Employee vs Virtual Assistant: What Are the Real Differences Worth Considering?

employee vs virtual assistant

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The virtual assistant vs employee debate is becoming ever more important for business owners. Employees and virtual assistants can carry out many of the same tasks, including basic administrative tasks, office management, and social media. How do you decide which is the better option for you? As a business owner, you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of having a virtual assistant vs having an employee by considering your short- and long-term goals.

Virtual assistant vs full-time employee: the main differences

One of the most compelling differences when choosing between a virtual assistant vs a full-time employee is cost. In terms of overall costs, hiring a virtual assistant costs less than hiring a full-time employee.

Another main difference is location. You can find a virtual assistant based almost anywhere in the world — location is unimportant because VAs work remotely. A full-time employee, in contrast, will usually work at your the office and handle tasks in person.

For the same reason, the working hours of a virtual assistant may differ from those of a full-time employee. Whereas some employers like their virtual assistants to work regular business hours, regardless of where they are located, others allow their VAs to have a more flexible schedule. Plus, flexibility works both ways: VAs may also work the occasional weekend or holiday. In contrast, a full-time employee usually sticks to the usual 9 to 5 working hours — although there are exceptions. For instance, some businesses need employees to work longer than typical 8-hour shifts.

The cost of a virtual assistant vs a full-time employee

The cost of contracting a virtual assistant vs hiring a full-time employee is significant.

For one thing, there’s nothing more straightforward than contracting a virtual assistant. You and the VA can either agree on an hourly rate or a fixed monthly rate. You will only pay for the hours your VA works, or whatever monthly rate you agree on, and nothing else. Some business owners also offer bonuses, 13th-month pay, holiday pay, sick leave pay, and equipment and internet costs — but this is not a requirement.

In terms of overhead, you pay almost nothing for a virtual assistant. Hiring a full-time employee, however, comes with many additional expenses. These can include:

  • Healthcare (medical and dental)
  • Taxes
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Paid vacation leaves
  • Paid sick leaves
  • Overtime pay
  • Holiday pay
  • Payroll costs
  • Life insurance
  • Office expenses
  • Office equipment

Virtual assistant advantages and disadvantages


  • Most virtual assistants have a diverse set of skills. In addition to carrying out administrative duties, some are experts in social media marketing, SEO, content writing, photo and video editing, logistics, and even technical support.
  • Depending on your needs, you can contract a VA with a flexible work schedule. This means you’ll only pay the VA for actual hours worked or per project completed. Alternatively, you can agree on a monthly retainer, which means you pay the VA a minimum fee, regardless of the amount of work done.
  • For part-time, short-term, or project-based contracts, a freelance virtual assistant is ideal because you won’t need to invest in overhead and you can ensure you stay within your budget.
  • Virtual assistants level up their knowledge and skills in their own time to become more competitive. This means that you will not need to pay for any training.
  • You can contract a virtual assistant on an as-needed basis, such as during peak season or if you need help to complete work over a weekend, at night, or during a holiday.
  • You have access to a much bigger talent pool when you choose a virtual assistant, as your VA can be based anywhere in the world. This increases the chance you’ll find the best fit for your needs.
  • If you need to find a new VA, financial losses are limited to lost productivity during the turnover period. The costs associated with contracting a VA online platform are also minimal.


  • Depending on the platform you use, tracking hours and confirming actual work done can either highly accurate or quite unreliable. If your VA has a flexible but hourly work schedule, there may be room for deceitful practices.
  • Since virtual assistants work remotely, regular communication may be a problem. If you have a task that requires immediate attention and your VA does not have fixed working hours, there’s no guarantee that your VA will be immediate available.
  • Technical difficulties on the VA’s end are out of your control and may affect productivity.

Employee advantages and disadvantages


  • Meeting prospective employees in person is a great way to assess their capabilities and overall character, especially their work ethic.
  • Many employers prefer to work and interact with employees in person to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships. This is invaluable for productivity, a smooth workflow, and business success.
  • When your employees are physically present, it’s easier to keep track of their productivity and identify any areas for improvement.
  • Having an in-house assistant can lead to more effective communication, as it’s easier to promptly address any misunderstandings and mistakes.


  • Hiring a full-time employee is a substantial investment. There are costs associated with maintaining an office space and providing benefits.
  • Your company is responsible for any training the employee needs to acquire more knowledge and skills. In addition to costs, this means time away from the routine work.
  • An in-house assistant typically expects only to complete a fixed set of tasks per day. Although you can move tasks around if your priorities change, the assistant may not be able to easily accommodate last-minute changes if day-to-day business operations rely on an established schedule. As a result, work quality may suffer.
  • You’ll need to pay the employee a regular salary, regardless of workload. This may be a major disadvantage if you have long periods during which there is little for the employee to do. In addition, you’ll need to pay the employee overtime if you need work completed outside of regular working hours.
  • If you need to replace the employee, you’ll incur costs from lost productivity during the turnover period and from advertising costs or recruiter fees.

Employee vs virtual assistant: how much does each cost?

To understand how much it costs to contract a virtual assistant vs hiring an employee, let’s take a look at the typical costs you can expect to pay.

For a full-time, in-house employee at a rate of $15.00 per hour, working 2,080 hours a year:

Annual salary : $31,200

Payroll taxes at 12% : $3,744

Benefits at 30% : $9,360

Paid leave at 13% $4,056

Admin costs at 7% : $2,184

Total cost annually : $50,544

For a virtual assistant at a rate of $19.00 per hour and working 720 hours a year:

Annual salary : $13,680

Payroll Taxes at 12% : $0

Benefits at 30% : $0

Paid Leaves at 13% $0

Admin Costs at 7% : $0

Total Cost Annually: $13,680

Replacing an employee vs replacing a virtual assistant

The cost of turnover can add up to 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary. This means replacing an employee whose annual median salary is $45,000 will cost your company an additional $15,000. This estimate covers advertising or recruiter’s fees, interview and post-interview expenses (pre-employment tests, checking references, etc.), signing bonuses, and onboarding and training costs.

On the other hand, replacing a virtual assistant only incurs whatever fees you pay for advertising and contracting via an online platform.

Which option is right for you?

The best way to choose between a virtual assistant vs an employee is to figure out what specific services you need. In addition, take the above pros and cons into account, considering your budget, goals, and whether you need someone to be in the office with you.

Most of the time, the right solution is going to be a virtual assistant. Schedule a consultation to discuss your needs today and you’ll receive 10 percent off the virtual assistant services from MYVA360.

Jelena Mijajlovic

Jelena Mijajlovic is the founder and CEO of MYVA360, a virtual assistant agency filled with guardians of our ‘time bank,’ and genuinely versatile talent that help people increase productivity and get more hours out of the day. As an entrepreneur, business owner, and a full-time mom, she has developed a knack for identifying work gaps and filling them with the right people.

Jelena Mijajlovic

Jelena Mijajlovic is the founder and CEO of MYVA360, a virtual assistant agency filled with guardians of our ‘time bank,’ and genuinely versatile talent that help people increase productivity and get more hours out of the day. As an entrepreneur, business owner, and a full-time mom, she has developed a knack for identifying work gaps and filling them with the right people.


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