As the VA industry evolves and more people become aware of this excellent way of working, it is only natural that there are going to be companies developing who have a staff of virtual workers. We’ve been seeing this in India for sometime but now it’s expanding to other parts of the world, with at least one that I know of in the US and I became aware of another in the Philippines recently. I’m sure there are others too. And that’s not to mention the agencies that tap into the VA market – there are many of these also.
There is a very real difference between these companies and the Virtual Assistant networks which I want to share here. And I’ll add a comparison for you too.
My husband is an IT consultant who is employed by a sub-contracting company. They pay his wage, his holiday leave, his superannuation, taxes and any other entitlements. They also do the advertising, gain the clients and then advise my husband when he needs to do work for another client. He receives regular payslips from them but very rarely visits their office or has direct contact with the employer company. He actually does the work for one of their clients on the client premises or occasionally works here in our home office. My husband is an employee of that firm and it is that firm that gets paid by the client – not my husband. His wage is drawn from those funds.
Me – I’m a Virtual Assistant. I work for myself and have several clients. I invoice them on a regular basis for work that I’ve carried out. I belong to several Virtual Assistant networks and pay annual subscription fees to some and benefit from their joint advertising and promotions but must be pro-active in responding to job requests and securing the work, i.e. liaising with the client. I do not have an employer and I am responsible for my own taxes, insurances, superannuation, and whether I put anything away for annual leave. I’m also responsible for my own advertising and promotion and if something goes awry I really don’t have anyone else I can lean on for back up support – although I can post help! messages to VA forums for advice.
I see the Virtual Staffing companies in much the same light as my husband’s employment mentioned above. People who work for these companies are virtual workers but they are not Virtual Assistants, and I know that there have been discussions about this. Virtual Assistants are self-employed business operators, they are not employees of virtual staffing agencies.
I know that there are groups and agencies out there looking to develop in this area and they will be wanting to connect with existing Virtual Assistant networks so that they have a ready source of workers who are already well versed with working in this way, however there is still much work and discussion to be made in this area. VAs are used to setting their own rates and whilst some will take on sub-contract work (which is always at a somewhat lower rate) not all VAs will do this. It is a great idea for those just starting out, wanting to get experience and some regular income, but ultimately it could tie up their time from gaining clients of their own at a more reasonable rate, i.e. what the client will pay direct to the VA, not what the virtual worker receives from the agency.
If you’re looking to join the VA industry, do your homework and get connected with some of the VA networks out there. It is really worthwhile learning from those who are already working in this way and you’ll find that if you follow their footsteps you will achieve also. But, if you’re looking for the security of regular income and you don’t want to negotiate with clients for the work and pay, then joining the virtual workforce of a staffing agency might be the best option for you. KMT