The job of an executive assistant (EA) is to make the life of an executive (business owners or C-level executives) easier. These professionals are often tasked with a wide range of activities that don’t require the executive’s full attention, so they’ll have the time and mental space to deal with those tasks only they can do.
This often means that the EA will represent their employer in communication with customers, business partners, or other executives. They may also be tasked with staff supervision, report making, or organizing their employer’s entire schedule.
In a nutshell, the EA is the force that covers their boss’s administrative needs and the one who keeps things going for them while they work on new products, mergers, or other important stuff.
So, considering the role of an EA has such a level of importance, is it wise to work with someone who is not physically present (remote)? Or, better yet, should you just hire a virtual assistant (VA)?
In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of having a remote EA vs. a virtual assistant and provide a few tips on making the right decision.
Remote vs. Virtual – What’s the Difference?
The main differences between a remote EA and a VA boil down to your needs. Both positions are designed to provide support and help with various administrative tasks, but the EA is a better fit for complex tasks that require a high level of trust.
A VA is an independent contractor that you often hire on an hourly basis and assign a series of tasks. They are often located in a different country (not mandatory) and communicate with you online via email, video calls, chat messages, and so on. Plus, you are not their sole employer, and depending on pricing, the time dedicated to solving your tasks is limited.
A remote EA, on the other hand, is often made available to you by a professional agency that does a thorough vetting process and recommends people based on how well their skills pair with your needs.
Pros & Cons for Each
When you hire an EA, you’re looking for someone who can help unload your schedule by taking over important aspects of the business. This requires a certain level of trust in that person’s skills and determination, so you shouldn’t work with someone you found on a job dashboard online.
EAs bring strong communication skills, good organization, smart decision-making, and a good presence of spirit in unexpected situations. On the other hand, they require full-time payment and must stay in touch daily.
VAs are less expensive (paid by the hour) and less intrusive into your life. However, you can’t trust them to handle low-level meetings or have introductory meetings with high-level partners and execs. Plus, if they are in a different timezone, it may be difficult to maintain an open line of communication.
In both cases, the onboarding experience is different, but you may still have to help a new employee or collaborator integrate with the team
The difference between hiring a remote EA or a VA stands in your needs and budget. If you can afford a reliable EA, it may take longer to find one that fits your needs, but once you do, things will improve.
On the other hand, a VA is best at handling routine tasks that you don’t want to burden your employees with. Both are useful to a business owner or executive, but you need to understand their role in the grand scheme of things.