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  • Lyn Ebon

How Are Virtual Assistants Different Than Regular Employees?

Updated: Feb 2



If you’re reading this, you’re likely curious about how a virtual assistant can fit within your organization. One of the most common questions received about virtual assistants is the difference between one and a regular employee. Let’s take a look at how virtual assistants differ from traditional employees as well as the things they have in common.


Status


The most basic difference between a traditional employee and a virtual assistant is their working status. A traditional employee is someone that you will have on your payroll. They will be a member of your organization and you will issue them a W-2.


By comparison, a virtual assistant is an independent contractor. They are not a member of your organization and are issued 1099-NEC forms instead of W-2s. A virtual assistant may only work for your organization, or they may work for several companies.



Cost


Another big difference is the cost. When you have an employee, you pay their salary, FICA taxes, paid leave, and benefits. Thus, you end up paying much more than just the cost of the hours that they put in for your business.


However, with virtual assistants, you only pay them for their time. If a virtual assistant works 80 hours for you in a month, you pay them for 80 hours of work and nothing more. In other words, virtual assistants are a more cost-effective endeavor than traditional employment.



Location


Typically, traditional employees will be working on site at your company’s location. They may also be remote, particularly with the increase in remote work brought upon by the pandemic. Or they could have a hybrid arrangement.


Meanwhile, a virtual assistant works remotely. Most virtual assistants will work from a home office. However, with the plethora of technology available, they can still be a quick click or phone call away.



Term of Employment


When you have a traditional employee, you are almost always hiring them for ongoing employment. This means you plan to have them on your staff going forward. This is great for many arrangements but not always what your business needs.


However, you can readily hire virtual assistants for short term, seasonal, or project-specific work. You can also have an ongoing relationship. This is great because it adds flexibility into your business’ approach. It is easy to scale the work to your needs and stay within your budget on projects.



Knowledge & Skills


When hiring a new employee, you may have someone that comes in with specific skills needed for the job or you may end up engaging in a lot of training. It really depends on the applicant pool. Even if someone has the knowledge, you may need to train them in how things work in your organization.


Virtual assistants typically have a lot of experience coming into organizations and quickly adapting to their ways of doing things. Additionally, virtual assistants tend to come with the major skills you need already in place and well developed. This can result in less training time and an easier onboarding process.




What Do Virtual Assistants and Employees Have in Common?


With all of the differences between virtual assistants and employees, it is still important to note that there are a number of things that they do have in common.


Accountability


Ultimately, both employees and virtual assistants are accountable for the quality of work they produce. This means you will be providing supervision to both; however, experienced virtual assistants often do need less supervision and are quite receptive to constructive criticism.


Dedication


Obviously, traditional employees tend to be dedicated to the work they do and the organization for which they work. Many people who have never hired a virtual assistant before are worried about losing this quality. Fortunately, you’ll find that virtual assistants take great pride in their work and are quite dedicated to their jobs and the organizations that hire them even for temporary projects.


Teamwork


With traditional employees, teamwork is very important. Employees will develop rapport with other members in the office and often collaborate on projects. This can also be the case with virtual assistants, depending upon the work they are hired for. Virtual assistants will tend to build relationships with the people they most frequently work with. While it may develop a bit slower, you’ll see strong teamwork skills from virtual assistants as well.


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