The global gig economy is projected to hit $455.2 billion in gross volume in 2023. As part of the broader remote work movement, it shows that businesses are starting to see the value of alternative, flexible work arrangements. One career that has taken off in this space is that of the virtual assistant, with 67% of businesses hiring at least one virtual assistant in 2021.
But why should YOU hire a virtual assistant? What value can they bring to your business? And how can you find them?
What are the Trends Behind Hiring Virtual Assistants from Abroad?
Hiring virtual assistants from abroad has itself become a game-changing trend for intrepid solopreneurs and small business owners.
But what are the ‘behind-the-scene’ trends that have led to the rise of the virtual assistant? By understanding the current remote work landscape, you’ll be able to extract the maximum potential from your hire.
A surge in remote-friendly startups has reshaped how we work. Companies like Zapier, Buffer, and GitLab have shown that it's possible to build successful businesses with a fully remote or distributed workforce.
Entrepreneurs and business owners are also realizing the potential benefits of remote work in running a lean business with minimal overhead and access to a global talent pool.
Better High-Speed Internet
The rapid expansion of high-speed internet access is leading the charge in the current tech revolution.
With fiber-optic networks becoming more accessible and the dawn of 5G technology, network bottlenecks are becoming a thing of the past. It’s easier than ever to communicate and collaborate asynchronously and synchronously across the world.
The rise of the freelance, or gig, economy has flown under the radar but is starting to infiltrate mainstream business in a big way.
As many as 78% of business owners are looking to hire freelance talent. Entrepreneurs and CEOs are seeing the value of tapping into a highly diverse and flexible workforce, of which virtual assistants are just one possibility.
This trend allows businesses to scale up or down quickly, and is a cost-effective way to handle specialized tasks.
Flexibility in work arrangements is no longer a luxury but a necessity to compete for global talent.
There’s no denying that worker expectations have shifted dramatically, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just over half of employees already work under flexible terms. 81% of workers say they would be more loyal to employers that offer flexible work arrangements.
Businesses that offer flexible work options have a distinct edge in attracting, landing, and keeping top talent.
Remote Hiring Tools
The growing availability of advanced tools and services, such as Global HR and Employer of Record solutions, has streamlined the process of hiring and managing virtual assistants from abroad.
These tools simplify compliance with international employment regulations, handle payroll and benefits, and ensure a seamless experience for both employers and remote workers.
Why Should You Hire Virtual Assistants from Abroad?
If you’re not sold on the idea of hiring a remote virtual assistant just yet, here are some compelling reasons why should you hire a virtual assistant for your business.
By taking advantage of the cost of living discrepancies, you can save a lot of dough by hiring remotely. Not only in salaries but also in minimizing costs associated with having a physical office space, such as furniture, rent, utilities, cleaning and maintenance, etc.
Access Global Talent
With the rise of remote work, you can tap into a diverse range of skills, experiences, perspectives, and expertise from across the globe.
Whether you need assistance with content writing, graphic design, customer support, or any other task, you can find the perfect match. With a projected 1.59 billion freelancers globally, the sky is literally the limit.
Fill a Gap in Skills
As a solopreneur or small business owner in the gig economy, you may wear many hats yourself. But, you can’t be an expert in everything.
Hiring virtual assistants from a global talent pool allows you to fill highly specific skill gaps on demand.
Need a social media guru, a tech whiz, or an accounting pro? You can find them without the hassle of recruitment and training. And, once the project is done, so is your commitment to each other.
Reinvest Savings into Growth
When you save on operational costs by hiring virtual assistants from abroad, you free up resources that can be reinvested into business growth.
Whether it's expanding your product line, increasing your marketing, or exploring new markets, these savings provide you with the financial flexibility needed to take your business to the next level.
What Types of Businesses Can Benefit from Virtual Assistants?
Nearly any business looking to optimize resources and save costs can find some benefit in hiring virtual assistants.
However, these are some examples of where virtual assistants have proven to be particularly beneficial:
- Real Estate: You can hire a real estate virtual assistant to handle admin, like managing property listings, coordinating appointments, and conducting market research. This allows realtors to focus on managing client relationships and closing deals.
- Healthcare: Healthcare providers and practices can hire virtual assistants to handle appointment scheduling, patient data management, medical billing, and insurance claims processing.
