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A Better Answer Blog

Virtual Assistant vs. In-Person Administrative Assistant


The tasks and responsibilities for a small business are endless. There’s not enough time for this, and that is falling through the cracks. We’ve all been there. When it feels like you can’t accomplish everything on your own under your crunched schedule, it might be time to consider hiring help — like an administrative assistant.

Administrative assistants can help with many aspects of your business, including data entry, answering and routing calls, replying to emails and marketing efforts.

If you’re in the market for an administrative assistant, your next decision should be to choose whether you want to hire a virtual assistant or an in-person assistant.

While administrative assistants have been the traditional answer, there has been a significant shift — many companies are leveraging virtual employees to scale their businesses.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of both a virtual assistant and an in-person administrative assistant.


What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

A virtual assistant brings variety to your workforce.

In most cases, they can help with as many tasks as you need them to. Common tasks that virtual assistants do are call scheduling, email inbox management, bookkeeping, report generation, customer service, data entry, and lead gathering for your pipeline. 

Virtual assistants also provide around-the-clock support. Instead of paying a full-time employee a salary for 40+ hours a week, you only need to pay a virtual assistant for the amount of work they do. Virtual assistants are usually hired on an hourly basis. 


Advantages of a Virtual Assistant

One advantage of VAs is that they remove specialists from the grunt work, allowing them to get back to what they do best.

For instance, if you have a salesperson on your team who is also doing data entry and acting as a customer service representative, they’re being pulled away from sales activities that contribute more to your business.

Allowing specialists to get back to more rewarding tasks and utilizing a virtual assistant for more mundane tasks will help your business run efficiently.

Another benefit of virtual assistants is they are significantly less expensive than hiring in-house employees. Saving costs here will allow you to put that money toward efforts that bring in more clients.

When hiring a VA, you can choose to go with one who has experience working with startups. Doing so will save you time because you won’t have to train them on much — they might even have advice to streamline your processes.


Drawbacks of a Virtual Assistant

A potential drawback of hiring a virtual assistant is you will need to trust a stranger with responsibilities in your business — but keep in mind that trust would have to be built with an in-person hire as well.

Gaining trust is a required step with any new hire. You can also give a new assistant limited access to your programs and systems in the beginning and work them up to more secure tasks.

Another potential downfall of having a virtual assistant is the risk of hiring a needy or inexperienced one. Hiring a team member who doesn’t know what they are doing or doesn’t show initiative can cause more headaches than it’s worth. 

At times, virtual assistants can go MIA. It’s easy for them to log-off and become unavailable. When time-sensitive tasks arise, you may not be able to get hold of them. 

Virtual assistants will not be available for in-person meetings, but since most companies are staying remote due to COVID-19, this might not cause much concern.


What Are the Tasks of an Administrative Assistant?

Administrative assistants are the overseers of a company's day-to-day operations. Their duties include handling calls, scheduling appointments, planning meetings, creating decks and documents, and managing payroll or accounting tasks.

Administrative assistants are highly-organized and responsible for making sure nothing gets overlooked or missed within your team. Without someone handling these day-to-day tasks, they fall upon the business owner and or other employees who are often overqualified for a position like this.


How an Admin Assistant Helps

Having an in-person administrative assistant allows you to go through your traditional hiring process — this might make you feel comfortable with the hire. You’ll get to meet in person, which often makes it easier to read someone and better understand who they are and how they present themselves.

Administrative assistants are fully committed to your business. You will be able to build a strong relationship with them. Holding in-person meetings will allow you to establish expectations, dissect feedback, and have open lines of communication.


Disadvantages of an In-Person Administrative Assistant

A major disadvantage of an in-person administrative assistant is that they tend to cost much more than a virtual or part-time assistant.


With a full-time employee come full-time costs. As a business owner, you’ll have to pay for time off, sick leave, medical insurance, and additional tasks. 

In-person hires are also limited in what they can accomplish in one day. For instance, one person can only complete so many tasks in a workday. When you hire a virtual assistant, you can employ many of them to accomplish a slew of different jobs. One VA might spend a few hours a week doing accounting tasks, while another manages your social media accounts, and another is in charge of answering your incoming calls. The cost of three virtual assistants is often cheaper than hiring one full-time assistant.

With an in-person administrative assistant, you will have to spend time training them in each tool and system your company uses and showing them the ins and outs of your processes. 


Leverage Virtual Assistants for Your Business

While an in-person administrative assistant is beneficial for specific industries and situations, that is not always the case. A great way to fill your administrative needs is hiring a virtual assistant to support your team.

Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to help scale your business. It allows you to delegate repetitive daily tasks and get mundane tasks off your team’s plate. By hiring an employee at a lower cost, you will be able to use those funds to reinvest in your business — that savings can help you generate new leads or level up your marketing efforts.

If hiring a virtual assistant is the next move you’re considering to scale your business, we can help walk you through the qualities to look for in a virtual assistant.