What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client’s office. A virtual assistant typically operates from a home office but can access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars, remotely.
People employed as virtual assistants often have several years of experience as an administrative assistant or office manager. New opportunities are opening up for virtual assistants who are skilled in social media, content management, blog post writing, graphic design, and internet marketing. As working from home has become more accepted for both workers and employers, the demand for skilled virtual assistants is expected to grow.
- A virtual assistant is a self-employed worker who specializes in offering administrative services to clients from a remote location, usually a home office.
- Typical tasks a virtual assistant might perform include scheduling appointments, making phone calls, making travel arrangements, and managing email accounts.
- Some virtual assistants specialize in offering graphic design, blog writing, bookkeeping, social media, and marketing services.
- For an employer, one advantage of hiring a virtual assistant is the flexibility to contract for just the services they need.
How a Virtual Assistant Works
Virtual assistants have become more prominent as small businesses and startups rely on virtual offices to keep costs down and businesses of all sizes increase their use of the internet for daily operations. Because a virtual assistant is an independent contractor, a business does not have to provide the same benefits or pay the same taxes that it would for a full-time employee.
Also, since the virtual assistant works offsite, there is no need for a desk or other workspace at the company’s office. A virtual assistant is expected to pay for and provide their own computer equipment, commonly used software programs, and high-speed Internet service.
In a study of over 50 career categories, FlexJobs found virtual administration was one of the top 10 fastest-growing remote career categories.1
Virtual Assistant Duties
The specific duties of a virtual assistant vary according to the needs of the client and the terms of the contract. Some virtual assistants handle clerical and bookkeeping tasks, while others may post regular updates to social media or write articles for a blog. A well-rounded virtual assistant may also handle travel arrangements, appointment scheduling, data entry, and online file storage.