Vivek, who runs his own advertising agency, has opted to hire Shraddha as his secretary. She has been working with him for eight months now, has never missed a deadline, and they share a great professional rapport. The only thing is they have never met!
Welcome to the world of virtual secretaries. Shraddha works from home, handles calls for Vivek, when he is in a meeting, prepares his reports, and makes presentations for him. He, in turn, just transfers her salary to her bank account when it is pay day.
Being a Virtual Secretary
A remote executive assistant, or a virtual secretary, is an offshoot of the fact that more and more enterprising young men and women are turning entrepreneurs. As we all know, for a business endeavor to be successful, it is of prime importance that deadlines are met, and visibility enhanced through marketing strategies. For this, an entrepreneur needs a secretary, or an assistant, to handle the administrative and social details of the organization. A couple of years back, an entrepreneur who needed an assistant would have shied away from hiring one early on in his business venture ,because of the prohibitive costs related to hiring an assistant. This involved, apart from a fixed salary, office space, a computer with an Internet access, telephone line, employee benefits like paid leave, insurance etc.
With a virtual assistant, all this can be done away with, and which is why, today, a lot of start ups and business ventures prefer to hire virtual assistants. Also, on the other side of the coin, as a career option for women, who want to stay home and still have a career, it is rapidly becoming a favourite. Sheetal, who gave up her regular job five years back, to become a stay-at-home mom says, ‘Now that my son is going to school, I have a few hours free during the day but not enough to go back to my earlier job. And then, last year my husband showed me an article in a Business magazine which talked about being a virtual secretary. I loved the concept and I joined my present company part time.’
Essentials of a Virtual Secretary
Apart from the usual tasks of handling calls, taking messages, preparing reports, ticketing and fixing appointments, the job profile of a remote executive assistant would also include providing social networking assistance (like creating a company profile on Facebook ), managing the company website, and carrying out Internet based research support.
So the essentials for becoming a virtual assistant are a telephone connection and a computer with Internet facility. With these and a drive to work and the will to be disciplined, this can well work out to be a satisfying alternate career.
Nowadays there are several placement companies that will help you in connecting with prospective employers, should you decide to choose this as a career option. These employers are not necessarily based in India. There are many companies based in the USA and UK, which hire virtual secretaries from India. The drawback would of course be the shift timings but then you also have the option of working only part time depending on your flexibility.