with a business’ customers.
Virtual Done Well Trains its Focus on North America
Due to the ever-growing demand for Filipino virtual assistants, Virtual Done Well, a leading VA company in the Philippines, is now offering services to businesses in the United States and Canada.
The VDW team comprises researchers, telemarketers, social media managers, graphic and digital designers, and website managers/designers, all of whom have a high standard of business skills, and outstanding command of the English language.
The Times They Are VA‘Changing
The Intuit report predicts a radical change to the traditional workplace in the decade ahead.
It forecasts that, by 2020, roughly 60 million Americans–that’s one in six—will be aged 65 plus. Most will continue working beyond traditional retirement age, and many will start small businesses, as a source of financial support and perhaps as a lifestyle choice.
Lacking the verve of youth, and struggling to keep up with rapid technological advance, many of these new, late-in-life startups will need help to absorb the rigours of modern business. Enter the virtual assistant—a Robin to the business Batman, a Tonto to the Lone Ranger-preneur, a Watson to the home-based Holmes.
Virtual Assistants Charge to the Rescue
The Intuit report also predicts that in the decade to come, more people will live in cities than in rural areas, the digital generation will turn 40, and ageing baby boomers won’t retire.
With these demographic changes, the face of small business will shift as well, affecting both small businesses and consumers over the next decade.
The report may unsettle business owners reluctant to embrace change. The more enlightened will know though, that for every challenge they face, a skilled VA is a ready solution, and a valuable aide for the flexible, future-resilient, small enterprise-owner.
It’s happening now and it will shift from a trend to a norm in the years ahead — the VA way is here to stay.
Why not check out for yourself how your business can benefit from an offshore virtual assistant? If your business is based in North America, the friendly and well-informed VDW team is eight thousand miles from you—but no more than a mouse-click away.