Assistants have long been the backbone of modern corporations. Advances in computers and automation have dramatically changed what they do, but they haven’t made them less valuable—executive assistants have simply moved from clerical work to problem-solving and oversight.
As 2024 gets rolling, virtual executive assistants are in a unique sweet spot of efficacy and accessibility, leaving them poised to make huge differences for companies this year.
As it stands, upward of 35% of executives already use a virtual assistant. On Upwork, one of the foremost online job markets, virtual assistance is the second most in-demand skill (though, as we’ll explain later, not all VAs are cut out for executive support services).
There are many reasons, external and internal, for companies to turn to executive assistant services, and this article will tell you what you need to know about them.
- Virtual executive assistants provide flexible, high-level support to business leaders, which allows them to focus on strategic work and improve management practices.
- Several trends are driving increased demand for virtual EAs in 2024, including rising job complexity, adapting to remote/hybrid work, and the need for improved efficiency amid harsh economic environments.
- When hiring a virtual EA, a strong foundation pays dividends; take time to create a thorough job description, do a proper onboarding, and use hiring platforms that specialize in EAs.
Virtual Executive Assistants in the Modern Workplace
An executive assistant provides broad, flexible support to a specific high-level officer in a business (or, as is becoming common, for a few such leaders at the same time).
An EA’s goal is to allow their boss or client to make better, more productive use of their time. For this reason, a lot of an EA’s work focuses on scheduling, communication/coordination, and administrative support.
As software made it easier and less time-consuming to handle such work, the role of an EA has shifted toward work that requires more adaptability, quick thinking, and social skills.
EAs now handle project management, travel arrangements, research, reporting, and event planning, among other organizational tasks. The best EAs can represent their bosses in meetings and make decisions when they’re otherwise occupied.
What about Remote Executive Assistants?
Virtual or remote executive assistants do much the same work as their on-premises counterparts. Most, however, work as independent contractors rather than in-house employees.
Virtual EAs might operate fully on their own or through an agency. They often share a classification with virtual assistants, though they’re distinguished by their skill sets: more business/industry acumen, experience working with business leaders, and more robust management skills.
As more teams move their work online (whether in a hybrid or totally virtual setup), there’s a growing need for virtual EAs who know how to coordinate teams online, manage virtual collaboration platforms, and ensure projects are on track.
When working with VAs, the key in proper delegation. This easy-to-use guide will help you choose what to delegate to your VAs.Learn More
Virtual Executive Assistants at a Glance
People. Since a lot of virtual EAs work independently and can operate from anywhere in the world, it’s hard to estimate how many there are and what their demographics are like. The worldwide estimate is about 40 million VAs currently working.
Skills and Education. About 61% of US-based remote executive assistants have college degrees. The number is likely higher in remote work hotspots like South and Southeast Asia, where the job pays comparatively better in the local market. The most common skills on VA resumes are drafting presentations, customer service, and handling phone calls.
Pay Rates. Pay for executive assistants varies widely, not just across countries but even within them. A US-based assistant makes about $25 per hour, while virtual executive assistants from the Philippines average $4 per hour (which would put the average cost somewhat higher since many work through agencies charging a service fee).
Customize Your Virtual Team Based on Your Needs
Why Companies are Opting for Executive Assistant Services in 2024
So what makes virtual EAs such a great prospect in the year ahead? It’s a combination of trends in how we work and in how people get access to talent (or, from the other side, jobs). Here are some of the main considerations going into this.
Increased Work Complexity
Surveys show that people are finding their jobs increasingly complex. The prime drivers of this aren’t the nature of work itself but the systems and processes it must go through. The biggest culprits are information overload (90%), internal processes (89%), and rapid change (87%), which many workers find their employers are too slow to respond to.
Such problems can have outsize effects on people in leadership positions. If they find it difficult to navigate these obstacles, their subordinates could find themselves lacking direction.
