I have been working since I was 14 years old. I started off like most teenagers working in fast food establishments. After graduating business school, I began working in various office settings. Flash forward twenty years later, it's 6 a.m. and I am sitting on the edge of my bed trying to mentally prepare myself for the two hour traffic only to work eight hours and turn around to fight the same traffic back home again. Some might say take public transportation and I would simply reply that I live in Atlanta--and I wish it was that simple and easy. I never really thought about it much, yeah, sure four hours a day, every day for five days is twenty hours. What could I do with those extra twenty hours--it's like having a part-time job but you don't get paid. I just brushed it off as a part of life and continued "living".
When my vehicle died on me and my carpool partner decided to seek employment with another firm, I told my dilemma to my supervisor regarding my problem getting to and from work. Leaving at four in the morning to walk 1.4 miles to the nearest express bus, take a train to the city, having to take another bus and walk another mile to the office was not feasible, especially if there was no guarantee that I would actually arrive to the office on time. Without hesitation, my supervisor approved my clearance to work from home until I was able to buy a car.
My first day working from home was weird. I was in my bathrobe wearing fuzzy slippers, with my favorite mug in hand, drinking MY favorite coffee while I sat at my kitchen table ready to start the workday; how cool is that. I was able to function just as if I were sitting in my cubicle. I was able to send and respond to emails, answer phone calls, and I completed all work assignments given to me in a timely manner. I was also able to attend our department's weekly team meetings by conference call and Skype. Most days my work was completed by 2 p.m. It's funny, but I was more productive working from home than in my office. Maybe the distraction of cubicle visits from co-workers who wanted to show me their new boots or a new outfit, or pictures of the kids. Maybe it was the constant chit chat that I would encounter on my way to the copy machine, break room, or bathroom. There were some days when I would be scrambling just to finish up by daily workload by 5 pm. A few weeks of working from home, I was rocking it, dinner would be done by 5, clothes were washed and dried, not a dish remained in the sink and my "work" never suffered; I never skipped a beat. It was the best thing, having the best of both worlds home and work; it's like peanut butter and jelly it just goes together.
Reality set in after I purchased my car and had to return back to the office. It was depressing to say the least. I actually developed an attitude because I didn't really understand why I had to be there--in the office--to the work. Granted, everyone can't work from home and stay on task. It is the very same reason why some students cannot take online classes and require a classroom setting. A virtural assistant first and far most must be disciplined. They should be disciplined to know that there is work to be completed. Bottom line. Virtual assistants should be disciplined and adhere to deadlines and fulfill obligations as promised. A disciplined virtual assistant can be the puppeteer- pulling the strings from behind to curtain, creating a seamless, invisible administrative support which can be utilized and called upon when needed.
Further, there are some advantages and disadvantages for businesses and employers when hiring a virtual assistant. The biggest advantage is the financial aspect of not having to pay for insurance, payroll, taxes, sick days, vacation days, over-time, or give out bonuses, raises or promotions. I mean no wrongful termination or sexual harassment suits would exist which are always an issue when trying to lay off or fire an employee. The disadvantage or should I dare say, what most employers and businesses fear is losing control of the service, product or work. Like anything in business, you have to have trust. My first client was my previous employer, yes, he was familiar with my work and he was happy with it, but I know that if I had not known him and if he knew nothing about me or my work, I am very certain that had I pitched my business to him, he would have turned down my proposal to offer my services. It's all about trust and with that he has referred others to me which I am grateful.
Finally, the proof is in the pudding, check out references, really research and do your homework before you hire any contract worker. Contracting a virtual assistant for small assignments or short-term projects can be a great way get the additional help, you need without making a long-term commitment such as hiring someone full-time for part-time warranted work.
I was able to find a niche that works for me and if you check out my website, you might learn that it could work for you too. www.typethis.biz