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outsourcing personal assistance

Monday 11 February, 2008

I read Laurie Goering’s (1 of my favorite Trib columnists) article “Your personal assistant, half a world away” in the Chicago Tribune last week, which brought to my attention the breadth, if not the depth, of the offshore outsourcing phenomenon. Services such as Get Friday and Ask Sunday (why they have names of days of the week, I don’t know), provide personal assistance services online & over the phone. These services are being marketed to small & medium-sized businesses, & in some cases, it just might work. There are some tasks that could be gladly offloaded on someone 1/2 a world away who can complete some mundane chores more cost effectively, depending on how much your time is worth. From a businessperson’s perspective, it seems as if this is cheap & usable, but I wouldn’t trust them for personal interactions with customers no matter how good their English is. If I were a secretary/administrative assistant, I might be worried, because these services can do some of my job. It’s a bit scary that offshoring is now even imposing on services, which I thought were fairly bulletproof. What’s missing is the personal element, in other words, the opportunity for a boss to bond with a co-worker, & a customer (the organizer) to form a relationship with a local service provider. So I guess that begs the question, “Is it really PERSONAL assistance?”

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