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Comparing Live Personal Assistants Versus Electronic “Virtual” Personal Assistants

February 23rd, 2017

Live Personal Assistants Versus Electronic “Virtual” Personal Assistants

One of the opportunities that has become widely available since the Internet explosion is the ability to hire “virtual” assistants. This special kind of personal assistant is employed to take on commonplace tasks, such as handling scheduling issues, dealing with emails, setting up meetings, coordinating events, monitoring finances, emailing client contacts and more — but they do it remotely.

Having a virtual personal assistant versus someone who is physically at your location has its advantages, but many people are still hesitant to go virtual when they’re looking to hire an assistant — and they’re wise in their desire to thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of each assistant type.

If you’ve been wondering whether it was better to find the best virtual assistant you could or to employ a personal assistant you can meet with on a regular basis, this article is for you. It gives an honest look at the realities of living with your ultimate hiring decision. Even if you’re just considering getting a digital assistant for your Android smart phone, it’s wise to contemplate every possibility first.

Why Hire a Personal Assistant in the First Place?

Knowing why you’d like to hire a personal assistant can be helpful in determining which assistant type is best suited for your needs. Most of the time, the impetus to explore having a personal assistant to take on duties comes about because of a change in circumstance. For example:

  • - A business leader may find himself without the time to do everyday tasks and keep up with all his commitments. To ensure nothing falls through the cracks, he decides to hire someone to help him stay on top of his demands.

  • - An entrepreneur who built her company from a start-up could discover that she’s having difficulty with business and private life organization. To help her keep on task and to avoid over-commitments, she finds the idea of having a personal assistant an appealing relief.

  • - A busy, upwardly mobile couple with many assets, homes and a hectic social schedule might find they need a personal assistant to manage their household affairs. Their perception of a personal assistant is someone who can attend to all the “nuts and bolts” of their lives so they can be visible when needed.

  • - A celebrity may come to the conclusion that it is impossible for them to fully embrace their newfound status and responsibilities without daily assistance. For them, a personal assistant becomes an extension of their star-status lifestyle. A highly trained, competent and reliable personal assistant could be tasked with anything from social media updates to setting up public speaking events and engagements.

Obviously, every situation is unique. However, the greatest reason for thinking about obtaining a personal assistant, virtual or otherwise, is a nagging need that won’t go away.

The Benefits of Hiring a “Live” Personal Assistant

Live personal assistants are going to be available “in the flesh,” so to speak. They may have duties that take them away from your immediate oversight, but they will likely work and perhaps even live nearby. Some personal assistants are given quarters within their clients’ estates or spacious homes, if necessary and applicable.

The benefits of having a personal assistant who is physically present include both practical and psychological ones. In terms of psychology, it can be much easier to be able to speak with someone who is there all the time. You can schedule face-to-face meetings, have short conversations and discuss lingering issues immediately. Additionally, there’s a sense of commitment on both parts because you will have so much contact with one another.

When hiring a “live” personal assistant, you typically get at least one in-person interview, and perhaps several. This helps you figure out if the personal assistant is someone you get along with or trust. There’s absolutely no substitution for reading someone’s body language. When your personal assistant candidate is seated across from you, you’ll be able to use all your senses to judge the assistant’s veracity, style and ability.


Another advantage of having a live personal assistant is that you’ll be able to make changes on a dime. The personal assistant will have particular hours, so you’ll know how to contact them as soon as you need to. There’s never any sense that your personal assistant may be out of touch, as long as you’re trying to get in touch at times you both agreed to.

Personal Assistant Benefits

Other benefits of hiring someone as your personal assistant that will be with you in person include:

  • - The personal assistant will most likely be considered your full-time or part-time employee, which may make hiring and, if needed, firing, much simpler. You can also set the hours you need your personal assistant to be available in stone. This will ensure you’ll never be without onsite assistance when you need it.

  • - The personal assistant may grow into other job responsibilities. If you operate an organization with growth potential, you may find a new place for someone who started out as a personal assistant. Many top personal assistants have excellent skill sets, including in the technology, finance and sales realms. Your personal assistant today could become a leader in your company tomorrow, helping to increase your company’s profits.

  • - The personal assistant will be working only for you during their specified hours. This ensures they will always have the time set aside to work on urgent responsibilities at a moment’s notice. You won’t have to wonder if they are putting your needs first. Because their job responsibilities require them to be dedicated to your needs, you can rest assured they will.

  • - You can easily train your personal assistant in-house on any software or systems you prefer to use. If you find a potential assistant candidate you like, but they don’t have a particular skill set, you may be able to arrange for training at your facility. This would be much more difficult with a virtual assistant.

  • - The personal assistant can help other members of your family or your colleagues. As long as the duties of your personal assistant allow it, your assistant can be a huge asset to other people in your life as well. Some families, for instance, end up having one personal assistant to help keep their busy lives from getting too stressed and overwhelming.

