What if you could outsource your work and worries to Virtual Assistants? Everyone can use a personal assistant, and I show you how a normal person can do this!
From my personal experience, I have made great experiences with VA’s from the Philippines. The project: “Outsourcing Philippines” is your overview page and look behind the scenes to see how efficient it can be to get a VA from this country. And what to look out for.
Background: Outsourcing Philippines
Why are the Philippines special?
The Philippines are a developing country with much lower cost of living than states in the EU or US.
At the same time, they have
- The language skills equivalent of a native English speaker
- Extremely high work ethics
- And a very high level of education (almost everyone you can hire will at least have a Bachelor’s degree!)
How much personal experience do I have with outsourcing to the Philippines?
Aside from smaller, short time projects with 5-10 people from the Philippines, I have had a personal assistant, Kristine, for half a year.
And I have worked with a teacher from the Philippines, Yvonne, who helped me with coaching in Chemistry and Biochemistry over almost two years.
I can of course not talk for all people from the Philippines – but what I’ll tell you about working with them applies to most of them.
Advantages of outsourcing to the Philippines
They have awesome English skills
Every person from this country speaks fluent English. Even more important, their culture is just like in the US.
They watch the same shows, and there is almost no cultural or language barrier!
They are the friendliest people ever
First of all:
They will call you, their boss, two things: Sir/Madam, or Boss (rarely).
There isn’t much you can do against this (you can insist, but they won’t feel too comfortable with it). Let them do that.
I haven’t found warmer, friendlier people to work with anywhere. The whole experience of cooperating with them on a project is just gentle, friendly and sweet (with sugar on top).
When I had coaching with Yvonne, there rarely was a time when we both weren’t laughing in a coaching session. She has a great sense of humor – aside from teaching really well.
They won’t ever steal your ideas
If you work on an online business with a personal assistant, you might be careful about what ideas you share with him. The people from the Philippines are extremely honest and loyal. Also, they are not interested in becoming a business owner – they just want a stable job.
I know a few people that even trust them with their credit card info, without problem. (Don’t do that until there is enough trust between you!)
They are really affordable
While outsourcing data entry type jobs to India or Pakistan may be doable at a cheaper rate, for all tasks that need someone with excellent English skills, spoken and written, you won’t find much more affordable than the Philippines.
It always depends on the person, the project, your budget and negotiation skills – but as a rule of thumb:
Most providers on Odesk from the Philippines will be very comfortable working for 3$/hour.
Problem: Outsourcing Philippines – Two disadvantages to look out for
Frequent floods will cut off the communication a few times a year
The Philippines are geographically located in an area that has frequent storms. I have made the experience with both my long term assistants that a few times a year we had communication issues.
There is nothing to do against this. Actually, your Philippines assistant is likely to run to the next internet café – while his house is inundated – just to apologize that the work from today will not be completed in time!
What you can do: stay calm when this happens.
Communicate clearly to your assistant that you are not angry (why should you!?) and that they should take care of themselves. You can share your mobile number for urgent text messages in such catastrophe circumstances, just to keep up the communication.
Their feelings are easily hurt
Try not to:
- Overwhelm them with instructions
- Intimidate them when you’re upset about anything
- Let them work on projects that they are uncomfortable with
Virtual Assistants from the Philippines are very un-confrontational. If you ever raise your voice (in a video instruction for example), use an even a little unfriendly tone in your email, then they will feel insecure with the work they do for you.
What will happen?
They will never tell you.
They might just leave.
No communication, no discussion – they just disappear.
Strategy: Outsourcing Philippines – Where you will most benefit
If you need a personal assistant on a long term basis
A person from the Philippines will love to work for you on a long term basis. That’s like a deep, secret wish from them.
Having a long term contract with you will make them feel secure and actually raise their status amongst their friends. (It simply is cool for them!)
Let them work in areas that don’t need hard decision making
Because they don’t want to argue too much, I have found they are not best suited as a hiring manager.
One long term personal assistant from India, Mahesh, actually was the best negotiator I had until now. My Virtual Assistant from Pakistan is also very effective for constructive feedback that disagrees with me – something that I had trouble getting from contractors from the Philippines.
If you need help with decision making, then a virtual assistant from the Philippines is not your best choice.
However, if you have clear instructions for long term work ready – then they are a great choice!
I asked my Filipino VA Jomvie to put together a list of official holidays in the Philippines for your quick reference. If you choose not to give them paid time off, consider at least to let them pause their work during that time if you pay by the hour.
Just think about going to work on Christmas or on Sylvester – you wouldn’t like that very much, right? 🙂
Over to my VA…
|“We may be different in size, color and shape, but there’s something we all love — Holidays!
In the Philippines, we have an average of ten regular holidays in a year. So, in a year, we are given a 10-day break away from work. And what’s so good about it? It’s (normally) paid.
We have two types of holidays in the Philippines
Often, other people from outside the Philippines do not understand that Regular and Special Holidays are two different types of holidays.
What is a Regular Holiday?
Regular Holidays are paid holidays that are celebrated nationwide. Actually, apart from these regular holidays, we have local holidays (that fall on special non-working holidays). One of them is celebrating the years of our city through colorful feasts that is locally known to us as “Fiesta”.
Regular Holidays are holidays where “no work, no pay” does not apply. In other words, if the employee does not work during this day, he/she is still paid 100 percent of his/her daily rate.
And, if that day the employee is asked to work, he/she will be paid 200 percent for the first eight hours.
