by Chris Bodenner
A reader begs to differ:
I’d like to share a contrasting virtual assistant experience from that of Manjoo’s. For six years, I have worked with a VA who does a great job at a remarkable number of tasks. Travel planning and booking? Check. Complicated, multi-city itineraries to be billed to different clients? Check. Finding the jacket I accidentally left in the overhead by seat 7A? Making all of my appointments, including conference calls with casts of thousands? Fixing my PowerPoint? Trouble shooting tech problems? Doing my expense reports? Sending flowers to a sick relative? Being trusted with my Amex account, all of my travel accounts, my web domain? Check, check, check, check.
We communicate every day five days by email and, when urgent, text or phone call. The only thing that troubles me about our relationship is that, after six years of working together, we have never met (although we have pieced together the basic facts of our respective family lives and interests). My friends are divided between those who say “Isn’t it a little creepy not to meet her?” and those who say “Why fix something that isn’t broken?”
I’ve read several times about people experimenting with virtual assistants in India – as if VAs are available only in India. That’s not true. Mine is in Gainesville; I’m in Cambridge (Mass). There are excellent VAs in the US who can provide an amazing array of services on an as-needed basis. They are perhaps the most interesting use of remote-office technology I’ve come across. People shouldn’t be scared off. A good one is a gamer-changer.
And of course in the not-too-distant future we’ll start outsourcing VAs away from humans altogether.