What is a virtual assistant? Check out the most frequently asked questions and answers on virtual assistants and Assistant Solutions' methodology and approach
General FAQ on Virtual Assistants
Typical tasks include but are not limited to, calendar and inbox management, travel planning, research, bookkeeping (including following up on outstanding invoices), data entry, proofing documents, editing documents, transcribing audio and video, and client follow-up. Of course, there is a myriad of other tasks a virtual assistant can undertake, depending on their level of skill and expertise.
Virtual assistants typically work from home, but can be based anywhere as long as they have the right equipment to administer tasks. It works best if they are in the same or a similar time-zone as their clients.
Anyone can have a virtual assistant, from small businesses and entrepreneurs to executives at large corporations. Individuals are also tapping into this service as a way of gaining extra help to accomplish personal projects.
The objective of an assistant, virtual or not, is to alleviate your to-do list so that your time is freed up to focus on other important and critical tasks. A virtual assistant can handle the day-to-day running of your office, your administrative duties and help with your time management just as effectively as an onsite assistant. The advantages of working with a virtual assistant include having greater flexibility in stopping and starting a service, more control on the number of hours worked, and a saving on remuneration costs (including benefits) which are typically associated with employing an onsite permanent assistant. All-in-all, the time and money saved by having a virtual assistant is time and money gained for your business.
There are many great ways to collaborate on documents remotely, for example Microsoft OneDrive is a practical choice if you need your virtual assistant to collaborate on a working document with you or your team and maintain version control. They can also collaborate on a document at the same time as another team member.
FAQ on Assistant Solutions
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Questions & Answers on Hours
To get an idea of what can be accomplished in the three monthly subscription packages, I have put together an indicative table which outlines possible tasks that could fit into the three time-frames, see below:
|Basic Package – 20 hours p/m||Plus Package – 40 hours p/m||Pro Package – 60 hours p/m|
Yes. For the Basic package, you can go up to 39 hours per month with the same hourly rate. Similarly, for the Plus package, you can go up to 59 hours a month. For the Pro package, you can go up to 80 hours per month.
Working flexible hours on a necessity basis, instead of engaging in a full-time commitment allows you to scale up when your workload is heavier and pull back when it’s not. Consequently, it’s also more cost effective.
If, for example, you choose the Basic package, you will have 20 hours of allocated time in a month. This means 20 hours can be allocated to a specific task or to a range of tasks each month. Each time a task is completed, your Time Allocation will reduce with respect to the amount of time taken to complete that task.
I use Toggl, a time-tracking app, which times each task in 15-minute increments. By the end of each week, you will receive a report which sets out the tasks completed and your Time Allocation balance.
If you subscribe to the Plus or Pro package, you can roll-over up to 5 or 10 unused hours into the subsequent month respectively. This means that if you are experiencing a quieter month than usual and you do not need the full number of hours, up to 5 or 10 unused hours can be moved into the following month. For the Basic package, unused hours cannot be rolled over.
Any scheduled working hours that are affected by annual leave or sickness, will be rolled over into the next available working day or a working date agreeable to you.
If you require cover during my absence, I am a member of the Society of Virtual Assistants in the UK and have access to experienced virtual assistants all over the country who may be available to substitute.
During our free initial consultation, I will let you know of any scheduled annual leave and I will include the dates in your calendar as a reminder. In addition, I will notify you by email up to 4 weeks in advance of scheduling annual leave. If I should fall sick, I will notify you by 8am on the first day of sickness.
Questions & Answers on Working Together
There are various methods, for example you can email documents to me directly, or you can use Microsoft OneDrive to send me a link to the document in your OneDrive cloud. Dropbox is another good option if you need to send very large files.
I use Microsoft Office 365 which includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. For sharing and collaboration on documents, I use OneDrive and Dropbox. For video conferencing, I use Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp. I also have printing and scanning facilities.
For a convenient and fast way to provide access to inboxes and calendars, Clients tend to share web-based email accounts, for example Outlook.com or gmail.com. Alternatively, you can add me to your Microsoft Exchange Global Address List and grant the necessary permissions for your inbox and calendar management.
Good communication with your virtual assistant is key, especially as virtual assistants work remotely. Which form of communication and the frequency is down to your preference and availability. I am available through phone, email, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp and SMS from Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm UK time.
Questions & Answers on Subscriptions
Yes. Your workload may be heavier in some months and less so in others, so it’s important that you have the flexibility to upgrade or downgrade as many times as you need. I request a notice period of one month to accommodate the change and for the new subscription to take effect.
You can cancel your subscription at any time by giving one month notice in writing. One month will start on the same day you give notice.
Questions & Answers on Payment
For PAYG, you will receive an invoice on the last business day of the week. For monthly subscriptions, payment is set-up as a standing order and taken on the agreed date each month.
Questions & Answers on Privacy
You only need to provide personal data if you require organisational services such as travel arrangements, restaurant bookings or if you need online purchases to be made on your behalf. In order to provide a seamless service, relevant personal data is requested at the time of onboarding before any work is carried out. You will receive a password protected and encrypted Required Information Form, which sets out the information needed from you.
Yes, another great way to provide this information securely is through LastPass.com. LastPass is a password management site that not only stores your passwords and personal data safely but also allows you to share the information with anyone you want without having to provide it directly. For example, you can save your login information in LastPass with the option to share it with whomever you want. They will not be able to see your password but will be able to access your website account without having to enter your login details. Similarly, if an online purchase needs to be made on your behalf, you can save your card details in LastPass and share the link. The purchaser will not be able to see your card details, instead your details will be automatically added at the time of checkout. Please note that the three-digit code on the back of your card may still be required. For more information, please visit https://www.lastpass.com/how-lastpass-works
I work independently and do not outsource to third parties or subcontractors. Should you request a substitute virtual assistant to cover in my absence, the substitute will sign an NDA before handover, and upon completing the service they will securely dispose of personal and confidential data.
Active security measures:
Privacy security measures: