It’s only eleven in the morning and the day’s already running away from you. There are accounts to log, invoices to send, and twenty messages piled up in your inbox. You’re a business leader, you’re meant to be strategizing, planning, leading, inspiring. Instead, you’re drowning in the details.

This is the problem that many executives and business owners face. Even if you’re not overwhelmed yet, the heap of mundane administrative tasks keeps you from getting on with the work you want to do, where your special skills and experience can add the most value.


For many, the solution is to hire a virtual assistant.
So how do you go about this?

What a Remote Executive
Assistant Can Do

First, it’s important to understand what a remote executive assistant can do.

The bulk of their work is usually administration. This doesn’t just mean the simple repetitive things like invoicing, writing up minutes, and sorting through messages. It’s also more advanced tasks like scheduling, travel planning, research, and expense management - work that needs intelligence and initiative but that can be delegated to a smart worker with clear instructions.

Some remote personal assistants have specialist skills and experience. They might be able to handle social media, accounts, or IT support. This can be a real boon, as it saves you from having to employ other specialists. But these sorts of virtual assistants are the rare ones and they’ll only be able to provide specialist cover in a specific area. Most assistants are generalists.

"One of the most important things a remote executive assistant does is to understand your priorities and your working style, so that they can give you the support you most need".

They can lift the burden of mundane work or tasks you find draining, freeing your time for more important work. They can also make your life run more smoothly by ensuring that you have bookings for travel, accommodation, and meetings, that everything is recorded where it needs to be, and that you have the information you need at your fingertips.

Know What You Need from Your Virtual Assistant

To maximize the benefits of a remote personal assistant, you need to think about what exactly they’ll do for you.

Consider what you’re going to use your virtual assistant for. What tasks do you have that are straightforward but time consuming and that you’re willing to trust to someone else? Are there specialist jobs that you would like them to take on, alongside the mundane administration?

Work out how much time it will take a remote executive assistant to do these tasks, once they’ve got used to them. Do any of these tasks need to be done at specific times of the day or week? This will tell you how many hours of support you need and when.

Now the awkward question - what’s your budget? As with so much in life, you get what you pay for. The more money you’re willing to spend, the more hours you can get, the more you can insist that those hours fit your schedule, and the better the quality of remote personal assistant you’ll get.

Finally, work out what you’re going to do with the time you’re freeing up. There’s no point spending money on an assistant until you’re ready to reap the benefits.

Do Your Prep Work

With that information in hand, it’s time to do some prep work. It may sound like you’re putting in more hours than you’re saving, but this will pay off in the long run.

Search for virtual assistants and companies that provide them. Google is your friend, as are freelance hiring sites. Identify the companies and assistants that might meet your criteria, then reach out to them. Ask for more information about their services and arrange for a conversation about what you need and what they can provide.

While you’re waiting for responses, start getting things ready for your remote executive assistant. Document the processes that you want them to follow, to show what needs doing and how to do it. You might do this as a written document or use video screen capture to record you doing the process. The important thing is that the process is easy to follow, as this will let your assistant get on with the work without bothering you.

If they’re going to be handling calls or correspondence, then provide scripts and templates for common scenarios. Include an explanation of when to use each one and when correspondence should be left to you to deal with.

Companies Versus Individual
Remote Personal Assistants

During the prep stage, decide whether you want to hire an individual remote personal assistant or a company providing them.

Companies vary in their working practices. Some employ their assistants full time, with competitive wages and healthcare to get the best work out of them. Others are more like Uber, treating the assistants as freelancers and taking a percentage of their revenues in return for connecting them to customers. Some have staff working together in an office, where they receive training, coaching, and the social benefits of being surrounded by colleagues. Others have staff who work from home.

Another important distinction is in the sort of service you get from a company. Some will provide you with a dedicated assistant whose job is to provide your virtual support. At others, tasks will be assigned on an individual basis to whoever is available, relying on the company’s systems to inform them about your preferences. The consistency of service you get therefore varies from company to company.

Whatever its approach, working with a company helps provide continuity of service. Because they have multiple virtual assistants, they’ll be able to provide a substitute when your regular assistant isn’t available due to holidays or sickness.

Companies invest in technology to ensure the quality and efficiency of work. For example, software can record your preferences and remind your remote executive assistant of when to apply them.

Some companies also have specialists who can be assigned for a set portion of your hours. These might be travel bookers, IT support, social media experts, or others with valuable skills and experience. Hiring through a company gives you access to a range of specialist skills without having to hire several separate remote assistants.

There are other ways to get the most out of working with a company. Ask what sorts of clients stick with them long-term, as this will highlight what sort of work they’re best at. The company should also be able to offer advice on how to make best use of their services.

The balance of costs and benefits is going to affect whether you go with a company or an individual. If you can afford it then the benefits of a company are hard to argue with.

Checking Company Procedures

If you’re considering hiring a company then ask some questions about how they operate, to see if they’re the right company for you.

One of the most important questions is how they assign virtual assistants. This will show how much attention they pay to client needs and whether they’ll take your concerns into account.

There are some practical issues to cover. How does the company prove that a remote personal assistant is doing the hours you’re paying for? How do they ensure continuity if your regular assistant becomes unavailable? What are their procedures for coping with peaks in demand, when lots of customers are looking for support from the same pool of virtual assistants?