List of Regular (paid) Holidays in the Philippines
Holiday Name Date
These are the most celebrated holidays in the Philippines. Since we have a large amount of the population of our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters here in the Philippines, the observance of Eid’l Fitr (July 29) and Eidul Adha (October 4) is yet to be proclaimed.
Saturday and Sunday Exemptions
On regular holidays, there are exemptions if they fall on a weekend day.
An example for this year (2014):
We celebrated our “National Heroes Day” and since it fell on Sunday, it was celebrated on Monday (August 26).
How lucky! I wish we had this exemption rule here in Germany. I have never heard from such a rule.
For us, it’s a matter of luck with “good” or “bad” years, depending on how many holidays fall on a weekend.
On that day, ceremonial rites were given to all our heroes who fought for our freedom and bondage during the perilous times.
What is a Special Non-Working Holiday?
Special Non-Working Holidays are non-paid holidays that are celebrated locally or nationwide.
They are holidays where if an employee will not work, he/she will not get his/her salary for that day.
But, let’s not tackle deeply into technical terms. This is just a brief explanation for you to know the difference between Regular and Special Holidays in the Philippines.”
My full-time VA Jomvie who comes from Mindanao discloses his cost of living in the Philippines. Learn from his overview how much you need to invest to make sure you cover your VAs costs with your salary.
This way, your VA can devote all their energy to your success without distraction.
Over to my VA Jomvie…
Working online has its pros and cons
“Wow, don’t have online workers great benefits?”
And I am just, like,
“How did you get that kind of idea…?”
- Do you know that not all those who are working online are fairly compensated?
- And that their basic needs and expenses are overshadowing what they are getting monthly?
I will give you a breakdown of my expenses as an example. First, let’s know that are these basic needs:
Cost for Food
Basically, we need to eat three times a day (full meal): breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And let’s not forget our snacks that come in between our full meals 😀 But, as for me, I do weekly groceries and I already have everything listed down. So, for my weekly allowance for my meals in a week, I have a budget of Php 1,500 or $36 in a week.
In other words, I am just a normal and regular worker, only that I sit in front of the computer all day long.
- power supply,
- an internet connection,
- and others, like phone and water.
But let’s focus on the internet and light bill.
Since I started working full time as an online provider, my light bill dramatically increased from Php 600 to Php 1,000+ monthly ($14 to $27 per month).
Let’s move on to my monthly internet fee that costs Php 1,300 or $31. And other monthly expenses such as water bill (Php 150/$4) and phone bill (Php 500/$12).
So, yeah, I am just another regular employee with a lot of monthly obligations – only that I don’t go out and travel everyday to work.
Some Filipino VAs live with their family and can economize this expense.
However, you cannot calculate that they can do this forever, e.g. if they have their own family plans.
Since I live separately from my parents, I live in an apartment that costs Php 5,000 monthly or $119 a month.
Now, I will break down all these expenses in dollars, since I get my salary in dollars:
|Basic Needs||Monthly Costs||Total Monthly Expenses|
|Food||– Weekly $36 x 4||$144|
|Bills||– Light: $27
– Internet: $31
– Water: $4
– Phone: $12
|Room||– Rental Fee||$119|
This is the actual breakdown of figures for my personal monthly expenses. And take note that healthcare benefits are not yet included in my monthly expenses and from working online.
So, can you still say that online providers are more blessed than offline workers when there’s not much difference between you as a regular employee and me as an online provider?
Holidays are excluded
Online providers are not fairly compensated and often we don’t get the benefits from a regular employee.
Some employers will not allow their employees to go on Philippine Holidays and their work is not even paid in double during the regular holidays.
A regular employee gets:
- Basic pay,
- Health benefits,
- Sick leaves,
- Vacation Leave,
- Holiday Double Pay or Paid Holidays and
- The most awaited 13th month pay and yearly bonuses.
Whereas online providers:
- Don’t always get double pay on holidays or are allowed to not work on holidays,
- Some employers don’t approve of paid leave,
- No health care benefits and bonuses.
I was fortunate with my previous employer: although I don’t have this health care benefit from him, the least he did is he approved of Philippine paid holidays and 13th month bonus.
Just like what I’ve said, it depends on your employer if he/she respects your perks and benefits as a regular online employee.
If they can’t give what is necessary for you, at least they could
- raise your salary or
- just give that 13th month pay and holidays.
Some employers give these two as an option or either of them. Unfortunately some don’t.
Why do I work online if I don’t get the benefit of a regular employee?
A regular employee’s basic pay amounts from Php 12,000 to 15,000 ($286 to $357) monthly, plus health care benefits and other perks.
As you can see on the above chart, my monthly expenses are $337. If I have a monthly salary of $357 in an offline “real job”, how much do I have in my pocket now…?
Also, if I work as a regular employee, I need to travel everyday and that will generate additional costs.
From my monthly expenses:
- $337 + budget fare in a week x 4 ($12 x 4) = $48 + $337 =$385
|Regular employee expenses||Monthly expenses|
|Food, Bills, Rental Fee||$48|
At the very least, as a worker online, I
- get to spare a little from my monthly salary (and my time) from not traveling everyday
- will not be one of those employees doing the hustle and bustle every morning.
- get to spare other expenses in my workplace like lunch and snacks.
So, if I have to choose what is more practical, I’ll work online. Maybe in time, I’ll find my luck in this career path.