Office Manager's Guide for the Modern Workplace
Administration is the backbone of an organisation, and the work of the administration team enables the company’s business to move forward and keep moving, whilst they look after everything behind the scenes. Managing, coordinating, responding, and enabling.
The Office Manager is a crucial role within this. As an administration professional, the role has changed somewhat since the early days of offices, with today’s Office Managers responsible for a large and varied workload. And with the evolution into hybrid working, that remit has become even wider.
Perhaps you’re a seasoned Office Manager, or maybe you’re new to the role. Wherever you are on your route, it’s helpful to have a guide to help you navigate your path to smooth office administration. We’ve put together a quick reference guide of some of the things you need to know and do as a modern-day Office Manager.
Day-to-day Office Life
Office Managers don’t typically operate alone unless it’s for a small business where additional admin support isn’t needed. Generally, you would have a team supporting you. You will be responsible for supervising and supporting your team both as a full team and as individuals. Depending on your company’s supervision structure, this would likely include regular formal supervisions and monitoring of work targets, and also informal more nurturing support.
With hybrid working, you need to be smart about how you plan supervision, considering where and when formal supervisions will be held, and making sure you keep open communication lines to workers who are working remotely so they do not feel isolated or unsupported.
And there will be a blend of colleagues in the office and working remotely, and whilst they won’t all be part of the administration team, as the Office Manager you should be aware of who is planned to be in and who is working remotely each day. You can use software for this, such as Team Today.
Office Managers should establish clear expectations and goals for their team. Work should be properly planned with tasks delegated to team members and deadlines clearly set.
The work of an office is rarely set in stone, so there will be tasks that are routine, everyday tasks for which the plans won’t change much apart from updating the dates and people responsible, and there will be project-specific tasks or ad hoc events that need to have new plans. Planning should be well-structured but also flexible and ready to adapt for new requirements.
The Front Desk
Administration teams are very often the first point of contact for visitors to a company. Whether this is a physical reception desk or a call answering service, Office Managers should ensure this is covered when the office is open and that callers are notified what to do if they call outside of normal hours.
There should be processes in place for meeting and greeting visitors to the building, including signing in, signposting, visitor passes, and general assistance whilst they are with you.
Colleagues should be trained on any switchboard/virtual telephone system and how to connect to other colleagues/offices. And to help everything run smoothly, there should be an up-to-date calendar detailing any expected visitors, meeting plans and actions needed.
Data Processing & Protection
As a core business function, your team will most likely be processing a lot of data, so all data processing protocols need to be secure, efficient, and easy to follow. Everyone needs to be aware of their responsibilities under data protection legislation, including how long data should be retained for, how to store it securely, how to securely destroy any that is no longer needed, and how to report any breeches in data protection.
IT & Communications
Depending on the size of your company, you may find yourself with a remit that includes ensuring everyone has the right IT equipment, software and communications set up. In mid-larger companies, this would usually be assigned to an IT team, but it doesn’t hurt as Office Manager to be as knowledgeable as you can in IT support so you can help with troubleshooting day-to-day issues that arise. This is particularly relevant with hybrid and virtual working.
As part of your Facilities Management (more about that below), you will need to procure suppliers for the premises such as those for utilities, general office supplies, and telecoms including internet.
Nobody wants a disaster, but it always helps to be prepared in the event something happens that affects the company’s ability to operate. Office Managers should ensure there is a full contingency plan in place for the office, both the physical and remote spaces, to cover what will happen should anything go wrong. Things to include will be data backups, emergency contacts, relocation in the event of something happening to the office, insurance information, key supplier information, access information to software to avoid being locked out, social media access information for company accounts, and client database information. Key contacts should have a copy of the disaster recovery plan, and it should be in a copy kept away from the office site but stored securely.
Facilities management is 24/7 and crucial to smooth running of the office premises. As Office Manager, you need to coordinate keyholders for the office, ensure they have the correct keys/passes to open up the premises and any other buildings. This includes access codes to disarm security alarms and handling this information confidentially.
Keyholders should be aware of protocols for reporting any emergencies out of normal office hours, including any security breaches on opening up the building, and any callouts in the night. Not all keyholders will be required to be emergency contacts, so it’s important to establish which of them are.
As part of daily planning, particularly in the hybrid workplace, Office Managers should coordinate and know who is responsible for opening up each day and what time that will be. Team Today allows you to log who the keyholders are and when they will be in.
Health & Safety
Office Managers, as with any employee, need to make sure the health and safety standards, legislation, and company procedures are followed.
Administration team members should receive appropriate health and safety training and be aware of processes and procedures, and of their responsibilities. We have some tips here for managing health and safety in the hybrid workplace.
Fire Wardens should be allocated, and fire drills coordinated; fire safety information circulated, and regular fire safety inspections and equipment testing arranged. As with keyholders, Team Today allows you to record who the Fire Wardens are and to make sure there is always cover in the office.
Similarly, with First Aiders. The number a workplace needs will depend on the size of the company and the risk factor of the work carried out there. Office Managers should make sure there are always the correct number on the premises each day and, depending on the remit of their role, ensure they are appropriately trained (in some organisations this will be the responsibility of the HR team/individual managers). Records should be kept for all accidents and injuries and reported to any relevant bodies as required.
With the increased awareness and knowledge about the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, you may now have Mental Health First Aiders in your teams, and you can record these too to ensure there is some cover, as you do with First Aiders.
If the company uses electrical equipment, as most do, the equipment will need to be regularly tested for a qualified person to confirm electrical safety.
Supplies & Suppliers
Office Managers should manage office and company supplies. This can be anything from the pods for the coffee machine to the supply of printer paper. A typical supplier list will cover things such as stationery, hospitality, cleaning and hygiene products, IT and printing equipment and accessories, and kitchen appliances. As well as core business supplies, there may be company merchandise to order and maintain stock for. All items, small to large, should be recorded on an inventory. For larger items such as IT equipment, this may be better on its own database.
Billing and payments should be managed to ensure a smooth, constant supply, and reviews should be scheduled for when supplier contracts are due for renewal.
Out of Hours
In the twilight hours, the office should be protected from the risk of theft and vandalism. Office Managers should coordinate security support that protects the building and provides an immediate response in an emergency.
Professional cleaning for the office should be arranged at times to suit the quieter hours too, and any maintenance and repairs to the premise.
Waste disposal may also be arranged out of hours.
Tools & Resources
Your office is your domain and there will be ways you prefer to work to get things done. But it’s always helpful to keep a toolkit handy so you are as equipped as possible for the work you do. Particularly as we are working in a hybrid world, many of these will be virtual, to enable all colleagues to access them.
For hybrid workplace management, there are tools out there to help you, Team Today being such a tool.
You will also probably have a suite of apps for general use, such as Microsoft Office, but there may be other tools you need too, such as project management software, travel management software, diary management apps, virtual noticeboards, meetings and conferencing software, and CRM systems. There is an abundance of excellent tools out there to help make office management in the modern, hybrid world, run smoothly.
For more insights and articles about hybrid working from Team Today, visit our blog here.