Original insights in international business and marketing
We all dream of having a personal assistant. At home, but especially at work, there is always a need for an extra pair of hands and someone reliable we can turn to for occasional assistance. Nothing major of course, just the odd support for setting up an appointment with a customer, making a dinner reservation, ordering flowers for the missus or perhaps booking an affordable ticket for an upcoming trip.
At work we used to have administrative assistants who did these kind of things for us. But unless you are at the VP level or in a C-Suite, chances are many of the admins were “downsized” years ago or the remaining ones now have to support entire departments or groups with dozens of people. Fact is that for many of us, we’ve simply learned to juggle these mundane tasks as part of our daily routine. In the meantime, technology and smart phones have come a long way. They promise to make basic administrative tasks easier than ever before but what they can’t do is give us the time we need to do all of these chores. There simply is no app for that.
There may not be an app for this in the near future but there is in fact a service that does exactly this kind of work. It’s called Fancy Hands and it is a service which bills itself as “Assistants for Everyone.” The idea is rather ingenious and the business model quite compelling. You pay a modest, flat monthly or annual fee for a certain number of requests per month. The least expensive plan (5 requests per month for $25 with no time limits) allows you to delegate a number of activities to invisible experts/elves who will chase down a wide range of requests for you. Requests vary widely but can cover anything from doing research, making appointments, chasing down information, etc… Here are a few examples from the Fancy Hands website:
Although I have not personally used this service (nor do I have any ties to the company), I like the concept and judging by the positive press reviews and customer testimonies Fancy Hands has received in the past 3 years, others do too. This service seems ideal for frazzled parents juggling work and family life or busy executives who are on the road a lot.
On the one hand, subscription to this type of service is ideal for that special person in your life (you?) who could use a little extra help when things are crazy and time is in short supply. On the other hand, it also makes the ideal “gift” to members of a business group who carry a heavy workload and don’t have the benefit of an administrative assistant. Look at it this way: for a team of 10 people, you could try to hire an administrative assistant for say, $30K/year (not including health/retirement benefits and work space + supplies). Or, you could offer each team member an annual subscription (25 requests/month) for just under $600, or $5,850 in total for all 10 people. For less than 20% of the cost of a full-time admin, you could help improve the productivity and engagement of your entire team. Consider that these monthly requests could be used for both work and personal needs. Doesn’t matter. The goal is to free up time to get more things done.
Perhaps as a special reward for your team or because there is no budget for an admin headcount this year, you might want to give this type of service a closer look. The gift of improved productivity and more time may not be the same as getting cold, hard cash but it can help lighten the load.