- See also Virtual Assistance
Virtual assistance is the professional service of remote administrative office and other specialized support by a virtual assistant who works with clients in an ongoing, collaborative professional relationship.-Job description:...
A virtual assistant
(typically abbreviated to VA
, also called a virtual office assistant
) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients from a home office
Small office/home office, or SOHO, refers to the category of business or cottage industry which involves from 1 to 10 workers. SOHO can also stand for single office/home office....
. Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits (except in the context that those indirect expenses are included in the VAs fees). Clients also avoid the logistical problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies. Clients pay for 100% productive work, and can work with Virtual Assistants, individually, or in multi-VA firms to meet their exact needs. Virtual Assistants usually work for other small business
A small business is a business that is privately owned and operated, with a small number of employees and relatively low volume of sales. Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships...
es. It is estimated that there are as few as 5,000-8,000 or as many as 25,000 virtual assistants worldwide; the profession is growing in centralized economies with "fly-in, fly-out
Fly-in fly-out is a method of employing people in remote areas. It is often abbreviated to FIFO when referring to employment status. This is common in large mining states in Australia...
" staffing practices.
Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, e-mail and phonecall conferences, online work spaces, and fax machine. Professionals in this business work on a contractual basis and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, office manager/supervisor, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, information technology, et cetera
In recent years Virtual Assistants have also worked their way into many mainstream businesses and with the advent of VOIP or other services such as Skype it has been possible to have a Virtual Assistant who can answer your phone remotely without the end user's knowledge. This allows many businesses to add a personal touch in the form of a receptionist without the additional cost of hiring someone.
In Non-Stop Inertia
, Ivor Southwood analyses the role of virtual assistant as the epitome of the contemporary phenomenon of precarious work. Through this mode of employment, which combines supposed flexibility and autonomy with actual lack of human contact, "home itself becomes a kind of non-place in which we are all either willing or reluctant jugglers”.