regular blog

Virtual assistants vs. personal assistants: Which one is right for you?

Do you need groceries ordered or do you need Thursday’s presentation updated? These are oversimplified questions, but they give you a basic look at virtual assistants vs personal assistants.

In this blog article, we will explore the key differences between virtual assistants and personal assistants, including their unique advantages and challenges, to help you determine which one is the right fit for your needs.

infographic comparing personal assistant vs virtual assistant and which one is right for you.

What is a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistants are skilled professionals who work remotely and provide administrative, creative, or technical support services to clients. They are typically self-employed and can work for individuals or businesses on a contract basis. Communication with virtual assistants (VAs) is primarily done through digital channels like email, messaging apps and virtual meeting platforms.

caucasian woman wearing a headset as a customer support virtual assistant writing notes

Advantages of virtual assistants

Flexibility and cost-effectiveness

One of the significant advantages of hiring a virtual assistant is the flexibility it offers. Since they work remotely, you can engage them for specific tasks or projects without the need for a full-time commitment. This flexibility allows you to scale their services up or down based on the changing needs of your business. Additionally, virtual assistants often have more competitive rates compared to traditional personal assistants, making them cost-effective for small businesses, nonprofit organizations, or individuals on a budget.

Diverse skill set

Virtual assistants come from various professional backgrounds, which means they bring a diverse skill set to the table. Whether you need help with administrative tasks, social media management, content creation, bookkeeping tasks or customer support, you can find a VA with the expertise you require. This versatility ensures that you get specialized support tailored to your specific needs.

Large talent pool

The remote nature of virtual assistant work means you can access a vast talent pool from Canada and the U.S. This extended reach allows you to find virtual assistants with unique perspectives and experience that can bring fresh ideas and approaches to your projects.

Potential challenges with virtual assistants


While technology enables seamless connections, it can also lead to potential communication challenges when working with virtual assistants. Differences in time zones, language barriers, or misunderstandings via text-based communication can potentially create hurdles in the working relationship. Having regular check-ins with clear communication can definitely help.

Lack of physical presence

Virtual assistants may excel in remote support, but the absence of physical presence can be a drawback in some situations. For tasks that require on-site attendance, such as event management or personal errands, a VA may not be the most suitable option.

The role of personal assistants

Personal assistants, on the other hand, are individuals who provide dedicated support to clients in person. They are often employed directly by individuals or companies to manage daily tasks, scheduling, and other personal or professional responsibilities.

woman holding bursting bag of groceries up in front of the camera

Advantages of personal assistants

Personalized attention

Having a personal assistant means having someone physically present to handle your tasks, which allows for a higher degree of personalized attention and understanding of your preferences. This depth of engagement can be especially beneficial for business owners or busy leaders who require hands-on assistance.

On-site support

In situations that require an actual person present, PAs are the clear winner. Whether you need someone to attend events on your behalf, answer your in-office phone and keep your day moving, or taking notes at an in-person meeting, personal assistants can take care of tasks that require physical, hands-on attention.

Building connected relationships

Working closely with a PA can foster a more involved working relationship. Personal assistants can hyper anticipate your needs over time as they’re with you personally day in and day out, making the collaboration more efficient.

Potential challenges with personal assistants

Higher costs

Personal assistants typically require full-time employment, which can lead to higher costs, including salaries, benefits, and other overhead expenses. This option may not be financially feasible for small businesses or entrepreneurs with limited budgets.

Limited skill set

Unlike virtual assistants, who often have a diverse range of skills, personal assistants may have limitations based on their individual expertise. Finding a personal assistant with all the necessary skills you require can often be a lengthy and more challenging process.

Which one is right for you?

Determining whether a virtual assistant or a personal assistant is the right fit for you depends on several factors as listed below.

Budget constraints

If you have financial limitations and require assistance with specific tasks or projects, a virtual assistant might be the more suitable option. They offer cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality, you pay for the work done instead of a full-time salary.

Task requirements

Consider the nature of the tasks you need assistance with. If they involve on-site presence or personal attention, a personal assistant may be the better choice. Conversely, virtual assistants can cater to a wide range of tasks that can be managed remotely.

