Virtual Assistance: Part 1 of 2

Foreign Service Life
October 19, 2008

I had never heard of virtual assistants until this past year.  Now I feel like everywhere I turn, people are sending things off to their virtual assistants overseas.  Being one who is fascinated by new trends, I decided we’d explore this in a 2-part blog series.  Today’s focus is on the application Virtual Assistant’s (VA) can have on business.  I’ve been amazed at how many fellow coaches I know have VA’s!  This is not some small trend.  According to this article in Fast Company, even Pfizer is finding ways to utilize VA’s effectively and save itself a bundle of money!  Here’s a summary of the article:

Have you ever wished for a magic button on your screen that would allow you to click and send your irritating project away to be done by someone else?  Well, that’s exactly what Pfizer did.  They’ve installed a button on each employee’s desktop called OOF which stands for “Office of the Future”.  Each employee is able to press this button to send basic support work like document creation, spreadsheet analysis, meeting scheduling and powerpoint creation overseas to a virtual assistant in India.  The beauty of the arrangement, is that given the time difference, a project sent off at 5 PM will be sitting in your inbox complete by 9 AM the next morning.

This decision came from a realization that the Harvard MBAs that Pfizer was hiring were spending 20-40% of their day on mundane tasks such as the ones listed above.  Not a good use of $200 an hour!  Now Pfizer only pays $15-35 an hour with a virtual assistant in India and has happier employees to boot!  Check out the article for more in-depth information on the challenges Pfizer went through to get this up and running.  Isn’t progress amazing!

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