You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

How To Decide Whether To Hire An In-House Or Remote EA

Written by: Audrey Fairbrother

Dr. Ken Stein was in a tight spot.

His capital holding firm was growing. He needed an executive assistant yesterday but wasn’t having much luck finding one using traditional approaches.

An in-house hire didn’t make sense for the hours and budget available, and staffing agencies were unable to deliver the right fit. Stein decided to take a chance on subscribing to a remote executive assistant. He hasn’t looked back since.

Would Stein’s approach work for you? Should you hire an in-house or remote executive assistant? And is there a way to have the benefits of both?

To be fair, both options are the right fit for certain situations, and these considerations will help you find a rockstar executive assistant via the right model in a fraction of the time.

If you’re trying to decide whether to hire in-house vs. a remote Executive Assistant, you’ll want to consider these 8 things:

  1. Time to hire
  2. Cost to hire
  3. Culture building
  4. Employee happiness & satisfaction
  5. Overhead cost
  6. Availability
  7. The Talent Pool
  8. Security

In this post, we’ll look at these eight considerations of hiring an in-house vs. remote executive assistant (and a new model to do so).

1. Time To Hire

First up, decide how quickly you need an experienced executive assistant to start.

Hiring in-house employees takes time.

You will be advertising, searching, vetting, interviewing, interviewing again, making an offer, negotiating…and finally hiring. On average, the hiring process in the U.S. takes anywhere from 24 to 42 days (depending on location and industry).
Subscription staffing is considerably less involved.

The hiring process is reduced to around 3-7 days because many of those steps are handled by the subscription staffing company before you are even involved. Instead, you indicate to them what you need and are matched up with someone who fits your requirements.

However, you may also have the lead time to find the right fit for an in-house hire. If so, time to hire is less of a concern.

2. Cost To Hire

Next, hiring employees is expensive.

First, there’s the cost of recruiting; that includes advertising, paying other employees to work on recruiting, managing responses, interviews, and time (as outlined above).

Then, once the employee is hired, you begin the process of training.

All told, it costs over $4,000 to recruit, and almost $2,000 to train a new in-house employee, on average. That’s before paying any salary.

When it comes to hiring a remote executive assistant using the subscription staffing method, you’ll spend far less. In fact, you won’t pay any upfront recruitment costs, you just pay for the person’s time once you get started. You’ll be able to choose someone who is already vetted, trained, and qualified for the exact position you have open.

Even better, you can take that $6,000 upfront cost you saved and use it towards paying the perfect person right out of the gate.

3. Culture Building

A healthy organization has a healthy culture.

A key aspect of a healthy culture is longevity, keeping people happy and on staff. Employees who stick around are a stabilizing force, and they help new employees reproduce the company culture. With in-house employees, you can directly and personally influence and encourage them according to your workplace culture.

Organizational culture can be trickier with remote employees. Not that you can’t integrate remote staff into your culture, but you’ll want to be sure that the company you use when hiring your remote executive assistant is one with its own strong and supportive culture to assist in the retention of your team member.

Do some digging. Ask if the employee is offered benefits, or if managers are supportive.

Find out how connected they are to the company, or if isolation is a problem. Remote executive assistants are entwined in your company; you don’t want negativity and unhappiness from elsewhere bleeding into your own company’s culture.

4. Happy People!

Building on a healthy culture, a productive workforce is one made up of happy people.

Happy people are 12% more productive. They work better with others. They have more energy, complain less, make better decisions, and are better leaders. Happiness can be infectious, spreading great culture to others.

With in-house employees, you have a face-to-face connection. This helps to keep tabs on current sentiment by gathering feedback through individual conversations and personal interviews. However, just because someone is remote doesn’t mean they are less happy or that you can’t gauge their satisfaction!

In fact, we’ve found common advantages to remote working like no commute, location flexibility, and even work-life integration.

Again, you want to be sure that the company you use to find remote workers is one who takes their employee’s happiness as seriously as you do. Ask how they invest in employee well-being and happiness.

(For example, our staff are W2 employees in over 20 U.S. states who receive benefits, great compensation, and the ability to control their schedules.)

