With sophisticated mobile devices and nigh-omnipresent internet access at our fingertips, the days of needing to sit in on a meeting to scrawl down notes on a pad are long gone. People can have a meeting over VOIP, from anywhere, and record it at the push of a button.

One such example is the advent of virtual assistants, which can also be described as remote assistants. Where a traditional assistant follows their employer around a working space, a virtual assistant works from their own space to carry out the tasks assigned to them.

Here are 6 compelling reasons why every business should be using a virtual assistant.

They’re Independent Contractors

Hiring a standard employee carries its fair share of responsibilities and risks. There are insurance liabilities, tax issues, workplace safety considerations, and myriad other things the employer has to put time, money and effort into handling.

And if an employee doesn’t do their job to a reasonable standard, an employer may well feel stuck between investing more resources in trying to improve their performance or cutting bait and having to deal with all the associated difficulties.

Since virtual assistants are independent contractors, your only major obligation is to pay their fees. And if you want to stop working with them, you can sever the relationship at any time.

They Can Fulfil More Duties

Where a conventional workplace will use several people to carry out an assortment of similar administrative duties, it is entirely possible to consolidate the work and have a virtual assistant do most or all of them.

For example, you might have a dedicated receptionist tasked with answering the phone and handling your schedule, and/or a PR representative in charge of monitoring your image.

Well, a virtual assistant could handle those things. VOIP services like Skype and Google Voice make it viable to redirect all your calls to any given location, and a decent internet connection is sufficient to keep track of basic PR issues.

They Charge By Work Done

The problem with the classic model of the working day is that not all time spent in a workplace is productive. An assistant might drag their feet on a task out of a lack of incentive to work more quickly, or they might simply run out of things to do but continue getting paid to do nothing.

With a virtual assistant, you pay only for the time spent working. If you forget to assign your assistant any tasks, you won’t have to pay them for their time. That also means that you can afford to pay more per hour to get top-notch assistance.

They Don’t Need Space or Supplies

A traditional assistant needs a variety of things to carry out their work, and since they operate in an environment of their employer’s choosing, they need to be outfitted accordingly. At a realistic minimum, they will require a computer, a desk, a printer, a chair, and a working space.

What’s more, those supplies must then be maintained. The desk and chair must adhere to health standards. The printer must have its empty cartridges replaced. If their computer fails, you must have it repaired or replaced or they will be unable to work.

Virtual assistants can work from anywhere (often home offices) with all the resources they need to do their jobs. If anything goes wrong with their equipment, they resolve the situation themselves. If you move office, it doesn’t interrupt their work.

They’re Always Available

Having a full-time assistant in your office is one thing, but what if a client (or a prospective client) needs to do business outside of normal working hours? Even if your assistant is agreeable, they might not have the time to be involved in something like that.

There are virtual assistants all over the world, and there are plenty of great Eastern European options that operate at ideal hours. Ukraine in particular isn’t just a hotbed of technological innovation— it’s also the home of VAFromEurope, a service that’s rated very highly but relatively inexpensive because of the low cost of living in the area.

What’s more, the lack of geographical restrictions means that there is a much greater pool of candidates out there, so it won’t just be easier to find a qualified assistant in the right time zone — it’ll be easier to find a qualified assistant in general. You’ll still need to do your due diligence in vetting and guiding them, of course, but the numbers will be on your side.

They’re Easily Scaled

Imagine that your workload suddenly increased and you needed much more support in your daily operations. In a traditional scenario, you would need to look for a new assistant, at least on a temporary basis, or risk overworking your current assistant.

Having a virtual assistant allows you to scale your requirements much more easily, as you can take on a second virtual assistant quickly, with minimal hassle, and for as long as is needed. You can even deal with a virtual assistance service that handles the virtual assistants for you.

Think of the difference between manually creating a store CMS and using a readymade store builder. In the first scenario, your scope for progress depends entirely on the hosting you choose. In the second, you don’t have to deal with that element of the process; you simply allow your provider to allocate more resources to your site whenever they are required.

You lose some granular control with a system like that, yes, but you get a dramatic increase in flexibility and efficiency, allowing you to dedicate as much time as possible to doing your job. Same goes for VAs — you lose some control, but you gain massively when it comes to business efficiency and profitability. They can do the same for your business what SaaS can do for software — remove roadblocks to success.

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.