Virtual Assistant versus Employee versus Freelance Worker

Looking for an assistant? You have plenty of options—virtual assistant versus employee versus freelancer. Find out which one should you partner with.

Employees are vital assets to a business. They bring creativity, knowledge and expertise that you need to power up projects and successfully operate.

However, in business, it’s not just about hiring talented people to join your team—it’s choosing the right person to drive your business to your goals.

Nowadays, the choice is no longer limited to in-house employees; different types of remote workers are on the rise. Virtual assistant versus employee versus freelance workers? That is up for debate. After all, they can all carry out various business-related activities for your company.

When considering which kind of “support” you need, let’s get into the nitty and gritty business of comparing these three. Is a virtual assistant better than a regular employee? Read along and find out.

Remote Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is an administrative remote assistant who acts just like a regular employee, performing back-office activities on your behalf. With their help, they can reduce your workload immensely and free up more time for you to focus on growing your business.

Is there a high demand for virtual assistants? Who usually hires virtual assistants?

The demand for virtual assistants continues to be high. Everyone who needs their excruciating workload off their shoulders seems to be relying on virtual assistance services. Entrepreneurs of today want more time to concentrate on the important stuff rather than doing repetitive, mundane tasks.

Here’s how good it would look when outsourcing to a virtual assistant:

  • Virtual assistants are not regular employees, therefore; they’re not part of your company’s payroll system, which means no compensation benefits.

  • Virtual assistants are not paid on a fixed salary, but by how much time they spend working on a project.

  • VAs take care of their working space and equipment.

  • You can stop outsourcing altogether without going through a lengthy transition procedure.

  • You can hire VAs on an “as-needed” basis. This means you have a choice to work with VAs part-time or full-time.

  • Remote workers continuously develop their skills and abilities to stay competitive.

  • Your virtual sidekicks can work 24/7.

  • You can work with any talented VA from around the world.

So, what are the risks of hiring a virtual assistant?

  • It’s harder to maintain constant communication since you’re working with different people in different time zones.

  • When there are technical difficulties, it could really affect productivity.

  • VAs are not your regular employees, which means they could be working with others who might compete with you.

Traditional Employee

Employees are direct workers of a business under a binding contract of employment. They are permanent members of a company who work on a given schedule in the office on a fixed salary with compensation benefits. Typically, they have a specific set of responsibilities and can’t accept other jobs that might risk a conflict of interest with their current employers.

Here's how good it would look when working with a traditional employee:

  • Traditional employees work in the same vicinity as you. Therefore, it’s easier to track their performance and productivity level.

  • You can talk to your employees in person. This helps foster a healthier and more personal relationship with them.

  • Traditional employees can support you with on-site tasks such as greeting clients.

  • If there are technical issues or any work-related concerns, it will be quicker to resolve them effectively.

Like virtual assistants, there are also downsides to working with a traditional employee.

  • Hiring will be expensive, especially if you’re hiring for a brand-new position.

  • You have to pay regular benefits, which include health care and paid sick and personal leave.

  • It’s harder to terminate and replace traditional employees. You’re going to have to follow the lengthy HR process.

  • Employees tend to only be productive for about 3 to 4 hours in a workday.

Freelance Virtual Assistant

A freelancer virtual assistant is a self-employed professional who offers services on a per-job basis right at their homes. They commonly have expertise in fields like writing, software development and consulting.

Here’s how it would look to work with a freelance virtual assistant.

  • Freelancers get to decide when and where to do the work.

  • Freelance VAs work with several clients at the same time.

  • Since they have immense flexibility and freedom, the role of a freelance virtual assistant needs communication skills and self-motivation.

Virtual Assistant versus Employee versus Freelancer: Who Saves You More Money?

To make a well-informed decision on who to hire for the new vacant position in your company, let’s focus on perhaps the biggest and most daunting factor in bringing in a new team member: the costs.

Virtual workers are said to be the most cost-effective staffing solution. Is there any truth to that?

Training Costs

Of course, employees need training, but virtual assistants and freelancers are professionals. You’re hiring them because of the skills that they already have. So, you don’t have to spend money training them.

And in case the virtual collaboration doesn’t work out and you’re not satisfied, you can hire a replacement without carrying the crippling financial burden.

According to the Training Industry Report of Training Magazine in 2021, companies spent an average training cost of $1,071 per employee. You can save this much money when you’re working with virtual workers.

Just give them directions and brief information about your goals, they can work right away without orientation, an internship or training.

Operating Costs

Virtual assistants and freelancers can offer about 78% operational cost savings each year. These costs include working equipment, office space, meals, utilities, renovations, and other expensive upgrades.

VAs and freelancers are not regular employees; they can save you a fortune by getting the work done with just an internet connection and a laptop.

Other Expenses

You need to take care of additional expenses when you’re hiring a typical employee. What are these other costs? These are the paid leaves, taxes, insurance, medical care, gratuity, and provident fund.

This is not the case with a remote VA and a freelancer; it’s a freelance paid task. You don’t have to worry about all the costs above.

In short, you’re scaling without risk, or very little of it. Virtual assistants are readily available when you need them and can work around your schedule if needed.

So, Work-Perk Wise, How Do These Three Stack Up Against One Another?

No question; the costs of hiring remote workers are just a fraction of working with a regular employee. But work perks are not about who can save you more money.

Here are some points to consider when choosing the right support:


Both virtual assistants and freelancers have more freedom. They get to set their working hours and choose where they work. They can work for other professionals and companies at the same time.

On the contrary, employees are on a permanent contract with an employer. They commute to a physical office and work on a fixed business schedule set by their employers.

Work Environment

Virtual assistants use their own resources to deliver their service—from workspace to computer. Just like VAs, freelancers are self-employed and use their own resources to complete tasks. The only difference is that freelance VAs are typically hired for short-term work.

On the other hand, employees need tools and work in a central office, all provided by their employers in a more permanent position.


Freelancers offer expertise in a particular field and are hired based on their skills. The same arrangement happens with virtual assistants whose responsibilities are around what they’re contracted for. Meanwhile, employees perform duties assigned to them by their employers.


Traditional employees work with strict supervision from their bosses. And although remote, employers have control and a say over how a project is completed with a freelancer. It’s only with virtual assistants that employers have no direct supervision, carrying out their tasks independently.


As you may already know, onsite employees are generally expensive to recruit. The costs go beyond just the monthly salary, regardless of the work accomplished. Virtual assistants and freelancers are more affordable; they only get paid for the time they spend completing a task, although the latter is cheaper for a one-time project hire.


So, which one should you go for? A virtual assistant or a traditional employee or a freelancer?

Our final verdict: Virtual assistants and freelancers are a better choice for startups and small businesses. They can cut costs significantly while giving you access to a much, much larger talent pool.

However, between the three, we must say that VAs ensure reliability and versatility. They can offer the steady and multi-faceted support that you need for long-term success.

So, the next time you need an assistant, think big, think virtual assistant!