A virtual office assistant is a person who works from home for either a single company or various companies who have extra office work that needs to be completed. The assistant usually works in several areas of expertise in a professional-office at home environment ranging from medical data entry to general office work.
Most virtual office assistants work as employees of temporary agencies, either as a temporary assistant for a specific task or as a freelancer who is matched with various tasks because of the skills and abilities.
In most cases, assistants are allowed to determine how many hours a week they will work and what type of work would be assigned to them. They reserve the freedom to be able to reject work that they in which they would not excel and accept appropriate projects for their own skills.
A typical day in the life of a virtual office assistant could involve business meetings over the phone, reading and answering email, scheduling, researching information on the Internet, meeting deadlines on their various tasks and other secretarial services.
Specific duties may include clerical work such as data entry and word processing, analytical duties or accountant work such as bookkeeping and payroll preparation. In some cases, an assistant may make travel arrangements, conduct customer service or sales, coach or train other employees, prepare legal or medical documents or design and manage websites.
A successful virtual office assistant will know how to type, have good phone communication skills and good writing skills, have an understanding of billing processes, know how to prepare presentations and understand desktop publishing.
Assistants can earn between $10 and $35 an hour based on their understanding and experience with these skills, and virtual administrative assistants may earn more if they have addition skills the company requires.
Since virtual office assistants work at home, most companies who hire the assistants request that there be a specific area in the house that is only used for office work. The assistant is also responsible for purchasing all of the software required for the position. The Software needed may include Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Windows Live.
Tools used by assistants include fax machines, personal computers, photocopy machines, home-based telephone systems and scanners. Other tools may be used depending on the specific duties of the assistant.
Since the assistant is running their own office, they must have strong self-management skills, set schedules for themselves, and stay focused on the tasks they are assigned. In cases where the person is a temporary assistant, it might be necessary to jump from one set of duties to an entire new set of duties overnight, causing a sudden shift in focus for the assistant. For this reason, assistants have good filing for every assignment as to not deliver incorrect data. Some companies require virtual office assistants to work specific shifts to coincide with the company's needs. If that it the case, the home office should be free from outside distractions during that time if possible.