Recent years have seen the rise of remote assistants: outsourced PAs that effectively manage many of your administrative tasks from their home office.
The concept is simple.
Personal assistants can be expensive hires for small businesses with relatively small quantities of administration tasks. But, these tasks need doing. A remote assistant is a freelance worker that acts as your administrative PA, handling everything you’d expect them to; although the work is carried out over a digital platform rather than from a desk in your office.
This streamlines your processes, keeping costs down while ensuring work carries on as it should.
However, a remote PA isn’t your only option for streamlined business administration anymore. The rise of remote assistants inspired new innovations in smart business technology, designed to further boost both efficiency and the cost-effectiveness of operating a business.
What Exactly is a Smart-Tech Virtual Assistant?
We’re all familiar by now with the concept of a virtual assistant. Hubs like Google Home and Alexa have stormed the media with how they’re transforming the modern lifestyles. While the VA is commonly found in home environments, this technology has numerous applications for the business environment. They can set reminders, record details of tasks and even order in supplies.
Yet, these hubs are not your only options when it comes to integrating tech with your business processes. Other innovations in the virtual assistant sector include software to manage email responses, visitor sign-ins, take notes and dictation, book meetings, send text and voice responses, and even provide phone call automation.
Benefits of Virtual Assistants in Business
So, virtual assistant tools operate many of the tasks a remote PA does, but it’s all done either through automation or dictation. This means you are now presented with a choice when it comes to outsourcing your personal assistant tasks.
You can either go for the person, or you can go for the machines. Both have their merits, but here’s how smart tech can edge out the human competition:
Smart tech is so called for a reason.
Despite the fact you may feel you get more versatility out of a human PA over virtual assistant technology, you’ll be surprised at how flexible the software can be. For example, through hubs like Alexa, you can establish purchasing options that means supplies are either automatically replenished, or can be ordered with one simple voice command.
When it comes to more specialized administrative tech, such as phone automation, you can set a range of features to streamline business operations, from pre-recorded brand messages to scheduled forwarding that ensures important calls reach another member of staff if you are unavailable.
For a basic administrative PA working remotely, you’ll be looking at a mid-range price of £11 per hour. Depending on the amount of work you need, you may only need a few hours of work per week, building up to semi-regular or even part-time outsourcing. This is definitely cheaper than hiring an in-house PA, which stands at an average of £20,000 per year.
However, smart-tech assistance can drive those costs down even more. Systems like Alexa will cost you a one-off fee of around £90. Plus, while other types of software may require subscriptions, their fees are low. You can get virtual phone assistance packages, for example, for around £10 a month.
In the highly-competitive world of small businesses, keeping costs down is critical. Virtual assistant technology can help you maintain your workflow while reducing expenses.
The average person spends over four hours a day looking at their phone; that includes business owners, management and other members of your team!
Smart technology goes hand in hand with the mobile phone movement, with much of the software used to automate administration practices connected to smartphones through apps. This makes the management of your vital business processes super convenient and very accessible. You can often perform, manage and monitor tasks on the go, while at home or even abroad.
This kind of connectivity out-matches that of having an outsourced PA, simply because arranging contact with a person is far more difficult than tapping an app on your phone — not to mention more time-consuming.
One of the major issues facing the remote assistant marketplace is that availability is governed by hours assigned. Your outsourced PA will often be given either times to work or hours to be filled within a certain period of time. This ensures work is completed, but it does limit availability.
If you’ve got a meeting and you need calls taken while you’re busy, or need notes taken immediately, your remote service may not be available. Thus, you are left to handle the task yourself.
This is not a problem with smart tech assistance. The technology is available 24/7. If you need an administrative task completed, the automation is either already in place, or you can instantly access the tools required to execute it.
Author: Rory Whelan is Marketing Manager for eReceptionist. Since 2012 he has helped lead the product to become the favourite call management company for UK Small and Medium businesses. Passionate about Small Business and communications, his background includes 20 years in Marketing, Consultancy, Television and Media and Telecoms.