Office Management Has New Meaning
Changes in technology, as well as company structures and workplace environments overall, have made the job of an Office Manager more complex and dynamic than ever before.
In many industries, Office Managers do still manage a static, physical office where a core team of employees work during typical office hours. However, for many office managers (especially those that work for technology companies), the work and the people they manage are spread among multiple locations, time zones, and other types of workplaces.
Because of this, your role as an Office Manager is changing unthinkably quickly. And these fast-paced changes come with new challenges and new resources and tools with which to tackle those challenges. So while your job title may not change, the skills required for you to succeed in your role and the responsibilities that you are entrusted with certainly do.
In this guide, we’ll be exploring some of the changes you should anticipate throughout your career in office management, and address some of the challenges you will likely face on a regular basis. We’ll also discuss the inarguable value of your role and give you the tools and support you need to make a difference, no matter what your “workplace” looks like.
Cultivating A Positive Office Environment
The physical space that your workers occupy has a preordained effect on their ability and desire to do work well. Humans are largely impacted by our surroundings. We adorn our homes with artifacts and mementos that move us or give us comfort. We decorate our office spaces and vehicles to feel more “at home.”
Commercial spaces make similar efforts to uphold a certain atmosphere. Hotels and spas are designed to inspire comfort and calm while stadiums and concert venues are made to be aesthetically energizing. Medical facilities are made to appear clean and modern while restaurants can be a variety of things - moody, romantic, youthful, or cozy.
Aesthetics alone won’t be enough to communicate the mood or intentions of any atmosphere, however. The way people treat each other, the conduct and performance in the space, the organization and layout, and the ethos of respect in your environment are also key. A hotel whose staff treats guests poorly can’t muffle guest dissatisfaction with pretty art on the walls. A restaurant aiming for a cozy and secluded vibe will be met with distaste if tables are unclean or the dining space is cluttered and tight-knit. Surroundings matter.
While many of these places are designed with the consumer in mind, the workplace should also reflect and accommodate the preferences and needs of the people who work there. After all, employee happiness and comfort is exactly what will inspire the productivity and quality of service which ultimately delights your customers. You can impact the workplace environment in three key ways that will help to reinforce employee satisfaction and success:
1. Achieve the proper aesthetic
While design choices may not be yours alone, there are many ways that you can impact the look and feel of your workplace. From securing fresh flowers at the reception desk or calling for a flickering bulb to be replaced, to daily gestures like resetting meeting rooms and hanging art on the walls, there’s a finesse to managing a workplace that feels good to everyone. Tap into your company’s brand and the type of work your people do, for inspiration.
If you’re doing a lot of creative work and your brand is innovative and disruptive - go for the brighter colors, modern furnishings, and touches that inspire. If your organization is tranquil and your work is pensive and studious, consider a minimalist approach with muted tones and fewer visual distractions.
2. Maintain functionality
What good is a workplace if no work is getting done? In decades past, the belief was that working environs should be uncluttered, distraction-free, and, in some cases, the opposite of engaging. Workers were siloed into areas and expected to stay. Fortunately, times have changed. Research has consistently shown that workers perform best when the atmosphere is conducive to the type of work being done. Maintaining areas for employees to focus, to convene, or to take well-deserved breaks should be of equal consideration.
3. Protect the mood
Beyond the look and feel, the mood and ethos of your workplace depends on how people treat each other, the attitudes and outlooks among your team, and the centering of foundational themes like respect, trust, and creativity. How do your people speak to one another? How do most people feel and emote in the workplace? Is it loud or quiet? Is it creative and engaged or heavily controlled and cautious? Are these things serving your company or holding you back?
Once your atmosphere is accounted for, there are other office management responsibilities to attend to. You might be tasked with managing the maintenance staff, security teams, or technical support crews internally or externally through a work-order or ticketing system. You may also need to facilitate building upkeep with your landlord or property manager, order equipment replacements, and manage hardware inventory. While the specifics are infinite, one thing remains true: managing an office requires constant monitoring and decisive intervention.
Bolstering Office Security and Safety
One of the most important aspects of your company’s atmosphere is the safety and security of your team. There are a few ways in which Office Managers can provide a better workplace experience through safety precautions, security measures, and employee comfort.
