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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The rise of the virtual assistant

Sharing an article written and published by: PA Life Surveys/Current Affairs | 19 August, 2013
If you're considering going from full-time company PA into a freelance role, this may be the ideal time. The number of individuals and businesses hiring online PAs, or virtual assistants, is doubling year on year, according to new statistics.

A recent survey conducted by job platform Elance shows there has been an 85% annual growth in online PAs and 69% are happier freelancing than working in a regular office-based position.

Further research from payroll company Paraplus outlines the reasons PAs choose to 'go virtual'. 38% think that they will get more work and 21% feel they will earn more money than in a nine-to-five role. However, one of the main concerns is securing a regular income, with 25% citing this as a worry.

Other fears include finding clients (36%) and managing HMRC paperwork (16%); in fact 36% of those surveyed have received a fine or penalty for failing to comply with HMRC legislation.

Solo entrepreneurs and small businesses are the most enthusiastic adopters of virtual assistants, but project teams and large company execs are hiring VAs too. Existing clients are the top source for freelance work, with 36% of VAs stating that they find their projects this way. Another 21% say they get work through job adverts.

Two assistants interviewed by Elance vouch for the advantages of a freelance role. Scotland-based Martha Christie spent 15 years as a corporate office manager and PA. She now runs her own business, Martha's SOS, and provides services for seven clients on different continents.

"Each day is different and that's what I like about my job. Working nine to five for one person, day in day out, tends to get a bit monotonous." Martha also feels that it is an astute move financially: "The way things are going in the economy, with the amount of redundancies, I do think people should be looking at the online industry and becoming [more] prepared."

Former housing lawyer Susan Doyle emigrated to Spain with her husband and found getting work difficult. She set up global VA business First Stop Secretarial, developing an established network of clients in the UK, Australia and Canada, and now enjoys a life working to a schedule that she dictates. She says the best bit is that she no longer has to commute in British 

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