The Pitfalls of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

At some point it dawned on me that I’d stumbled upon the fatal flaw inherent in any virtual-assistant relationship. To be truly useful, an assistant needs to understand everything about your life and work. An assistant is a confidant. But it’s impossible to develop a deep, trusting relationship with a guy you know only by email—a guy who communicates with you in canned professional-ese, who must be monitored by security cameras to make sure he doesn’t rob you.

Slate’s Farhad Manjoo tried outsourcing some of his more mundane tasks (i.e. answering emails, booking flights) to a virtual assistant and discovered, of course, that trusting someone you’ve never met with your personal details and credit card information isn’t exactly the best idea. You get what you pay for: A $10 an hour virtual assistant is no match for a salaried personal assistant (about $47,000 in Palo Alto, Calif. where Manjoo lives) who can meet with you every day.

Photo: Wendy Piersall

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2 Comments / Post A Comment

No offense to him, but “Farhad Manjoo’s personal assistant” sounds like quite possibly the worst job in the world for a myriad of reasons.

hopeyglass (#3,298)

if anyone has questions about the other side of this equation, I did this in a small start-uppy place for consumer attorneys for… too long. on the other hand, I did get REALLY good at slipping into patois depending on which part of the country your office was in.

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