(typically abbreviated to VAs
), are business owners who provide professional
administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients — usually other independent entrepreneurs and consultancy small businesses
. Virtual Assistants work from their own office (hence "virtual"), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession in centralized economies with "fly-in, fly-out
" (FIFO) staffing practices. It is estimated that there are as few as 5,000-8,000 or as many as 35,000 Virtual Assistants worldwide.
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, et cetera.
Virtual assistant may also refer to an automated Conversational agent or so-called Chatterbot.
- The traditional employee is managed and directed by the employer they work for. They are paid a salary with employment taxes deducted by the employer. Work is directed, managed and supervised by the employer.
- A temp worker is an employee of a staffing agency who goes on-site to employer (customer) premises. They are paid by the staffing agency they work for, while their on-site work and activities are managed, directed and supervised by the employer, who is a customer of the staffing agency.
- A virtual assistant is an independently contracted business owner, not an employee. They work out of their own offices, manage the work from their clients and how it is carried out, set their own rates, as well as operating standards and policies, and pay their own self-employment taxes.
- Virtual assistants help small businesses expand their business instead of dealing with administration duties. Virtual assistants are cost effective because you only pay them when they work. Since they are independent contractors they are tax deductible.