Communication and location preferences

Evaluate your comfort level with digital communication and your preference for working with someone in your physical vicinity. If you value face-to-face interactions and immediate physical support, a personal assistant may align better with your preferences. If you work from home or you don’t require someone on-site and are digitally savvy, a virtual assistant would be a great fit. This is especially true if you’ll be sharing your VA with your team who works remotely or with a hybrid schedule.

Level of expertise needed

If you require specialized skills or need support in multiple areas, a virtual assistant’s diverse skill set and access to Canadian and U.S.-based talent is exactly what you need. They’re more likely to have experience in a broader range of tasks compared to a personal assistant.

Both virtual assistants and personal assistants offer valuable support in managing your professional and personal life. Choosing between the two depends on your specific needs, budget and preferences. Virtual assistants excel in flexibility, diverse skill sets and cost-effectiveness, while personal assistants provide personalized attention, on-site support and the opportunity to build a unique working relationship.

Use our bonus activity below to carefully assess your requirements, and you’ll find the perfect assistant to enhance your productivity and streamline your daily routine.

Combining the best of both worlds

If you find it challenging to decide between a virtual assistant and a personal assistant, remember that you don’t necessarily have to choose just one. Many leaders and executives opt for a hybrid approach, combining the strengths of both virtual and personal assistants to create a dynamic support system.

Indian man wearing glasses and smiling as he works as a virtual assistant on his laptop

Task segmentation

Segmenting tasks based on their nature and requirements can help you decide which tasks are better suited for a virtual assistant and which ones require the presence of a personal assistant. Administrative tasks, data entry, research, and content creation can be assigned to a virtual assistant, while tasks like event management, meeting coordination, and on-site assistance can be handled by a personal assistant.

Cost optimization

Hiring a personal assistant on a part-time basis allows you to have personalized attention and on-site support when you need it, while maintaining your budget requirements. Virtual assistants are often hired on an hourly subscription basis, such as our flexible remote talent packages. Combining these two positions you maximize your cost-saving measures even more without compromising on quality and effectiveness.

Communication Synergy

Creating a seamless communication system between your virtual assistant and personal assistant is vital to ensuring a smooth collaboration. Utilizing technology like cloud-based project management tools, shared calendars, and real-time messaging platforms to keep everyone on the same page.

Leverage technology

As technology continues to advance, the line between virtual and personal assistance is blurring. Virtual assistants can now be equipped with virtual reality tools or augmented reality devices to provide a more immersive and interactive experience. These advancements allow virtual assistants to handle tasks that require physical presence more effectively.


There’s not really a debate when looking at virtual assistants vs. personal assistants, because there’s no definitive answer as to which one is better. The right choice depends on your unique needs, preferences and budget constraints.

Virtual assistants offer unparalleled flexibility and diverse skill sets with a wide reach across Canada and the U.S. – making them ideal for specific tasks and projects. On the other hand, personal assistants provide personalized attention, on-site support, and opportunities for building more intimate relationships.

When making your decision, consider the type of tasks you need assistance with, your communication and location preferences, and the level of expertise required for your projects. Don’t forget – you can experiment with a hybrid approach that combines the best of both worlds.

Ultimately, the key to a successful assistant-client relationship is clear communication, mutual understanding and a well-defined set of tasks and expectations. Whether you choose a virtual assistant, a personal assistant, or a combination of both, having the right support can significantly enhance your productivity, efficiency and maybe most important of all – work-life balance.

Bonus activity

The objective of this is to think critically about the tasks that can be handled remotely by a virtual assistant and those that require a personal assistant’s physical presence. This exercise encourages you to analyze task requirements from both perspectives and understand the dynamics of working with different types of assistants.

  1. On a piece of paper (or use our Figma template), divide it into three distinct columns, labeling one as “VA”, one as “PA” and lastly “Myself”.
  2. Brainstorm a list of all the tasks you do, or need to do. Write them all down and consider both work-related and personal tasks if required.
  3. Put each task in one or multiple columns – keep in-person tasks for the PA and tasks that don’t require a person on-site for the VA side.