Archive for December, 2010

Disruption caused by the heavy snowfall could cost UK businesses about £1bn. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimated 20% of the UK’s working population, or 6.4 million people, do not make it to work when faced with adverse weather. Figures published from the most definitive survey of the small business sector (February 2010). One in seven members of staff failed to make it into work during the heavy snow and severe weather earlier this year. Although half (51%) of small firms surveyed said they were prepared for severe weather disruption, staff were unable to get to work because of transport disruptions (29%) and school closures (11%) which meant that parents had to stay at home to look after their children. On average, a small business with seven members of staff saw one employee absent on at least one occasion – that is 15 % of staff (from responding businesses) unable to make it into work for at least a day because of snow-bound roads and closed schools.

The Centre for Economic and Business Research said that UK economic output or gross domestic product per day was about £4.5bn. If 20% of the population have zero productivity for the day, there is a loss of £900m. Companies’ cash flow could be hit by delayed payments as a result of the disruption and this could mean that an additional 2,000 to 3,000 businesses may fail as a result of the bad weather.

Businesses need to do all they can to maintain normal service levels and ultimately avoid losing customers and revenue.

This year, we in the UK have had unusually bad winter weather conditions and are experiencing extraordinary amounts of snowfall, in February and now during December. I know we don’t get it as bad as other parts of the world and everywhere else copes, but we are not used to it and we fall apart at the slightest hint of the white stuff! Transport systems fail, road networks are blocked and impassable for many days, airports close, staff members don’t get into work and everything grinds to a halt.

Everything that is except those of us who work virtually and from our own offices!

Many companies will have contingency plans for such situations and have arrangements for staff to work from home but how many companies have lost valuable time & money because their staff couldn’t get in to the office?

As a Virtual Assistant I was able to continue as normal, because I did not have to dig the car out of a snow drift or have a problem getting it started. I wasn’t caught in traffic jam on the motorway because a lorry jack-knifed on the ice and blocked all the lanes. I didn’t get stuck at the train station waiting for a train that was delayed due to frozen lines and I wasn’t relying on delayed public transport to get me to the office. My commute to work was less than a minute and I was at my desk for my normal working hours, doing what my clients pay me to do!

Virtual Assistants or VAs work from their own offices and can continue to do the job regardless of the weather conditions. It’s not always about sensible delegation, it about making the sensible choice when looking for someone to look after your daily admin and help with running your business efficiently. Plan ahead. If you have never been in this situation before, now is be a good time to think about how you might handle future scenarios.

Doesn’t it make sense to use someone who will be there for you come rain, sun or snow!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Channel Virtual Assistance

“Virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.” International Virtual Assistants Association

Virtual Assistants or VA’s have been around since the early 1990’s and despite being a growing industry I am still surprised to find that it is still relatively unknown. When asked what I do I reply “A Virtual Assistant or VA”. I either get “Wow, that’s great” or more often than not a completely blank look along with a prod in the arm and “you don’t look very virtual to me”!

So now I tend to give the reply “I provide administrative services and support to companies, entrepreneurs and busy professionals” which seems to sum it up in. People are often unaware of the technology which makes it possible for VA’s to do their jobs and not be positioned in someone else’s office. I am constantly amazed by what’s out there, free and subscription based, which makes my work life as a VA easier and possible.

So, Virtual Assistants or VA’s are professional people who support businesses with the administration, clerical, technical, marketing, creative and day-to-day operations. VA’s are independent contractors, not employees and do the same work as office based staff, not in your office but their own. They only charge for the time spent on your work so you’re not paying for office space & equipment, tax & NIC, coffee breaks, holidays and time off when ill!

At the end of the day, there must be plenty of jobs that you would like to move off your desk to that of an assistant. Some businesses do not need a full-time assistant, so the answer is using the services of a Virtual Assistant. Think about the daily, weekly or monthly tasks which you either dislike doing, haven’t got the time to do or just don’t know how to do. If you work out how much time you spend on these tasks you’ll see that your time is best utilised concentrating on the core aspects of your business. Think about the time you spend doing some of the following: database management, bookkeeping, blogging, social media marketing, website updates, marketing support, handling emails, arranging appointments, research and much more

It’s all about cost-effective delegation, so do what you do best and delegate the rest!

Caroline