Virtual EAs can be especially good at untangling internal processes or collaboration platforms. By removing friction in these areas, teams may find their jobs looking quite a bit simpler again.
Globalization and Technology
Among the major factors in businesses’ use of outsourced services is technological adaptation. This covers a wide range of cases, from information security to mobile/web app development and maintenance. A virtual assistant for executives can be especially helpful for businesses looking to expand activities into new platforms or migrate processes online.
Focus on Efficiency and Productivity
Executives spend 16 hours per week on admin work, which can severely curb their focus on long-term goals and day-to-day team management. With harsh economic conditions on the horizon, businesses will be compelled to do more with less—executive and administrative support can help with that.
A good EA’s services can save an executive several hours of work a week while costing significantly less per hour. And as executives occupy pivotal positions in their companies, this can cascade into further efficiency down the chain of command.
Cost reduction remains the most common reason companies opt for outsourced services. Hiring offshore EAs, in particular, can easily save you 30-60% of the standard costs without sacrificing anything in efficiency or outcomes.
Adaptation to Change
The widespread adoption of hybrid work has introduced a lot of changes to the way people work. Among other things, employees are reporting stress and burnout at higher levels than ever before—and a lot of it has to do with managers.
By streamlining an executive’s day-to-day work, a remote assistant can help improve the quality of management that they provide. EAs that help out in project management can also ensure better time management for all involved, leading to clearer and healthier boundaries between work and personal time.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Executives
If you’re looking to hire an executive assistant of your own, it pays to prepare. Taking time to lay the groundwork will get you much better results while minimizing frustration (and you won’t spend any time correcting ‘bad habits’ that might form in the interim).
So consider these when bringing an executive assistant onboard.
Robust Recruitment Process
Clearly define the role and expectations when drafting a job description. Outline required skills, daily/weekly tasks, communication protocols, and performance metrics.
Also, make a checklist for training the new assistant. Schedule meetings to go through their duties, tools they’ll use, and accounts they’ll access. Share documents and contacts they need.
Before their work begins, make sure you’ve scheduled some time to check their progress and give feedback. While EAs might work on the basis of contracts, their work is generally a long-term role, so it also pays to set goals or KPIs for them as far as 30 or 60 days out.
Remember: a deliberate training process will lead to an effective assistant.
Communication and Collaboration Tools
Communication can be one of the more challenging aspects of remote collaboration. That’s why your EA should be equipped with the right executive assistant tools.
When bringing your EA onboard, make sure to set a standard for communication (even if you revise these later on). Explain expected response times, methods of contact, and key contacts. Get them set up with a company email (and accounts on any internal comms platforms you might use, like Slack).
Also, make sure to supply them with appropriate resources and training materials for communication procedures, as well as any style guides that might be required for your business or industry.
Establishing clear communication protocols through explanations, guidance, and ongoing feedback mechanisms allows for productive collaboration and effective assistance.
Make Use of Specialized Platforms
While there’s a whole host of options for hiring a virtual executive assistant, a lot of them can be time-consuming (e.g., searching online job markets) or unreliable (e.g., working with inexperienced recruiters).
Your best bet for finding your perfect match in a virtual EA is turning to a recruitment agency or service that specializes in hiring remote EAs. Many of these offer the added benefit of guiding you in onboarding or providing ongoing account support.
The Best Virtual Executive Assistants You’ll Find
This only scratches the surface of what’s ahead for virtual executive assistants. AI and other changes to the internet will continue to require companies to adapt. EAs will have a lot of roles to grow into, including as testers or teachers of new digital tools or platforms.
And as hiring practices change based on where and how people live and what they prioritize in a career, a virtual assistant for executives will be a valuable alternative in sourcing the talent you need to grow your business.
If you need a high-level virtual assistant you can count on, let us know. Magic can find an EA with the skills and experience you need. Book a call today to get started!
Match With a Vetted Virtual Assistant in 72 Hours!