A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provide office services for small businesses, consultant groups, brokers and financial sales agencies. These workers are not employees, therefore the clients don't have to be responsible for employee taxes, insurance benefits or other benefits. Clients can eliminate the issue of providing office space, supplies and equipment for these workers.

Virtual workers are often found in countries where the cost of living is lower, yet the technology exists to perform the type of communication that is required for efficient and effective service. The Philippines is an excellent example of a location. Many people are educated and speak, read and write English without a strong accent. This facilitates communication between client and assistant. The technology is highly developed, so data transfers, communication and equipment is readily available.

Some of the qualifications required to become an independent assistant online include secretarial, scheduling, legal transcriptions, real estate scheduling, and receptionist duties. A pleasant demeanor, ability to solve problems in a satisfactory manner and ability to manage a host of details in an organized fashion is required. The assistant may have a number of different clients, so the need to stay organized is critical.

The number of contractors serving in a virtual capacity world wide is estimated to be as few as five thousand and as many as twenty-five thousand. The numbers are somewhat variable, because there are some assistants who work for numerous clients and others who sub-contract certain duties to other individuals. Larger firms may take on a variety of duties, using people in different capacities for the benefit of the client.

Communications between client and contractor can take many forms. With all the electronic and digital gadgetry available today, clients may be reached through telephone, Internet, video conferencing, fax and other methods that continue to provide better and better service. Many businesses are going global, but even in local businesses, the clients may have advantages by contracting with workers in another country or location.

A virtual assistant can provide excellent quality service for many tasks that are associated with both small and large businesses. Economies of scale are the key factor that benefits the clients and allows the contractors to provide economical service to the client. Language skills, cutting edge technology and a knowledge of how office tasks are performed in Western culture are the elements that make contractors from the Philippine Islands such a bargain for businesses around the world.

Author's Bio: 

The author has more than 3 years of experience as a Virtual Assistant. He currently serves as consultant on Team Staffing/Management of Top Forbes 1000 Companies.