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Hiring Executive Assistants from the Philippines: 5 Pros and Cons

An executive assistant (EA) provides vital administrative support to senior executives, helping them keep smooth and efficient operations within a company. By handling scheduling, communication management, and project coordination, EAs allow executives to focus on strategic aspects of the business.

Recently, there has been a visible shift towards outsourcing executive assistants in the Philippines. In fact, one out of eight million roles on Upwork are held by Filipino executive assistants.

If you’re short on talent and need administrative help, then the Philippines is where you could look for outsourcing solutions as part of your offshore strategy. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring remote executive assistants from the country?

This guide will give you an overview of the pros and cons of hiring a Filipino executive assistant and the best practices for hiring one.

5 Pros and Cons of Hiring Executive Assistants from the Philippines

Here are some of the pros and cons when you hire an executive assistant from the Philippines:

Pros

1. Cost-effectiveness

Hiring executive assistants from the Philippines can lead to substantial cost savings compared to hiring locally in Western countries. The average pay for an executive assistant in Australia is around AU$ 86,109 annually; in the Philippines, it’s around AU$ 10,156 annually.

The salary difference, combined with the lower cost of living in the Philippines, makes outsourcing administrative services an economically attractive option for managing business expenses without compromising quality.

2. Strong work ethic and adaptability

Filipino workers are known for their strong work ethic, dedication, and reliability. Their flexibility allows them to seamlessly incorporate into various work environments and effectively handle diverse tasks. 

The cultural emphasis on “bayanihan,” a Filipino term for communal unity and cooperation, fosters a collaborative work style. 

Filipino EAs typically exhibit a positive attitude and excel as team players, contributing to a harmonious and productive work environment. Their willingness to support colleagues makes them invaluable team members.

3. High level of education and skills

The Philippines boasts a high literacy rate of around 97%, with many Filipinos pursuing higher education in fields relevant to executive assistant roles, such as business administration and communication. 

The well-educated workforce ensures that your executive assistant will have the necessary skills and expertise to perform their duties effectively.

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4. English proficiency

According to the EF English Proficiency Index, the Philippines ranks high in English skills among non-native-speaking countries. This is unsurprising, considering that English is one of its official languages and is considered as the country’s (unofficial or official?) second language. 

This linguistic advantage significantly reduces the risk of miscommunication, enabling Filipino executive assistants to interact effectively with international clients and colleagues. 

5. Cultural compatibility

The Philippines has been significantly influenced by Western culture throughout its history, leading Filipinos to have a deep understanding of Western business practices. 

Known for their hospitality and respectful nature, Filipinos are polite, warm, and genuinely willing to help. This cultural inclination creates a positive working environment and cultivates strong relationships between the EA and their employers.

Cons

1. Possible communication challenges

Despite the Philippines’ high level of English proficiency, there can still be communication barriers due to time zone differences and occasional language nuances. For instance, using the phrase “for a while” when asking a customer to hold during a call. 

To mitigate these challenges, you should establish flexible working hours to allow for overlapping time zones and use communication tools like Slack and Zoom. Regular check-ins can help clear any confusion or misunderstandings.

2. Dependence on technology

One of the major drawbacks of outsourcing executive assistants, whether for logistics services, lead generation companies, or any other industry, is the reliance on technology for communication and task management. 

Technical or connectivity issues can wrench operations, especially if your EA needs to constantly communicate with different teams. 

You must have backup plans and solutions for these potential speed bumps. Ensure that your Filipino EA has a reliable internet connection (and mobile data, just in case) and the necessary hardware to perform tasks without interruptions.

3. Cultural differences in work practices

While cultural compatibility is generally an advantage, there can be differences in work practices and expectations. For instance, the hierarchical nature of Filipino workplaces may contrast with the more egalitarian approach of other businesses. 

To address this, try to set clear expectations and provide cultural sensitivity training for both parties. Bridging understanding between cultures can help clear up any misunderstandings.

4. Legal and logistical considerations

Hiring an executive assistant from another country involves navigating various legal and logistical issues, such as compliance with local labour laws and handling international payments. 

Look for a lawyer well-versed in the country’s labour laws, or consider partnering with a third-party company that can handle the legalities.

5. Employee retention concerns

Retaining outsourced employees can be challenging, as they may be enticed by higher-paying opportunities elsewhere. To enhance retention, you should focus on providing competitive salaries and fostering a positive work culture that values and rewards your EA’s contributions.

6 Best Practices When Outsourcing Executive Assistants

Here are some of the best practices to consider when you’re outsourcing an executive assistant:

1. Define job roles and responsibilities

Clearly defining the job roles and duties of the executive assistant (EA) helps attract candidates with the right skills and sets clear expectations from the outset. The job description should outline specific tasks, such as managing schedules, coordinating meetings, and communicating with vendors or company teams. 

2. Evaluate skills and experience

If you’re looking for an EA for yourself or another executive, you want someone with the right skills and experience. Interview candidates with a proven track record in administrative roles, excellent organisational abilities, and strong communication skills. 

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Consider their problem-solving capabilities and their ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently. If you require them to use specific software or tools daily, ensure they have them as well. 

You may also want to check their references and past job performance to assure yourself that you’re hiring the best applicant for your needs.

3. Establish effective communication channels

Effective communication is vital when working with executive assistants, especially if they are located remotely. Use tools like Slack, Zoom, and Trello for regular updates, video conferences, and task management. 

Setting up regular meetings and providing clear guidelines on communication preferences can help avoid misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page.

4. Assess cultural fit

When interviewing potential EAs, you should ensure alignment with your company’s values and work environment. Ask candidates about their teamwork skills, problem-solving approach, and how they would apply your values to real-life scenarios.

A good cultural fit can lead to better cooperation and job satisfaction, which is crucial for long-term success.

5. Implemented a structured onboarding process

A structured onboarding process helps new executive assistants integrate smoothly into your company. Provide comprehensive training on company policies, procedures, and tools they will use. 

You must assign a mentor or point of contact to assist new hires during their first weeks. Straightforward onboarding processes help them understand their role and expectations, reducing the learning curve and enabling them to contribute effectively sooner.

6. Set metrics and provide feedback

Setting clear performance metrics helps you evaluate if your executive assistant is performing in their role. Some key performance indicators (KPIs) you could measure are task completion rates, accuracy, and timeliness. 

Regularly review their performance against these metrics and provide constructive feedback. Continuous feedback and open communication help identify areas for improvement and professional growth so your EA continues to meet the evolving needs of the business.

The Right EA in Your Corner

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Outsourcing executive assistants from the Philippines offers several benefits, including cost savings, a strong work ethic, and cultural compatibility. However, you still need to carefully evaluate your business needs and adhere to best practices to find the best fit for your organization.

At optiBPO, we specialise in offshore outsourcing in the Philippines, helping you plan, build and manage your team of highly skilled executive assistants. With our expertise, we help businesses seamlessly integrate remote EAs, ensuring they become valuable assets to your company.

Book a chat with us for a free consultation about our services and to explore our tailored solutions that can fit your executive needs.