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Sian Winfield, founder of PA&GO, explores the possibilities of virtual assistant services in today’s digital economy.

Now is a very exciting time to be living and working – the unrelenting wave of digital technology has revolutionised the world of work, and more importantly, it has changed the way we as people navigate business. Even the work we do, the way we do it, and where we do it is changing rapidly. The people who will thrive in this fluctuating environment are the people who will embrace the delicate balance between flexibility and connectivity in business.

In an innovative way of meeting the challenge of providing a people-centred approach to tech startups, entrepreneurial ideas and small businesses, it’s time we redefined the idea of virtual assistance.

A startup revolution

In the new economy, there now exists an unparalleled wave of entrepreneurial growth. A steady influx of online business, and also traditional businesses that are expanding due to digital tech, allows people to work from anywhere. It provides a huge opportunity to build stronger, more expansive, and more globally connected companies – all from an idea and a laptop. These entrepreneurs are increasingly building businesses and continuing their operations on a lean budget, economising and tapping into creative resources to grow.

This pioneering stage for global, entrepreneurial business acts as a catalyst for change and innovation in the world of work, and is spawning a new generation of workers who carry digital aptitude, an entrepreneurial mindset, and the capacity to work easily in a fast paced environment.

Operational support and running a business

While it’s become easier than ever to start a business, the day-to-day operations of keeping a startup afloat and running it can make or break a company.

Startups and small businesses run on people – not purely on ideas. Human capital is probably one of the most important assets for any entrepreneur. Once you have that mindset, building the right team of EAs, PAs, interns, team assistants, coordinators, executives, managers, directors, and founders allows for a synergy in bringing to life a business vision and strategy.

The new wave of digital and mobile tech has evolved the way we work however, in that we are always connected and have more ways of reaching people all over the world than ever before. Technology has broken down traditional barriers that have kept us apart, increasing the ways in which we communicate and do business with each other.

The case for virtual support and virtual working

With more and more employers and employees quickly adopting the methods of flexible working, telecommuting and remote working in their companies, this is increasingly becoming the norm in recruitment packages. But how can startups take this one step further?

The virtual working revolution doesn’t just provide benefits for the employee. For small and large businesses alike, the increased flexibility with when you want your team member to work and streamlining that down to just productive hours also acts as an appealing prospect. Moreover, the reduction in overheads from office desk to holiday pay to employee perks all dramatically reduces costs from an onsite member of staff, increasing the margin for growth.

Challenging perceptions in a changing culture

In today’s digital economy, virtual assistance is the way forward, but rather than thinking traditionally, we are truly finding that a collection of virtual assistants act more like a dedicated team of consultants or freelancers. Many tasks for basic admin support are becoming digitised – from travel booking to expenses. However, today’s virtual assistant isn’t just an operator to handle phone calls.

These days a virtual assistant can code, handle social media, write compelling content, do graphic design, handle recruitment, manage budgets or finances, keep up with clients, do research – any of the above and more – depending on his or her expertise. For entrepreneurs, startups, and forward-thinking organisations, you can build a lean team where roles and responsibilities fluctuate and evolve – a specialised and multigenerational team.

Companies who adopt this type of working style are no longer burdened by recruiting in a specific postcode. A business can attract talent from all over the world, building a global community around a brand, with local presence. In turn, the ‘office’ (if there is one at all) now becomes a centre for collaboration and brainstorming and having access to your device, not your desk, is essential.

And for lean, agile startups, it’s not just about the work – more and more employees are leaving the corporate and traditional office structure to more meaningful and balanced roles – that they either create themselves as entrepreneurs, or in a company that can provide flexibility – that more closely aligns with an integrated view of their entire lifestyle and values.

This allows for companies to work smarter, not harder, and to acclimate to the changing landscape of technology and connectivity that is driving so much change in all areas of life. That being said, the human element is still paramount and is needed more than ever – and as such, having a service that provides that consultative and trusted virtual team under one roof that delivers the personal touch with a professional service is an excellent option for startups and entrepreneurs.