What is a Virtual Administrative Assistant?

Felicia Dye

An administrative assistant is someone who helps an administrator or an administrative team to perform their duties. A virtual administrative assistant is someone who performs these duties in a different location from those who he is assisting. This is an example of a telecommuting job, which is a category of jobs that have grown with the popularity of the Internet.

A virtual assistant must be able to access the Internet.
A virtual assistant must be able to access the Internet.

The duties that a virtual administrative assistant performs can greatly vary. He may answer forwarded calls and reply to e-mails. He may create and distribute invoices and handle shipping issues. There may be a range of clerical duties for which he is responsible, such as typing and creating presentations.

Some virtual assistants use a headset to communicate rather than traditional telephones.
Some virtual assistants use a headset to communicate rather than traditional telephones.

In many cases, a live meeting never occurs between a virtual administrative assistant and his employer. It is not uncommon for the two parties to be in different countries. Yet, the virtual administrative assistant often performs his duties in such an inconspicuous way that third parties do not realize that he is off-site and not a true employee.

The Internet generally plays an essential role in this type of arrangement. A virtual administrative assistant and his employer generally use a variety of telecommunication tools to keep in touch and exchange items. If it is necessary for them to have face-to-face encounters, for example, this is often accomplished through video conferencing. They can exchange documents using e-mail attachments. The virtual administrative assistant can even be electronically paid for his services.

There are several reasons why a person or organization may choose to work with a virtual assistant. Doing so generally eliminates the discussion of costly benefits such as retirement funds and health insurance. It allows access to cheaper labor markets, such as those in rural areas or foreign countries. There are also instances where there is not enough work to occupy an employee full-time, and a virtual administrative assistant’s services can be arranged on an as needed basis.

The virtual administrative assistant also generally finds benefits from this type of arrangement. Such an individual is often afforded a great deal of flexibility. This is true both in terms of working hours and working location. A person without a computer may be able to work from an Internet café or a mother may be able to stay home with her child.

Since there is no office and time clock, employers may be more concerned about work being completed by a certain deadline than they are about the amount of productivity within a certain amount of hours. It also affords many virtual assistants the opportunity to increase their earning potential by offering their services to numerous people or companies.

There are a growing number of telecommuting firms that provide virtual administrative assistant services.
There are a growing number of telecommuting firms that provide virtual administrative assistant services.

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