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For the past 5 years, I’ve been asking people a few questions on this site in the hopes of pointing them in the right direction on their virtual assistant search.

Perhaps ironically for a site dedicated to delegation and outsourcing, I answered every survey result myself for the first 3 years. (Now I have Fancy Hands do it for me!)

But over that time, I’ve collected some interesting data in what readers of this site are looking for when it comes to a virtual assistant.

I removed the duplicate entries and found this nice little upward trend on the number of surveys submitted over the recent life of this site:

So what did I ask? Read on.

What Type of Work Do You Need Done?

The first question I ask is, “What type of work do you envision your virtual assistant primarily doing for you?”

The options are:

  • Mini-projects or tasks, such as online research, scheduling, or travel planning.
  • Ongoing support, such as bookkeeping, article writing, SEO, or other business processes.
  • A one-time project, like building a website.
  • I’m not sure.

And the results:

Nearly half of all respondents were looking for ongoing business support, while another 40% were trying to find help for smaller tasks.

A handful of people were looking for virtual support for a one-off project, and surprisingly 1 in 12 respondents said they weren’t sure what a VA would do for them.

(My book has a laundry-list of potential tasks to get your creative juices flowing.)

These results match up pretty closely with my own virtual assistant usage. I tend to outsource primarily business functions, but occasionally tap into some task-based help for personal stuff.

How Many Hours per Week?

Next up, I ask how many hours a week people envision for their new hire. This is important to get a sense of how much work they have to offload, since some companies are better for full-time support, while others happily take on smaller workloads.

The options are:

  • 0-10, or on-demand as needed
  • 10-20, regular part-time help
  • 20-40, an integral part of your team

And the results:

As you can see, almost two-thirds of respondents are looking for very part-time help. I think it makes sense to start small and ramp up as you gain trust and comfort in remote delegation.

The remaining piece of the pie are those looking for 10-40 hours of virtual assistant support each week. If you’re in that boat, I feel your pain, and know what a relief it will be to get that work off your plate!

What Kind of Working Relationship Sounds Best?

Different VA companies have different approaches, so it’s important for me to find out if potential employers are looking for a dedicated hire or if they’d be OK with a pool of assistants handling their work.

The way I phrased this is, “What kind of working relationship with your VA would be best?”

And the possible answers are:

  • A dedicated assistant would be better, so I can train them to meet my needs and establish an ongoing relationship.
  • A different person can do each task, I don’t care as long as it gets done.

Here are the results:

Three out of four respondents indicated they’d prefer to work with a dedicated assistant, and I tend to be in the same boat. Though I’ve used — and continue to use — pool-based assistant services (like Fancy Hands), the bulk of my outsourcing is done with one-on-one assistants.

I think the prospect of building a long-term relationship and having someone get to know your business and your processes can be immensely valuable.

On the flip side, if you’re having a hard time imagining what a pool-based service could do for you, think along the lines of rapid template-driven customer response, proofreading, research, flight check-ins, or reservations.

Where Do You Want Your VA to Be Located?

When it comes to outsourcing, does the golden rule of real estate still apply?

While location can be important for language and time zones, I think the biggest advantage of the global talent pool is that you can find great people from all corners of the world.

So I asked readers if they cared where their prospective VA would live. The possible answers were:

  • I don’t care, as long we can communicate.
  • I would prefer to work with someone from the US, or at least a native-English speaker.
  • USA, all the way.

And in the end, these were the answers I got:

The majority of respondents were geo-agnostic, which usually opens the door to some healthy cost-savings.

I’ve worked with dedicated virtual assistants in Pakistan, Panama, Eastern Europe, the Philippines, the UK, and the US, and can safely say that communication always trumps location.

Paying more for a close-to-home VA doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality right out of the box. In fact, I’ve been severely disappointed by some “local” VAs and VA companies when my requests come back nothing how I imagined. In those cases, I have to turn around and look in the mirror because I clearly didn’t explain the job well enough!

Your Turn

How would you answer these questions? What have your outsourcing relationships looked like so far? Do they match up with the rest of the Virtual Assistant Assistant readers?

Let me know in the comments below!


  1. That’s a nice survey and you got a perfect answer! I was wondering for a long time for these.
    I have one more question:-
    Q. What is the most important part you think about before hiring a VA? High Quality or availability? Individual or Organization? Old organization with high rate or New organization with low rate?

  2. Very interesting and useful to see these results – thanks for sharing! I’m not surprised at the majority wanting a dedicated VA, and am quite surprised that almost two-thirds don’t care about location! That is contrary to what I see posted in RFP’s on ‘my’ Canadian association’s website, where “local” is the overwhelming preference.

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