5. Overhead

Bringing an employee on board as someone in-house comes with significant overhead costs.

There are brick-and-mortar costs, of course, but also taxes, insurance, benefits, and training. You might also have to improve IT infrastructure and purchase new equipment.

Using a ‘people as a service’ model like subscription staffing to hire a remote staff member is much different. You’ll save on all of that overheard, particularly in comparison to on-site workers. Subscription staff are not on your W2 payroll but are highly trained professionals who are already used to (and equipped for) working remotely.

6. Availability

Nothing beats being in the same room as the people you are working with. Communication and situational nuances are more easily picked up in-person. It’s also ideal to have employees who are solely on your team instead of shared with other clients.

Remote technology, even with the best messaging systems, can’t match that. If working in-person and face-to-face is critical for your mission, this is a strong consideration.

Still, fractional availability has its upside, namely that you’ll be saving money and only paying for the hours you actually need a remote executive assistant to be productive. Consider this surprising fact: in most traditional office settings, actual productivity is low, while those who work remotely are actually more productive.

In many situations, a remote worker is a better option for the position than even a part-time in-house employee. As the workload changes, you can add or reduce the hours easily, knowing you’re paying for actual productive work.

7. Talent Pool

Top talent doesn’t come cheap (even when it’s available to you locally).

There’s a reason for that.

We are talking about executive assistants who are trustworthy, great communicators, able to anticipate needs before we do, and excellent problem solvers. They are the kinds of employees everyone wants. Desired, but scarce.

On top of scarcity, we don’t all live where the top talent is located, and our budgets might further restrict us. Some of these A-list workers might come with a six-figure price tag.

When hiring in-house, your access to top talent is limited by these constraints—though the best people are certainly worth the investment whether in-house or remote!

A remote executive assistant from a premium remote staffing company is top-level Fortune-500 talent that you have legitimate access to. Fractional availability makes a dent in the scarcity problem. Those constraints are gone.

8. Security

Depending on your industry, security may be a top priority. Traditionally, this gives hiring in-house (whether onsite or remote) a huge advantage over working with someone outside of your company.

If this is a concern, an in-house hire is undoubtedly better than working with an outsourcing agency, contractor, or gig worker.

However, there’s a reason companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon love subscription staffing models: time is money, and compliance and security issues consume a lot of time. (Not to mention legal implications.)

Let’s face it, those things can be confusing. Incredibly important and necessary, but confusing. Who wants to deal with it?

Subscription staffing companies, having handled all of that for you, give you access to their employees, ready to go. An outsourcing agency or gig workers can’t say the same in most cases.

This is because subscription staffers are insured, W2 employees well-versed in working through virtual private networks (VPNs) and comfortable using company provided equipment.

How Does Subscribing To A Remote Executive Assistant Work?

Now, while a subscription staffing model may seem novel, it’s actually an outflow of the new way our economy works.

We’re comfortable with subscription models.

Subscription TV. Subscription groceries. Subscription pet food.

In fact, even the state of Louisiana has capitalized on a subscription model to deliver healthcare.

We subscribe to just about everything now. Subscriptions let us pay only for what we want while reducing the headache. Pay the subscription, get a complete service. Today, the subscription model works wonders in getting access to top executive assistants.

Using the subscription staffing model, Dr. Stein found a highly qualified pro available to work the flexible hours he needed.

In the end, he said, “It’s fantastic to have a world-class professional who is available in a way that he/she wouldn’t have been otherwise due to geography,” Stein says. “And at a cost that is way more affordable than finding or hiring someone ourselves, especially in New York City.”

Verdict: In-House vs. Remote Executive Assistant?

With these eight considerations in mind, which approach to hiring your next executive assistant is right for you?

By weighing them carefully you can make a well-informed decision for your next team member.

Topic: Remote Executive Assistant

Updated on December 19th, 2022

About the author: Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager here at Boldly, when she's not spreading information about the benefits and joys of a premium remote team, she enjoys drinking a good coffee or going for a run in her hometown of Denver, CO.