What Is The Future Of Executive Assistants?
In the age of bots and artificial intelligence, some might say no job is safe. I agree. Whether or not technology advances are purposely trying to eliminate jobs they do. One industry advances while another slowly begins to become obsolete. Could executive assistants be next?
In Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey, they address how millennials should no longer be seen as the leaders of tomorrow, but as leaders of today. Those leaders, 75% of them, have a desire for freedom, flexibility, and location independence.
Pick your study or article to determine how many people will be working remotely by 2020. The majority I found say 50% of the entire workforce will be remote. Statistics of the companies increasing their remote workforce have also steadily risen and are projected to rise in the coming years. You can read some of the latest studies at Global Workplace Analytics.
Don’t think it can happen to the executive assistant? Talk to a journalist. Speak to someone working in the newspaper industry. Research the sales of print advertisers. Think you’re safe because your company couldn’t do without you? Do they know what to do with you as they hire more remote workers? Do you know how to support executives and the like remotely? Any industry that believes it can’t happen to them is at the most risk.
I purposely chose the industry of journalism and news as a comparison because it can easily be translated to the field of executive assistance.
First, let’s look at the similarities.
- Companies need skilled assistants / Americans need experienced, trained journalists
- When you don’t have a skilled assistant the company runs inefficiently / When you don’t have a true journalist you don’t get facts and informative news
- People are hiring unskilled talent or replacing admins with bots and apps / People are being fooled and fed lies by anyone with access to the internet
- The need for companies and business owners to have an assistant has never been greater / The need to be able to separate truth from lies and signal from the noise has never been greater
So what can we learn from the journalism field to save our own jobs? Well, we can’t ignore the signs to start. The job growth rate for an assistant is only expected to rise 3% between 2014 and 2024. With the rate at which technology is advancing assistants, I believe this number could even be lower. Which is to say a lot considering the growth rate is already lower than average.
Many journalists become freelancers as the digital industry became the preferred source of information. How can you use your skills in the digital era? Many EAs will say their greatest skill is what they bring in-person to the office and the person they support. A skill which doesn’t translate online. You must be able to define your skills beyond a physical presence.
Is this the beginning of the end for the executive assistant? As we know the position now, yes. Are our careers over? No. However, the past already tells us business is not performing as usual. Executive assistants need to do what we’ve always done, change and grow with the times.
We, as admins, cannot afford to get comfortable. There’s no need to be anxious either. Those of us who have the calling will make the way. Don’t wait for what you know is coming to make a change and start down this path. “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today” so start by paving your future career path.
Because you can’t do it all yourself….Melissa Smith, The PVA is the bestselling author of Hire the Right Virtual Assistant and host of the Admin to VA Summit. Want to receive notices of clients looking for a VA? Contact Melissa here.