The Philippines has been one of the fastest-growing hubs for outsourced staff and virtual assistants.
For years, big companies around the world have been using Filipino talents in expanding their businesses, proven by the many successful and long-established business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in the country’s major cities.
So, why the Philippines?
Right. Before we get to that, let us first understand why in the first place you need to hire a Virtual Assistant and to know a bit more about the process. Ready? Okay, here we go.
It’s already the 21st century and by now, almost everyone, especially those who are spending so much time in the digital world, surely have an idea what a virtual assistant is.
But if it’s your first time to hear about it, the most basic definition will be like this: a virtual assistant is someone you hire to remotely accomplish any task.
Business owners and entrepreneurs or just any busy person simply get one in order to free them from menial or repetitive tasks which they can otherwise pass on or delegate – may these be personal errands or administrative work.
What attracts most in getting a VA is that you get something done much faster and even more efficiently without so much spending on labor costs.
Eventually, the demand for virtual work has evolved from easy office tasks to diverse work requirements from many areas such as web design, SEO and content writing, payroll and accounting, digital marketing, social media management, real estate, and many others.
Now, let’s go back to your ‘why’. Let us lay this out this way:
- Are you someone who spends about 14 to 16 hours a day just to make sure everything runs smoothly in your business?
- Are you someone who can hardly identify between working hours and personal time?
- Would you rather be doing all this work all your life?
- Would you rather hire an extra pair of hands to load off that won’t cost you so much?
- Do you think you are ready to delegate and work with someone virtually?
- Is there any aspect of the business that’s best to be outsourced?
The above questions may not be all and may not be exactly what others have in mind, but are typically the kind of questions you can ask yourself if you are thinking to hire a virtual assistant.
There is just way too much to do in running and maintaining a business, and starting up is even more overwhelming.
So now, you are mind-blankly staring at your computer screen, noticing all the activities lined up in your calendar, the requisites of being the boss and for running the business solo. And, you’re now fully convinced that you really need help.
Next question is, how would you even start? Please keep reading…
How Do You Start?
In mostly everything, it’s when you’re starting that steps seem to be unclear and you often scramble on what to do first.
Calm down and don’t flip! Just take it easy.
Create a Task List
Start by identifying what you can and cannot do or what you can do but you would rather let someone else do it.
- Tasks that you are most capable of doing
- Tasks that you are not familiar with
- Tasks that can be easily handled by your VA
- Tasks that mostly consume your time
- Tasks that can help the business to improve
Through this, you can come up with a task list that you can spend more time on for your business, and a set of to-dos for your VA.
So, after outlining the tasks for your VA, the next step will be to know how much time you need him/her to spend with the tasks.
In here, you have to examine how much time you yourself would possibly spend to accomplish these tasks. Let us say, about ⅓ of your workload has to go to your VA which means this will take about 5 hours from your 16-hour working schedule.
There you have it: 5 hours to be able to complete those listed tasks every day. But what about the work schedule?
Well, for sure that’s another thing to be considered. Do you need your VA to work at the same time as you are? Or these tasks can be done while you are offline?
Quick Tip: For one, if you find it best to require your VA to work according to your schedule (sometimes, we’re talking about timezones here), you may do so at the beginning. But as the partnership progresses and once trust has already been established (which is really, really important if you are working with a remote staff), you can be more flexible with the timing.
Know Your Budget
There are certain factors that you have to consider when trying to come up with your pay scale for your VA. This includes the type of task or work requirement, experience level and location.
With a vast and diverse market of virtual workers online, you can find quality assistants starting from $3 per hour. However, paying a fair wage is still key. So, you can scale up the hourly rate from $6 to $12 for overseas workers while US VAs can get about $10 to $25 hourly.
A good employer gauges his staff’s work and who would not love some added bonus if you’re really doing well, right? So, you may also consider some reward schemes if the budget still allows.
Where Can You Find A Quality VA?
The digital workspace offers a wide marketplace of overflowing virtual assistant companies, outsourcing agencies, and independent contractors.
There is such a massive pool of skilled talents out there, waiting and watching the job portals for any vacant roles to be filled in. All you have to do is find the best place where you can post your job requirement.
Basically, you have the option to either hire an independent contractor or a freelancer, or engage with a 3rd party outsourcing service or VA company.
Independent Contractors or Freelancers
You may find a long list of job portals and online hiring websites to source out a qualified VA. However, with the many options available, it is quite difficult to select which among them is the most credible.
What can help you best is to check for the reviews, service rating, client feedback, and recommendations you can mostly find in the web. Try to also narrow down your list by going directly to the website and knowing in general all about the company.
- Directly hiring a freelance means lesser cost
- Specialized talent according to your needs
- Being fully involved in the screening and selection process
- Full control over task monitoring
- Possibility of long-term work engagement
- You do all the legwork
- Monitoring your VA’s work can also be time-consuming
- The tendency to do the whole rehiring process if the VA quits or not a good fit
- Confidentiality and security of the business might be at risk
Virtual Assistant Service and Outsourcing Companies
Some businesses also turn to VA service companies or outsourcing agencies who either have their own pool of talents or who will take care of the selection process for you.
Just like independent contractors, to ensure that you get a quality assistant, it’s always best to know the company you wish to hire and read through the available reviews and service ratings online.
Some agencies actually offer a free consultation by filling a specific form on their website to be able to connect to their outsourcing specialist. This option best helps you gauge the quality of the company’s service upfront by knowing how it all works in this first encounter.
