Opportunities for virtual assistants—the human version, not Alexa and Siri—have been rising steadily in recent years as more and more business is conducted remotely and online. Some VAs get their start as full-time employees or in a professional network or association, and many more are freelancers and part timers who offer their virtual assistant services and secure assistant jobs on platforms like Upwork and Guru.
Virtual assistant jobs come with a lot of perks. For one, virtual assistants can work and complete their job duties from anywhere—home, a coffee shop or co-working space, or even while traveling. Additionally, VAs can keep a flexible schedule and take on clients and tasks and provide services as desired. For those looking for a viable career outside of a traditional 9-to-5 job, virtual assistant services are increasingly in demand.
Life as a VA isn’t just working a few hours a day while at home, checking off items on your to-do list in your pajamas and ducking out early for happy hour, however. For many, it’s actually a fine balancing act of addressing clients’ needs, meeting deadlines, and keeping some separation between their work and personal lives.
“I think working virtually has innate challenges,” says Raquel Wilson, owner of the virtual assistant business Peachtree Virtual Assistants. “You have to be really organized and a top-notch communicator. If you’re not either of those things—working as a VA or working from home, in general, is probably not for you.”
Although Wilson does have a routine for her “average” day, it can vary based on her workload and to-do list and her husband and kids’ schedules. She also manages a team of virtual assistants, so some of her time is spent coordinating and communicating with her co-workers both online and in real life. With so many puzzle pieces to fit together every day, she jumps back and forth between billable time and personal duties—and often finds herself multitasking.
“Many people think that by working as a VA, you can be with your kids 100 percent of the time, take on multiple clients, only work a few hours a day, and make a lot of money,” she says. “That equation just doesn't add up!”
For example, she wakes up at 7 am to make breakfast for her family and checks her email and Slack messages while they eat. After school drop-offs, she heads to her co-working space, where some of her team members also work, and hits the ground running. The rest of the day might look like this:
9:30 am - 10 am: Reviews tasks, deadlines, calls, and priorities for the day using online project-management tools and Google calendar.
10 am - 12:30 pm: Works on projects, client calls, team calls, and interviewing new potential clients.
12:30 pm - 1 pm: Takes a short break for lunch, a quick walk, or personal errands.
1 pm - 2:30 pm: Continues working on client projects, answering questions from the team, interviewing new potential clients, and other tasks.
2:30 pm - 4 pm: Leaves for school pickups, kid time, and prepping after-school snacks and dinner. Wilson says she is available to her team and clients via email, phone, Slack or text during this time but is not actively working on projects.
4 pm - 5 pm: When her husband gets home, she jumps back into work mode to tie up loose ends on projects and answer emails before the end of the business day.
Late evening: Wilson checks in one more time to prep for the following day, finish up open projects, and answer emails from her team so they are prepared as well.
Although she stays busy and is often under pressure, Wilson says building her VA business has been one of the most rewarding experiences in her professional life, and not just financially. She and her team are able to use their skills to have a positive impact on their clients’ businesses and take on projects they are passionate about, like an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs and a nonprofit that works with refugees.
“As a VA, you're a vital piece of keeping businesses running smoothly, and there is a lot of pressure in that if you're taking it seriously,” she says. “We are honored that our clients really do view us as a critical part of their team. It's not a role we take lightly.”