Virtual assistant, real benefits

Melissa Smith, who’s based in Georgia, founded The PVA, a virtual assistant staffing company, and wrote Hire the Right Virtual Assistant. She has also created a virtual assistant training course.

While the technical skills for virtual admins are similar to those who work on-site, the soft skills are a little different, she says. “No longer is it ‘I’ll grab her walking through the office or wait until this meeting is over to deliver the undesirable news.’ You don’t have those luxuries, and yet it is crucial,” she says. “Your presence needs to be felt, which means you have to reach out and make yourself available for more than simply work. The last thing you want is for someone to think of you as a chatbot or some other form of AI.”

Smith says her clients tend to be people who want to focus on specific aspects of their business and simply can’t handle the day-to-day activities alone. “The only thing I can’t do is pick up the dry cleaning,” she says. “There’s a delivery service for everything these days, so I could still take care to make sure it gets done.”

She says the biggest benefit of remote work is the freedom and flexibility. She travels the world while working and juggling time zones. The job also eliminates the commute, allows admins to be home with their children or allows them to care for other family members.

“Some people absolutely love the thrill of going into the office. Others see it as confinement,” Smith says. “We all want to have a positive and lasting impact for those we work for and with. Now we can do it as both an in-person assistant or virtual assistant.”