Virtual assistance organisation Good Line NZ has noticed a significant uptick in businesses seeking virtual assistance to ensure their teams don’t succumb to overwhelming pressures.

Founder and director Sabrina O’Flaherty says in today’s business world, prioritising the mental health of employees has become essential for organisational success. In recognising the detrimental effects of burnout, businesses are increasingly turning to virtual assistants (VAs) to provide vital support, she says.

O’Flaherty founded Good Line NZ eight years ago, with the vision to provide VAs to entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who needed to focus on what they do best and leave the admin and daily business tasks to a dedicated assistant.

O’Flaherty says she has seen a mindset shift among businesses recently.

“We’re seeing quite a few corporations coming to us as they have an understanding that their team is important and that they are either overstretched due to the seasonality of the business or due to corporate restructures. They are really conscious of their team’s mental health and want to support them, not burn them out.”

She says corporates are becoming more aware of the increasing pressures and tensions in the workplace. The global pandemic and extreme weather events have been major contributors to this in the last three years.

“Some organisations and some teams are just exhausted from the constant changes that have happened since the initial Covid-19 wave. That’s both from a corporate perspective of wanting to support and keep really amazing team members but also from employees going, ‘I actually don’t want to be working Monday to Friday nine to five, going to an office, having that additional expenditure’.

“Because that’s the other element – the cost of living is obviously increasing and for people going into an office every single day is a cost they want to reduce.”

Businesses are becoming more aware of the hybrid working model and are either providing employees with a work-life balance or are outsourcing VA support to assist their team through this.

On the other hand, O’Flaherty says she is seeing more women leaving traditional office-based roles and are opting for a more flexible arrangement in the VA sector.

“I am seeing a lot of people that are highly talented, with great experience, and mostly mums, that are coming to us asking to join our VA team, because they’ve seen how they can work effectively from home. They want to have a work–life balance. They’re wanting to be looking after the mental health of both themselves and their family.”

“Mental health of employees is becoming more essential for organisational success.” – Sabrina O’Flaherty.

Good Line NZ began operations in 2016 with two people (O’Flaherty and an assistant), and in the last two years the company has grown from five to fifteen assistants, working with various New Zealand corporations, councils, charities and startups. The business has also had its revenue double every year for the last three years.

Every VA at Good Line NZ has a minimum of five to eight years’ experience either as an executive or management level assistant to a CEO, owner or founder.

“We look for people who have a wealth of knowledge in the corporate sector and whose skills can be of support to other New Zealand SMEs and entrepreneurs who are in a growth phase.”

In the last six months Good Line NZ has been commissioned to provide executive VA support for a big New Zealand corporate brand who went through a transformation project.

“It was a really cost-effective way for them to be able to have the support instantly while also finding the right people for the permanent roles. We were able to showcase where the support was needed, how many hours were needed for the role and how an assistant team could drive their business to the next stage. This resulted in them hiring two to three people and we were able to assist in that transition.”

Good Line NZ’s team are not there to replace permanent roles, says O’Flaherty.

They either fill a need for a set busy period, support an overstretched team or assist the business owner or CEO by becoming their dedicated assistant and reduce their workload, making them more productive and efficient.

“We allow business owners and corporations a bit of breathing space while they work through their business structure without workflow interruptions.”

The one thing O’Flaherty knew as she went into business was that she couldn’t do it alone. She recalls being “lucky” to have received funding from the Regional Business Partner Network [RBPN], who were able to connect O’Flaherty with a business mentor and an accountant. She also has a leadership coach and a pricing expert. The four work like a board of directors to help keep her accountable when she needs to be. One thing she wished though: to have had them on board sooner.

“As an owner and founder, I know I can’t do it all myself. I can’t have multiple hats in the business and still have it thrive. You need to get that additional support from experts in their fields to help you through.

“And trust the people that work with you and look after them. It is more costly to a business to replace a core team member than to support them with additional expert hands.”

So what’s next for Good Line NZ? O’Flaherty hopes to expand by further growing her team from fifteen to at least twenty VAs by the end of this financial year. She already has a dedicated office space in West Auckland to do that.

She’s also eyeing a win this September at the VA Awards, where she has been a finalist before.

“Getting this accolade will be a great way to cement all the amazing work we have achieved this last year.”

As Good Line NZ continues to thrive, bridging the gap between businesses seeking team support and talented individuals pursuing a better work-life balance, the agency is poised for further growth and recognition.

Story by Mina Amso.

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