Given how important technology is to virtual working, ask how they maximize the benefits of technology. You don’t want a company that’s scraping by with the bare minimum of teleconferencing and cloud storage. You want someone who will invest in the latest technology to maximize your remote assistant’s effectiveness and free up your time.

At Sigrid, that means a platform bringing together communication, task management, and information about your preferences, all in a single place, to make sure that nothing is missed. It’s paired with a mobile app that lets you communicate efficiently with your personal assistant and keep track of the tasks you’ve delegated to them.

Checking a Remote Executive
Assistant’s Qualifications

If you’re going through a company, then they will do a lot of the hard work of vetting candidates for you. But whether you’re hiring through a company or directly, you want to make sure your remote executive assistant has the skills for the job.

As with any hiring, look at the candidate’s education, training, and experience to see if they match your specific needs. For a remote personal assistant, you’re particularly looking for:

  • Education – are they educated to at least college level?
  • Computer literacy – needed for admin work and virtual working.
  • Language skills – are they fluent in your language and do they speak any others that are important to your business?
  • The ability to learn quickly – you don’t want to lose a lot of time training them.
  • The ability to follow regular procedures.
  • A consistent working pattern.

Work experience is obviously important. You’ll benefit more from an experienced assistant than from a recent graduate. They won’t need experience in your specific sector to be valuable, but it’s worth getting someone with that experience if you can. They’ll have useful knowledge relating to your work and it will be easier to bring them up to speed.

If you’re going through a company, then you’ll be checking their recruitment and training procedures as much as the qualifications of individual candidates. Ask about how rigorous their hiring process is and whether it does psychometric, language, and skills testing. The better companies also have training programs in place, so that the quality of their staff is continually improving.

If you’re not going through a company, make sure to collect references yourself. And if they can’t provide relevant references then give the candidate a hard pass.

Ensuring Availability

Part of the hiring process is making sure that your virtual assistant is available when you need them. There are a few specific things to think about.

Firstly, does your assistant need to be available during business hours? If some or all of the work can be done overnight or in another time zone then you’ll have more options for assistants.

Secondly, which of the candidates are available on a schedule that suits you? And are you willing to compromise on this for a candidate who is otherwise ideal? Companies can help to fill the gap, by providing cover when your preferred executive assistant isn’t available and by ensuring that cover has all the information they need. A remote executive assistant is there to make your life easier, so there’s no point hiring someone whose schedule is itself a complication.

If you travel for work, then find out if the assistant’s availability can be adapted to fit your shifting schedule. Can they change their hours when you’re in a different time zone? Do they have a system to handle urgent tasks outside of normal working hours, such as locating a missing boarding pass when you’re about to travel?

Are they available through different communication channels, as suits you? A good remote personal assistant should be available via phone, email, SMS, and other chat options that you use regularly. A company may have its own messaging system to keep a record of communications and make managing your virtual assistant easier. Some provide mobile apps that bring together chat, calls, and voicemails and link this communication to the relevant tasks.

Technological Compatibility

When we talk about technological compatibility, we’re normally thinking about whether machines can talk to each other. But there’s a human element as well. If you’re going to work closely with someone then you need them to use the same technology you do.

Before hiring a remote executive assistant, make sure that they are familiar with your preferred software and file formats.

Whether it’s an individual or a company, find out how they use technology to collaborate. Are they using software you’re used to, or at least something that’s comfortable and easy to use?

A company will have its own systems for task management and communication, designed to suit the work of remote personal assistants. Have a look at the platform. Does it seem intuitive? Can it do everything you need? Are user instructions clear and support staff responsive?

It’s worth asking if the company uses machine learning or other advanced technology. Though they might be hidden under the hood, these can dramatically improve your experience.


Security is critical. You’re letting someone see the inside of your business. Confidential information will be passing back and forth between you.

Before you start working with your remote assistant, make sure you have a secure way to share messages, data, and documents. A company providing remote executive assistants might sort this out for you. If you’re going solo then you’ll need to set it up for yourself.

Arrange login credentials on your systems for your assistant. Make sure that they have access to everything they need and no more. Set up the login so that you can quickly and easily remove their access if there’s a problem or they quit. After all, you don’t want a former employee to have access to your confidential information.

If you’re going through a company, check what security policies they have, what software they use to provide security, and why they chose that software. You might not have a deep knowledge of cybersecurity, but you want your security in the hands of someone who does.

There’s one last area of security that’s legal rather technological – a non-disclosure agreement. Make sure that you have NDAs with your new assistant and any company you’re hiring through. All the virtual security in the world does no good if your assistant is telling people your secrets.

Finding the Right Virtual
Assistant for You

A remote executive assistant can make your life simpler, freeing you up to focus on the important parts of your work. Hiring an individual remote personal assistant might save you money, but going through a company can improve the quality and consistency of support, as well as bringing in specialist skills.

However you approach this, it’s worth planning in advance to make sure you know what you’re after. That little bit of work now will save you days of work down the line, as the perfect assistant for you picks up the slack.

To learn more about how a remote, managed executive assistant service can help you, check out our website at or contact us to book a consultation and learn how we can help you.