- Marketing and Advertising: Virtual assistants can carry out market research, social media management, content creation, and email marketing campaigns.
- Legal Services: Legal professionals can delegate research, document preparation, client communication, and appointment scheduling to virtual assistants.
- E-commerce/Amazon: You can hire Amazon virtual assistants to manage product listings, monitor inventory, optimize product descriptions, and provide customer support. Not to mention keep an eye on competitors, market trends, and run ad campaigns.
- Tech Startups: Startups often require multifaceted support, ranging from customer support to software testing. Virtual assistants with technical skills can help startups dramatically scale their operations.
- Coaching and Consulting: Virtual assistants can manage appointment bookings, client communication, invoicing, and content creation.
- Blogging/Content Marketing: Virtual assistants can help with content research, writing, editing, publishing, and managing a team of writers/editors, ensuring a consistent flow of high-quality content.
Where can I hire English-Speaking Virtual Assistants from Abroad?
According to a study by Oxford Economics, countries, like India, Indonesia, and South Africa, will experience a talent surplus.
While you shouldn’t limit your search to these countries, they will provide fertile ground for finding English-speaking virtual assistants:
- Philippines: Known for its proficient English speakers, the Philippines offers a vast pool of virtual assistants skilled in various tasks, including customer support, content creation, and administrative work.
- Vietnam: Vietnam offers a growing number of tech-savvy virtual assistants skilled in programming, web development, and design.
- India: Renowned for its IT expertise, India’s massive population has given rise to a huge freelance community proficient in software development, digital marketing, and data analysis.
- Ukraine: Ukraine has a growing number of virtual assistants who are proficient in English and possess strong IT skills.
- Pakistan: Pakistan is emerging as a hub for virtual assistants with expertise in customer support, content writing, and digital marketing.
- South Africa: South Africa provides a pool of English-speaking virtual assistants with a good understanding of Western business practices. They excel in tasks like administrative support, research, and project management.
The availability and range of platforms to hire remote, freelance platforms have also exploded in recent years. While there are many more out there, some with highly specialized niches, these are some of the top channels to start your hunt for talent:
- LinkedIn: Find experienced virtual assistants, often with detailed profiles
- Upwork: A freelance marketplace with options to review ratings and past work
- Fiverr: Similar to Upwork, with a focus on gig-based projects and quick turnarounds
- Online Job Boards: Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Remote.co post virtual assistant job listings
- Online Communities: Niche online communities and forums like Reddit's r/forhire or specialized virtual assistant forums
- Agencies: Agencies like Shepherd, Athena, and Magic provide remote talent for US-based and high-growth businesses
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Virtual Assistant?
When you hire virtual assistants from countries like the Philippines, India, or Eastern Europe, you can expect to save a significant amount on labor costs compared to hiring locally. According to Payscale, the average rate for virtual assistants is $17.57/hour, with some entrepreneurs reportedly paying as little as $2.50/hour for hires from third-world countries.
However, you may find there is a significant variation in cost due to a difference in skills, demand, and level of experience. Here are some approximations for different types of virtual assistants:
- Administrative Tasks: Email management, appointment scheduling, and data entry can cost as low as $5 to $10 per hour, whereas hiring a local administrative assistant might cost you $15 to $25 per hour or more.
- Content Creation: Content writers or bloggers can be hired for approximately $20 to $30 per hour, whereas a local content writer might charge $25 to $50 per hour.
- Graphic Design: Remote graphic designers may have rates ranging from $10 to $30 per hour, while local graphic designers often charge $30 to $100 per hour.
- Customer Support: Remote customer reps typically cost between $10 to $20 per hour, compared to the $20 to $40 per hour you might pay for local customer service.
- Data Analysis: A virtual assistant with the necessary skills can be hired for approximately $15 to $30 per hour, whereas local data analysts might charge $40 to $80 per hour.
Depending on the exact role, you could save your business between 30-70% in labor expenses.
From cost savings to accessing a global talent pool and filling skill gaps, virtual assistants empower business owners to focus on what truly matters—growth, innovation, and achieving their goals.
By exploring all the options available to them, any business owner can employ this invaluable resource. It’s a single, but impactful, step of running a lean, agile, and future-proof business in the ever-evolving global economy.