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Virtual Assistance market in Europe

By Sarah Santocroce, owner of Simplicity Admin Solutions

In a couple of weeks, I will be moving back to Europe, Switzerland to be more precise. Everybody who has experienced an international move, will agree with me, that it is not an easy thing to do. Especially when there are children involved… But that story is for another time… Today I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the Virtual Assistance profession in Europe.

I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to start my business in the US, benefiting of an immense networking system of Virtual Assistants and taking advantage of a plethora of tools and information material on how to start your own business.

You see, in the United States, virtual work is extremely well developed. According to Kiplinger, 12/00 it is estimated that 100 million U.S. workers will telecommute by 2010. Unfortunately this is not yet the case in most of the European countries. Here are the numbers:

Total number of teleworkers to overall working population:

Rank Country  Teleworkers %

1 UK             4 million 15

2 Finland     300,000 13.6

3 Norway       50,000 11.4

4 Sweden     400,000 10.3

5 Ireland         40,000       2.9

6 Germany     800,000     2.4

7 Pays-Bas   140,000       1.9

8 France      300,000       1.3

In France and other Latin countries, there is still a big resistance to teleworking. The term ‘assistante virtuelle’ is not very common at all, and people often don’t know what it entails.

In Germany, the percentage of teleworkers is slightly higher, but here again the term “Virtuelle Assistentin” is often misunderstood, sometimes as a virtual helpdesk, sometimes as a cheap labor from India, China or the Philippines.

In the UK on the other hand, they are more progressive when it comes to new working methods and Virtual Assistants are beginning to be recognized and their number is increasing. Bettina von Stamm of the London Business School said self-confidence, devolved authority and autonomy were keys to successful teleworking and the British style of management fostered those qualities.

The self-employed in Finland are generally classified as entrepreneurs, and it’s probably no coincidence that this country has the highest percentage of teleworkers in Europe.

Switzerland probably fits in somewhere between France and Germany. There is a lot of prep work for us Virtual Assistants, informing potential clients about our profession and showing them all the benefits a virtual business relationship has to offer. But when it takes off, I will be there!

Now it’s your turn: what are your thoughts on Virtual Assistance in Europe? Are you a VA in a country that I did not mention? How is the situation in your country? Please share your comments below!

Swiss national and currently living in the USA, California, Sarah Santacroce runs Simplicity Admin Solutions, a virtual assistance business working with small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to help them dedicate their precious time to their core business. Simplicity Admin Solutions offers tailor made virtual administrative solutions, Internet marketing support, translation service and much more at http://www.simplicityadmins.com

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