It's been almost two years since the world as we knew it was altered forever by the pandemic.
Whether a personal loss or someone in our close circles, we all are or know someone who has been irrevocably affected by the coronavirus.
Along with health-related and personal challenges we were presented with during the ongoing pandemic, many people were professionally affected. There were salary cuts, lay-offs and some companies even had to close shop because they couldn't keep up with the financial burden of managing a business.
The impact Covid-19 had on our economy has been far more than any of us could have predicted, and the havoc it has wreaked on businesses, small and big, has been excruciating. While measures such as the Paycheck Protection Program and corporate equity pledges have helped broaden access to money, and new digital tools have been an enormous help, vaccinations must be a fundamental component of our country's recovery plan from Covid-19.
After the vaccine was available to the general public, early in 2021, the world split in two. One half consisted of people who couldn't wait to get their vaccine shot, and the other half wanted to have nothing to do with the vaccine. With this divide in opinion, rifts were once again caused in professional lives. For example, some stores refused to entertain customers who didn't wear masks. In some cases, business owners made it mandatory for their employees to be fully or partially vaccinated to be eligible for work.
While earlier the decision lay solely in the hands of the business proprietors, the new vaccine mandate proposed by the Biden administration will definitely come with its own set of difficulties as some workers are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The new federal rule, implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under Biden's administration, states that all businesses with more than 100 employees adopt policies requiring their employees to be at least partially vaccinated by January 4th, 2022. In other cases, weekly testing may be required. Companies failing to adhere to these rules may be fined as much as $14,000 for violating the new mandate.
According to US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, "I hear time and time again, from small businesses, large businesses, and workers … that what's really hurting the economy is actually COVID itself. There are times where we recognize that our decisions have a broader effect on people around us. COVID has reminded us of that, and that's why having these types of requirements in workplaces will be not only helpful, it's a necessary step to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic." (Source: New York Post)
While over 70% of adults across the country are at least partially vaccinated, a significant amount of people are rejecting the vaccine, which is, in turn, creating a workplace conflict, as vaccinated people are hesitant to be in the same workspace as their unvaccinated counterparts.
Now, as a small business owner, you might be wondering how this mandate applies to your enterprise that doesn't hold an employee count of 100. While the mandate currently only applies to large-scale businesses with over 100 employees, according to Dr. Murthy, "nothing is off the table," and it is only a matter of time before the vaccine mandate applies to smaller businesses as well.
Secondly, with the vaccine mandate leaving people who have chosen not to get the vaccine out of jobs, they have no choice but to rely on small businesses for employment, which puts small business owners at a higher risk of exposing themselves to the virus. A chance not everyone is willing to take, as a survey of 3,000 small businesses owners revealed that 87% think their employees must be vaccinated.
Thirdly, small businesses need to be vaccination leaders and motivate their employees and people in their communities to get vaccinated.
So, What Is The Solution?
While there's so much talk about the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our professional lives, if there's one positive realization that happened in the past two years, it is the advantage of remote work for both small-scale and large-scale businesses. While working from home was earlier looked down upon, it has become the only saving grace that helped companies survive and thrive through the pandemic and several lockdowns.
Small businesses don't have the same means large companies do and need to work extra hard to sustain their businesses, with only a fraction of the capital big companies have. So in a time where we can't afford to risk losing out on business due to COVID-19, remote assistants are the perfect solution to help small businesses handle backend work without putting anyone at risk.
What is a Remote Assistant?
You can consider a virtual assistant as someone who takes care of your backend tasks and administrative work from a remote position. They can handle anything from email responses to data entry, website maintenance, and even social media management. Most virtual assistants are contract-based or freelance workers who work from home, giving you ultimate control over how much of your job you outsource. Some virtual assistants can also be sourced from an agency.
Zainab Hamdani, an India-based Virtual Assistant working with Wishup, had this to say about her duties as a virtual assistant:
"My client has a full-time job and a side hustle. Side hustles often die if not taken care of properly. They need a lot of nurturing, something a full-time employee cannot do on their own. That's where I come in; I am the eyes, ears, and, let's say, my client’s mouth.
I mark important tasks and set up meetings. I am the liaison between newly developed teams. Basically, my inbox is constantly buzzing; content approval goes through me, where I set up a scheduled time for my client to go through everything all at once instead of his phone blowing up every hour. I help my client focus on his full-time job, and his side hustles equally."
If you're wondering how your business will benefit from the help of a virtual assistant, here are a couple of the most significant advantages of having a virtual assistant on your team.
You Get to Work With An Expert
As the virtual assistant sector expands, so does the range of skills and talents available. Virtual Assistants these days have years of experience in fields such as marketing, administration-related jobs, social media management, data entry, bookkeeping, and project management.
Professional Work Ethic
Hiring a virtual assistant to your team is an effective way to form a long-term fruitful business relationship for both you and your VA. They usually start with the simplest tasks like email management, data entry, or calendar scheduling. However, as they understand your business better and earn your trust, they will take on more responsibility with time.
Save on Expenses
As your business grows, you have to be careful where you invest your capital resources. Apart from the high employment cost with a full-time employee, there are additional expenses like benefits, bonuses, and paid leaves.
You don't have to get into a long-term contract or commitment or deal with tax complications with a virtual assistant. You can also exit the contact as and when you like and upscale and downscale your team with more assistants depending on how busy your business gets.
Focus on Business Strategy
With the one-man-for-all-tasks approach of running a small business, you're probably used to handling everything yourself, from client servicing to bookkeeping. Unfortunately, this leaves you with no time to think about how to actually grow and improve your business!
With a remote assistant to back you up, you get the headspace to develop creative campaigns, devise new advertising strategies, and handle big decisions of taking your business to more considerable heights.
What Tasks can I Delegate to my Virtual Assistant?
There are many departments in which you can get the assistance of a virtual assistant, from calendar management, receipt invoicing to handling taxes and annual accounts.
Briefly speaking, here are some of the tasks you can delegate to your remote assistant.
Administrative tasks - this includes replying to client emails, making sure all your calls are promptly answered, handling your calendar, and even sending out holiday cards now that it's the holiday season. They can also manage your hotel bookings and travel arrangements for both professional and personal reasons.
Accounting - from categorizing invoices, handling bills and receipts, and even assisting you with taxes, there are many bookkeeping tasks you can assign to your VA, which will free up a lot of your time.
Project Management - they can collaborate with various departments and make sure that all your various ongoing projects are running smoothly without any hiccups.
Personal executive tasks - a personal assistant is someone who can help you out in your personal life as well. Whether reserving a table at the restaurant, picking up your laundry, or ordering you lunch amid a busy day, your personal executive assistant will be more than happy to take this responsibility off your shoulders.
SEO and Social Media Marketing - we're all aware of the potential social media marketing has to attract new clients to your business. A social media assistant can manage your social platforms and regularly update your blog with SEO knowledge. It helps boost your search engine ranking and organically reach new audiences.
"Nothing is off the table" - Dr. Vivek Murthy, on small businesses having to meet the vaccine mandate.
With the unpredictability of the ongoing pandemic, small businesses must be prepared to face whatever challenges are thrown their way with a brave face. With a virtual assistant on your team, issues like working with unvaccinated employees or meeting federal law mandates will not be on your radar.