Since the widespread introduction of the Internet to the workplace and to the general public, one of its wonderful qualities has been the ability to work from virtually anywhere in the world, while still being connected to the office.
This ability has created a number of niche industries, but a particularly interesting development has been the rise of the Virtual Executive Assistance (VEA) service. Though the name evokes visions of sophisticated AIs surreptitiously performing tasks on behalf of their masters, the truth is a little more low-tech. Typically, Virtual Executive Assistants perform a number of the same functions that might traditionally be delegated to a PA– emails, scheduling meetings and the like. However, while PAs typically maintain a physical presence in the office, VEAs work remotely, remaining in the background.
VEA’s can serve as a cost-effective solution to a broad number of administration issues. As Virtual Assistants typically work remotely, they require minimal overheads and investment, which allows the company to save money on office space and equipment. This can be useful for any businesses, who may not have the budget or room for an additional full-time staff member. And for larger companies, the service may be beneficial for delegating a specific set of tasks or supplementing the work of a PA, saving more precious time for busy managers and helping them concentrate on the priority tasks first of all.
So, let’s review the seven business tasks you could be effectively outsourcing:
1. Research and briefing Given the time-poor status of many executives, VEAs can be utilized to fill any number of knowledge gaps. By preparing briefings on key topics, executives can acquire an umbrella view of a relevant subject without needing to be immersed in details that may be objectively interesting but are somewhat irrelevant to the specific task at hand.
2. Presentations Presentations are an art form unto themselves– and incredibly time-consuming, to boot. Delegate them while maintaining final approval. And treasure any staff member who demonstrates a talent for them.
3. Schedule management Few people can be expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their schedule and whereabouts at any given time– so scheduling is a key area where a VEA can be profoundly useful.
4. Database admin This is not specialized data entry; rather this refers to more mundane tasks, such as updating your contact lists or sending cards to colleagues for special occasions. It can be tedious and time-consuming, but also crucial to maintaining your records and good relationships– so why not delegate?
5. Email management It should be no surprise to see email on this list; managers at every level typically receive far more emails than they can sensibly deal with. Once given the appropriate background information, VEAs can effectively filter and organize your emails so that only the most relevant emails require the requisite attention.
6. Operations support In average, a busy corporate manager can travel up to five times per month. Each trip requires a proper planning including the preparation of the necessary materials, booking of a hotel, car, insurance, applying for a visa (if needed) and many more. Expenses tracking can also be a part of those things that you need to do. But what if an experience VE assistant helps you with all of that- imagine how much time you’ll have to prepare a killer presentation or speech.
7. Improve your productivity Senior management are typically not promoted on the basis of their administration skills, but rather their leadership skills, decision-making capabilities and vision for the company’s greater good. Though these qualities certainly can overlap with the ability for administrative tasks, it must be questioned as to whether this is the most effective use of the individual’s time. VEAs can enable executives and senior managers to be far more effective, by removing distracting, comparatively menial tasks and allowing them to focus on their core competencies during the working day– the qualities that got them promoted in the first place.