- They take care of the tedious hiring and selection process
- You only jump in once its time to interview the shortlisted candidates
- They take care of the onboarding, payroll (most often), and performance monitoring
- A VA replacement in place if it does not work out or if the VA gets sick or quits
- Very minimal chance of confidentiality and security breach
- Power and internet sources are more secured which prevents work interruption (compared to home-based)
- Bigger budget allocation (some agencies may include insurance and performance bonus in the package)
- Mostly offers prepaid monthly plans which means that you pay ahead for the total month’s cost regardless of the quality of work you receive
The Selection Process
Once you get a shortlist of candidates that can move forward to the interview phase, it is important that you go through the profiles at hand to anchor your questioning.
Also, you may have to go back and review your checklist or job requirements to make sure that the candidates have checked out the most important points, if not all.
It’s best to conduct the interview process via a video call conference for about 15-20 minutes. The interview process should stimulate a conversational setting but not too casual, so the candidate would feel at ease. If the applicant feels comfortable, the more flowing his/her thoughts would be in responding to your questions.
Also, take this opportunity to get to know more about the applicant’s capacity by asking about his/her work background and what attracts him/her to the opportunity.
Situational questions such as possible challenges in the task would help in gauging the applicant’s quick thinking and decision making skills.
Trial Tasks or Trial Period
Prior to the final hiring process, you may also consider giving the applicants some trial tasks to measure their attention to details, quality of work, and deadline adherence. It can either be a one-time paid task or a series of tasks to be completed in a certain timeframe.
The candidates must be given similar tasks so you can compare results and from there, you can finally select who you should hire.
Now that you already have the idea about the whole VA hiring process, let us go back to the very reason why it’s best to hire virtual assistants in the Philippines.
Hiring Virtual Assistants from the Philippines
Filipino talents have established a reputation for their best work ethics, quality output and affordable labor cost. A lot of established global companies have built their workforce in metropolitan areas across the country, where all types of industries converge.
We have gathered some of the main reasons why foreign companies choose the Philippines when it comes to sourcing for quality virtual assistants.
The Philippines puts great value on education, thus, the country’s literacy rate is quite high. It has produced a driven, young workforce that only adds to the growing number of potential labor for the outsourcing industry.
Thus, the Philippines has become a powerhouse for most BPO companies and a producer of in-demand talent across the globe.
English as a Secondary Language
The English language has long been integrated into the country’s educational curriculum, from nursery to college levels. English is a widely spoken language, even at work. The fluency level that many Filipinos possess is an advantage, lowering the chance of communication issues.
Advantage from Time Zone Difference
The Philippines belongs to the South East Asian region and the time difference becomes a good thing for businesses that aim to provide 24/7 support to its clients. This means that while you are sleeping or offline, your Filipino VA is carrying out the work for you.
While there are good reasons to hire a Filipino VA, there are also a few considerations to take into account.
- Power Interruptions – The Philippines, as a developing country, gets to experience power outages in some areas which may be caused by a low power system or infrastructure damages due to strong storms and typhoons.
- Internet Connectivity Issues – A slow and unreliable internet connection has been a common concern in the country so it’s best to ask for a screenshot of the applicant’s SpeedTest result when you consider hiring a Filipino VA.
- Ghosting VAs – There are cases of VAs going MIA with the employer not really knowing the reason why. This is perceived as cultural shyness or passiveness, that, instead of being open to what’s causing the confusion, they tend to just shy away from confrontation. Thus, it is important to establish open communication to encourage the staff to be more comfortable in relaying any work challenges to the employer.
- Time Zone Disadvantage – As it is a pro, it can also be a con. The big time gap from Western countries can be a concern especially if your assistant works on a day shift, Philippine time. But many Filipino VAs are used to working on night shifts, especially those who already had an experience working in BPO companies.
- 13th Month Pay – This is not really a disadvantage but rather, something that has to be considered. This part of the Filipino culture serves like a ‘Christmas bonus’ which is equivalent to a month’s pay given before their Christmas holiday.
- Education Ends Earlier – The available Filipino talents in the current market have been brought up by the old educational system producing college graduates as young as 20 years old, a bit younger compared to other countries. The level of experience may not be that strong so trial tasks are the best course of action to filter in the most qualified assistant.
How Much Does A Virtual Assistant from the Philippines Cost?
Similar to the considerations in hiring any virtual assistant, your pay scale must take factors as the type of skill you are looking for, the level of experience, and the work requirements.
As a rough guide, you can hire a general VA for $3 per hour or less. The monthly cost range will be from $400 to $500 and still can go up as the skill and experience levels become higher.
Job portals like Onlinejobs.ph, a leading online marketplace for a reliable pool of quality Filipino talents, shows a better outline of the pay scale for all types of work specialties – content and SEO writers, web developers, graphic designers, mobile developers, and customer service support.
Where To Find the Best Filipino Virtual Assistants?
There are a lot of virtual assistant companies that exclusively outsource Filipino talents to provide the best service to their global clients. But the question is, which company is the most credible and the best option to go for.
As we have already covered in the earlier discussion about where you can possibly get a qualified VA, for Philippine-based talents, you can go here for our selected list to have a fast and easy overview of these VA companies.
However, our most recommended, and so far what remains a go-to for most businesses, is Onlinejobs.ph. You may refer to our quick review about how awesome this online job board has been in helping clients get the best of Filipino talents.
The Filipino workers, in general, are always known for their reputable work output, commendable work ethics, loyalty to their clients, and reliability, These qualities are what attract businesses to hire virtual assistants from the Philippines, apart from cost savings.
The growing availability of the online workforce in the Philippines allows a greater opportunity for outsourcing and employment, filling in the ever-changing and overflowing demands of virtual work in the market.
Furthermore, being the credible workers that they are, you can always count on them being a catalyst to your business’ growth as they efficiently handle the rather mundane tasks so you can maximize your time and focus more on your business core.