It used to be that the Virtual Assistant was identified with small businesses. These were enterprises with tight capital and limited access to funding. Small businesses that needed help to manage the administrative side as well as specialized tasks would contract the services of a Virtual Assistant.
But all that would change in 2011. Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer conducted a test to see if integrating home based workers in the work force would lower costs and improve productivity. Initially, Meyer allocated 10% to 15% of the work force to virtual assistants.
When the preliminary findings were successful, Meyer increased the allocation to 30%. Unfortunately, Meyer was not satisfied with the results of the program and discontinued it. Whether her decision was valid or not, it did uncover a third factor of productivity which was overlooked by big business.
When Meyer discontinued the home- based program, there were reports that morale at Yahoo! went sharply down. Employees were unhappy and productivity suffered. Since assuming the position of CEO at Yahoo! in 2012, Meyer has not turned in a single profitable year for the company.
However, by 2014 more big businesses were hiring home based workers. These companies included Xerox, Bank of America and United Health Group. They were integrating them into the work force. Many companies were outsourcing services to virtual assistants from remote locations such as the Philippines and India.
Big business finally saw the advantages virtual assistants gave small businesses:
Cost Savings – Virtual assistants lower costs of businesses for 2 reasons:
- You only pay them per productive hour.
- They are accountable for their own cost of business.
By contracting virtual assistants, you will not incur significant increases in business costs. In fact, these costs will easily be offset by productivity.
On a larger scale, these cost savings will increase accordingly. More so if they hire virtual assistants from remote locations.
Increased Productivity – Outsourcing services also increases productivity in 2 ways:
- Shift more focus and resources from non- core to core functions.
- Cost savings can be used to fund revenue generating projects.
Thus, by outsourcing services you address both variables in the profitability equation: cost and revenues.
Decreased Level of Attrition – Virtual assistants, freelancers and telecommuters have different terminologies but essentially mean the same thing. They are home- based workers.
They are more productive because they are generally happier workers. They do not have to deal with the inconvenience of the commute, office politics and they can save more money.
The companies that continued with the outsourcing program in the US, experienced lower attrition rates.
Improved Work Quality – It’s not only non- core functions that you should outsource. You should include highly-skilled or technical functions that do not fall under your competencies.
By outsourcing these tasks to a virtual assistant who has the requisite skills and experience, not only do you save up on costs but you also improve work quality.
It’s not surprising that Big Business has been outsourcing services. For some time now, Big Business has wanted to adopt the mindset of Small Business. Why? Because as business grows, it loses flexibility which is necessary during times of great uncertainty. Hiring virtual assistants brings back some of that flexibility to Big Business.