Working with our clients to source the very best in product and service solutions, we have had the opportunity of introducing Founder client’s to the services of Peta to support them in administrational tasks that as a growing business they just don’t have enough hours in the day.

We have seen an increase during the last two years of client’s that leaving their corporate career to pursue their own professional portfolio career. Joining Essential Solutions as a member, we help them with task requests in both Business and in Life and regularly seek out the expertise of virtual assistants to support them with board papers, invoicing, expense reconciliation, diary and email management.

Peta Wolff runs a virtual assistant business. Based on the Gold Coast, she started I’ve Got Time For That almost 10 years ago after losing her event management role at Billabong.

Left without a job and wanting to stay on the Gold Coast, Ms Wolff turned to her little black book of contacts that she accrued during her 11 years as personal assistant to Brett Godfrey – co-founder of Virgin Australia – to see if anyone could use her skills.

“It wasn’t really a thing back then, but I thought I should set it up and see what sort of response I got. I had a response 24 hours later, a contract, and was working from home for someone.” A decade later, Ms Wolff now consistently has “two or three really big clients on the go” and a slew of other clients that she helps on an ad hoc basis.

By all accounts, the virtual assistant sector is ballooning. Much of the growth is being driven by demand from companies that are looking to reduce costs or quit their offices during the pandemic, says Oliver Woolrych, community organiser at Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace.

“A lot of [virtual assistant] work is coming from smaller businesses that have either got rid of their physical office, and they’ve gone fully remote, or trying to cut costs and looking elsewhere for a more cost-effective way in which to have administration work done,” Mr Woolrych said.

“Employing virtual assistants allows [an assistant] with a specific skill set to match with a specific set of tasks and for them to nail that. So it’s a really efficient way of going about getting things done.”

Jobs marketplace Airtasker pointed to a rise in demand for virtual assistants in the first few months of this year. Demand for administrative tasks surged 20 per cent between January and April compared with last year – and by 38 per cent compared with 2019, before the pandemic.

Company clients were primarily looking for virtual assistants for calendar management, data entry, transcribing videos, travel booking, website updates and content creation, Airtasker noted.

For Ms Wolff, the range of tasks she does for clients varies. She takes in everything from classic executive assistant-type work, to sourcing props and styling for an event, to setting up databases – and on one occasion organised dry-cleaning for a client in Los Angeles.

“When the world started waking up again, execs realised their administrative side of things was getting out of control and they couldn’t manage it themselves,” she said.

“And because they got rid of their office space or they were still working from home, they just needed someone to work remotely.”

Another virtual assistant, who asked to remain anonymous, began working in the field two years ago through Airtasker. She, like Ms Wolff, also had a long career doing administrative work before taking her talents virtual so she could spend more time with her daughter, who has special needs.

She said many of her customers were companies that had cut costs during the pandemic and were relying on virtual assistants to do the work remotely on a regular basis.

Mr Woolrych said most virtual assistants in Australia were sole traders, although ones based offshore were often employees or part of a consortium.

Virtual assistants tend to charge by the hour or offer packages of hours, and clients who take packages with more hours often receive a cheaper hourly rate.

For virtual assistants getting jobs at Fiverr, the average amount paid for one task is $44.

Article by Campbell Kwan
Photo credit: Paul Harris
Contact Peta Wolff