It’s not hard to find a great personal assistant when you work with an agency or firm, like Quintessentially People, that devotes itself to the process of finding amazing candidates and bringing them to you. Knowing that the candidates you interview have already been background checked and vetted in other ways can bring great peace of mind and ease frustration in the hiring process.

The Pros and Cons of a Virtual Personal Assistant

In contrast to having an assistant be physically onsite, virtual personal assistants typically do all their work from their home offices or another workspace. Consequently, your connection with them will be mostly through web video, phone calls, texts and emails. Depending upon where the virtual personal assistant lives, you may never meet the candidate unless you make special arrangements for a particular event or purpose.

Virtual Personal Assistant Pros

Virtual personal assistants are able to perform many of the duties of in-person personal assistants. After all, both types of assistants are handling jobs and tasks that normally require the use of computers and other electronic devices. However, you will not have the same ability to see if your personal assistant has other skills that could be useful beyond the duties you specifically assign. For instance, in the case of an onsite personal assistant, you might accidentally uncover the assistant’s uncanny ability for working with difficult people. Knowing this, you could get help from your assistant on occasional matters that include challenging personalities. With a virtual assistant, there will always be a sense of detachment, and, therefore, an inability to take advantage of those kinds of strokes of luck.

One of the notable benefits of having a virtual personal assistant, however, is that they will likely charge a lower rate than an in-person assistant counterpart. Why? It’s a simple economic reason: They have less overhead. They will not be commuting to your home or workplace. They will not have to dress up to attend special meetings. Their role will be highly carved out, and they will not vary from it unless you tell them to. This provides them with the ability to charge less, although you have to accept that you will get less of their time and loyalty.

Virtual personal assistants generally work for many clients simultaneously. Your work will not necessarily be done at a certain time of the day. This shouldn’t be a problem, unless you need something done very fast. If many of your personal assistant’s tasks are likely to change midstream, you may find it frustrating to work with a virtual assistant who doesn’t make themselves available when you need them. Again, this may not be a deal-breaker, but it needs to be taken into account.

Other advantages when working with a virtual personal assistant are:

  • - The virtual personal assistant will not require any room and board. You will also not be seeing the assistant routinely, which may be important to you if you prefer to distance yourself from your employees.

  • - The virtual personal assistant will not likely be a full-time employee. This erases any worries you might have about providing benefits or paying taxes. You can arrange for your virtual personal assistant to pay their own taxes.

  • - The virtual personal assistant will have no contact with your other team members. There will be no cross-pollination, which could be advantageous depending upon the responsibilities of your virtual personal assistant.

From a logistics outlook, it’s essential to ask yourself if you can feel comfortable working with an individual who isn’t going to be around “in real life” on a daily or weekly basis. If this isn’t something you like, all the inherent benefits of virtual personal assistants won’t matter.

Why Many Professionals Choose Real-World Personal Assistants

At the end of the day, though having a virtual assistant can seem like an easy solution to the problem of getting and staying organized, etc., more and more professionals are opting for real-world personal assistants instead. Why? One of the biggest reasons is that they have grown up in a world where they feel the need to be able to monitor, mentor and motivate their employees.


Live Personal Assistant Pros

Other reasons for the movement toward live personal assistants include:

  • - It just feels safer to have a personal assistant on board who is there. You know what’s happening, and you can ensure everything is flowing smoothly.

  • - Vetting virtual assistants can be troublesome and difficult. If you get a real-world personal assistant through a reputable hiring agency, like Quintessentially People, you can be sure the agency has already done the legwork for you.

  • - Although the cost of a virtual personal assistant might ordinarily be less than a real-world personal assistant, this fee is seen as “getting what you pay for.” There may be an overarching sense of distrust of an individual who might not give your work the seriousness and time it deserves.

  • - Virtual personal assistants may not be forthcoming about being the ones performing the assistant services. Instead, they could outsource without notifying you, even if your contract forbids that kind of business practice. In the end, you could be left with insecure data or subpar finished products. You might not even know the work wasn’t done correctly for quite a while, costing you time, money and headaches.

It’s reasonable to want to investigate the world of hiring a personal assistant, especially if you’ve outgrown your ability to multitask successfully. As you seek out candidates, remember that you also have to consider your personality and style when choosing between virtual and live personal assistants.

Which is the best match for you? Only you will be able to make that decision, but you do have to be realistic and think about what having a personal assistant means to you. Is it just a glorified accountant to create spreadsheets and then send you the finished products via email? Or is it someone who can truly free up your time by being on hand so you can achieve your dreams?

Whatever your needs entail, count on Quintessentially People to bring you the highest quality candidates. We background check each one, ensuring those who make it into our talent pool are only the best. Contact us today.

Page Updated October 5, 2017