Article

Richard Walton
Richard Walton 28 July 2017
Categories B2B

Why your company should consider going virtual

You're short for time and cash, you're constantly stressed, your employees are overworked and your business growth is slow. Sounds familiar? There is a way out of the black hole: hire a virtual assistant. I know what you're thinking, it sounds like an unnecessary risk. How can you trust someone you've not met to handle sensitive company information and how do you even know that they're who they say they are?

These are all valuable concerns, but if you hire the right person and create an effective system of working, a virtual employee could hugely benefit your business. Here's why you should rely on virtual worker technology.

Expense

Hiring a full time in-house employee is expensive. There's the salary, the office space, the software licenses, HR, office supplies and all the extra costs such as payroll taxes, insurance or benefits. Then factor in that only an average of 6.75 hours of an 8 hour working day are actually productive, which means you end up paying for at least 1.25 hours a day for an employee to make coffee, scroll through Facebook and stand around chatting in the kitchen.

We did the maths and discovered that on average it will cost you 137% more to employ a PA in the UK compared to the cost of hiring an AVirtual assistant, but it's not just virtual assistants, it's graphic designers, accountants, social media experts, the list goes on. American Express estimates saving a staggering $10–15 million per year with virtual employees. The great thing about working with a virtual employee is that, usually, you're guaranteed productive output for your money as you pay only for the hours worked or in a set monthly package. However, you do have to consider how cutting costs effects the quality of the output. Is it worth going for the cheapest freelancer if they're going to return sub-standard work that will need re-doing?

Time

Time is the most precious asset in business. We're living in a hyperactive world where we're all expected to be constantly available, but it's impossible to keep up with the endless list of demands and so inevitably, you end up falling behind and getting stressed. That's bad news for business growth and effective leadership, plus it could actually mean more expense. According to the American Psychological Association, stress costs U.S. businesses approximately $300 billion per year in absenteeism, lower productivity, and employee turnover.

By enlisting the assistance of a virtual employee, you can lessen yours and your employee's responsibilities, meaning that instead of spreading yourselves thin over multiple tasks, you can concentrate your time on what you're really good at. Plus if you choose to hire through a virtual services company (rather than an individual freelancer), they will manage the whole process for you so that you don't have to worry about recruitment, technical issues or even sick leave as covers will be provided to seamlessly take over the work load.

Think about it like this: it might take you a week of struggling with your company's accounts to make any progress, whilst an expert bookkeeper could do the job better and more quickly. Or you could go one step further and think about investing in artificial intelligence software for data based jobs, which would limit human error and increase the pace of business growth. For instance, Sidetrade has built artificial intelligence software that supports and empowers marketing, sales and finance departments to grow sales and accelerate cash through a unique cloud platform. Artificial intelligence supports decision-making with immediately actionable data-driven insights, allowing businesses to remain competitive and drive fast revenue. Have you considered it?

Productivity

Statistics show that virtual employees are significantly more productive than their in-house counterparts. That's mainly because freelancers charge only for the hours they actually work. At AVirtual, for example, our assistants use time tracking software to accurately record their active hours so that clients can clearly monitor their progress. You and your employees will notice an increased productivity too as your stress levels will be decreased by your lessened work load, and you will be able to put your skills to their best use. It might even mean you get to leave the office early for once.

Naturally, this requires a certain level of trust in the virtual employee you're working with. If you're not confident in their ability, you won't be able to let go, which is a vital component in increasing productivity. Again, it comes down to research and thoughtful recruitment. Take time to consider how the relationship with a virtual employee could work within your company's culture, where you need assistance and what kind of support would most benefit your employees.

Customer experience

The success of your company depends on your customers. As such, it’s vital to understand and monitor the ways they are responding to your services. Nowadays social media plays a large part in boosting a company's exposure and creating a public image. However, effective social media requires constant engagement across multiple platforms, which takes time and expertise. Your customers need to feel that they are receiving a personal service, that they are valuable part of your wider community and more than that, you need to be able to anticipate their concerns and desires so that your company can develop to meet their needs.

This requires extensive research so that you can build an effective and personalised strategy. Rather than hiring expensive in-house data scientists, companies like Sidetrade offer advanced and cost effective software outsourcing options that utilise AI to predict customer needs through analysing sales and finance history, thus increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long-term. That data can be then be passed through to your virtual sales manager, who can oversee the whole process, and ensure that best practises are quickly implemented to optimise customer experience. Whilst data's important, it's of no use if it can't be translated to a human level.

Whether it’s to streamline existing processes, increase productivity, cut costs or improve performance, almost any company can benefit from some kind of virtual assistance. How do you get started? Identify where you need help, hire wisely and just get going. As will all things, the only way you'll truly understand the benefits is to experience them first hand.

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