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Virtual Assistant vs. In-Person Assistant, Which is Right For You?

Many professionals and companies have come to rely on assistants to handle numerous vital tasks throughout the day, and the in-person assistant role has been around for decades. Due to recent technological developments and a shift toward remote working from the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies have hired virtual assistants. Although it's easy to think that virtual and in-person assistants have entirely different roles and abilities, the only significant difference between the two is their physical location.

Learn more about what personal assistants do, what virtual assistants do, and how their costs compare using our guide below.  

What Personal Assistants Do  

Personal assistants have a wide variety of duties to help managers and executives better manage their time and responsibilities. By handling tasks such as scheduling, collecting and organizing data, screening calls and emails, and other errands like getting mail or coffee, in-person and virtual assistants free up valuable time and headspace for higher-ups.   

Assistants, in effect, help the company run more smoothly and efficiently by giving high-level employees room to think critically and creatively about business challenges and opportunities. It can be daunting for executives to take proper care of the business, its employees, and themselves while they have a stack of administrative tasks piling up that could be handed off to someone else.  

Aside from inefficient uses of time, it doesn't make much financial sense to pay high-level executives to spend a chunk of their week on low-level tasks. Instead, they could focus their time and energy on decisions and problems that significantly impact the organization. Hiring a personal assistant can be a cost-effective and straightforward way to provide higher-ups with more time to focus on the business by offloading necessary, but time-consuming administrative tasks. 

What Virtual Assistants Do  

Virtual assistants handle most of the same tasks that personal assistants do, but the only distinction is that they are not physically present. With today’s collaborative technology, virtual assistants are simply a click away. 

Whether you need your assistant to schedule meetings with colleagues or clients, screen emails and phone calls, assemble reports, book travel arrangements, and speak with vendors for upcoming events, you can rely on a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants can also handle other tasks that arise throughout the day, such as creating presentations or graphics for reports, writing blog posts, sending cards and gifts, and managing social media accounts. Virtual assistants with proper credentials and experience can even take on bookkeeping and marketing services.  

They may not be able to run out and get a coffee for you or pick up your lunch themselves, but virtual assistants can order food or coffee and have it delivered to you. 

Comparing Costs of Each Assistant  

Another benefit of a virtual assistant vs. an in-person assistant can be cost savings. In most cases, virtual assistants are contractors instead of hourly employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a personal assistant is $30.34 per hour, though the highest-paid assistants bring home up to $45.49.  

Salaries for in-person assistants can creep up over time. Moving to an executive support model with virtual assistants can introduce cost savings from lower rates, less overhead, and greater flexibility with different levels of support across multiple locations.

Which Type of Assistant Is Better for You? 

In recent years, there has been a significant spike in demand for in-person and virtual assistants for executives and business leaders due to their ability to help a company run smoothly and keep managers' stress to a minimum. As a result, many have begun thinking about hiring an assistant, but they aren't sure whether a virtual or in-person assistant would work better. 

Some may want to hire an in-person assistant because that is what they know. However, unless having a person physically in your office is a priority, many have found the flexibility and efficiency of virtual assistants offer greater benefits. It often comes as a surprise to leaders how experienced, knowledgeable, and professional virtual assistants are once they take the plunge and give them a try. Many decide never to go back to the traditional model of hiring in-person assistants. 

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