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Homeworking sector witnesses rise of the virtual assistant

The rise of the virtual assistant (VA) has been identified as another outcome of both the recession and the growing trend for flexible, home-based working.

Described by the London Evening Standard a "real-life fem-bot", the typical VA works from home – or occasionally from a cafe – and "runs the lives" of up to 30 individual business people simultaneously.

The appeal for many homeworking fans is that the job is on a paid-for-by-the-hour basis. This means, in addition, those who avail of a VA's services face no employer liabilities, tax or benefits issues.

In another illustration of the efficiency facilitated for homeworkers through developments in technology, the typical VA can draft letters, attend webinars, manage online diaries and keep in touch with several people at once with no face-to-face contact – just as easily as a traditional personal assistant.

Claire Brynteson, who set up her own VA business, tells the paper: "Most of our client base is working twice as hard as they used to. And more new businesses are starting than ever before, with a lot of people going it alone."

VA work is "never dull", she concludes, since it eliminates the routine associated with office life.

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