This breaks down into 4 considerations for your office:
1. Is your office physically safe?
From keyed-entry to active shooter protocol, it’s smart to keep your building safe from intruders or outward harm. Your role may include locking the facility at night, managing security teams or monitoring closed-circuit cameras, or issuing keys to new employees. Similarly, it’s important that the fixtures and equipment within your workspace are safe to operate. Make sure that you’re considering all the ways in which your building and campus could be put in harm’s way and make a plan to mitigate.
2. Do your people feel secure at work?
This is less a question about safety from intruders or bodily harm, and more pointed toward interpersonal safety and comfort at work. A study by Google listed psychological safety as one of the top 5 characteristics of their highest performing teams.
Here are some questions you can ask to help gauge the psychological safety of your colleagues:
- Is harassment happening in your organization?
- Are tempers flaring and causing concern?
- Does someone on your team feel threatened by someone else, or by a client or collaborator?
- Is someone being unfairly discriminated against or targeted for their differences?
It’s important for you to have your finger on the pulse of the organization and to provide an open-door for employees with concerns like these. The first line of defense against this kind of discomfort at work is to purvey a code of ethics and conduct and enforce it. This may be part of your role as the Office Manager. You should also have a protocol in place to escalate these types of concerns to upper management or to your corporate lawyer as advised.
3. Have you employed safety protocol in work practices?
For companies whose work resides mostly on the computer, work safety protocol only goes so far. Without large equipment or sensitive chemicals to put your employees at risk, work-related injury or hazard should be a lesser concern.
However, if you do work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, logistics, engineering, or in other industries with elevated safety risks, your role as an Office Manager broadens. You will have a greater focus on proper safety gear, approved usage of equipment and materials, and potential for accidents.
4. Is your company and employee data secure?
Finally, there’s another form of harm that you’ll want to be aware of and it’s possibly the most difficult to prevent: a breach of security. All companies house some form of sensitive data - even down to the social security numbers or private information of your staff. Work consciously with your IT or tech teams to keep software updated, maintain data-related policies, and triage any potential concerns of infiltration.
Planning Company Events And Hosting Meetings
One of the often-overlooked skill sets that Office Managers need to have is the ability to plan and coordinate events. These events may vary from recurring weekly meetings and daily to-dos, to more all-encompassing retreats, summits, or conferences. There’s a lot to consider in this facet of your role from budget and facility or resource usage to food and drinks, entertainment, and keeping people happy.
How you’ll handle each event depends on the scale of the event and what each event sets out to accomplish. We’ll review a few examples of event types below:
1. Daily Scrum or stand-up meetings
While individual team leaders or managers will be facilitating the content of these meetings, you’re essential to their smooth sailing. You can help by setting up a suitable meeting space, sending reminders, serving an agenda, and - in another manager’s absence - conducting the meetings succinctly on your own.
2. Weekly all-hands meetings or team rallies
The all-hands meeting or company rally is sacred. By bringing everyone together, you’re providing a reminder that “we’re all in this together” and that the individual struggles and skills around the room matter to the success of the whole. It’s important to use this time to disperse announcements and key points of data, provide education and motivation, as well as give your employees the floor. Find out what your teams want to learn, what would help them do their job better, and what concerns need to be addressed as a group. Don’t forget to include your remote employees and give them a chance to contribute, too.
3. Catered lunch-and-learns or half-day training
New employee orientations, monthly lunch-and-learns, and large training sessions on new modules or software can either be a headache or a chance to build skills together. Make sure to test all technology being used to demonstrate or educate, prep the space ahead of schedule to save precious time, and be sure that questions get answered before meetings adjourn. As a facilitator, it’s important that you consider the appropriate size of space, the best audio/visual setup to support meeting goals, and have a plan to capture details from the meeting for anyone who missed or has questions.
4. Holiday parties or celebrations
This is the fun part, isn’t it? After months of hard work and no play, it’s finally time to grab some food and drinks, spruce up the place, and enjoy each other’s company for a while. Celebrations are a great time to get to know the real person behind each employee’s desk and encourage camaraderie, understanding, and joy at work. Some companies might form an employee-led committee to organize these parties while others trade off the responsibility. In any case, as you manage the facility and lead operations, you’ll be involved in the process. For the best party ever, make sure there’s great music, unobtrusive decor, inclusive food options, and entertainment to keep people busy and amused.
5. Off-site workshops, summits, and retreats
When it’s time to get your people together somewhere else, it may be your responsibility to organize flight and travel information, book a venue, coordinate with venue representatives or other vendors, set an itinerary, and even help to foster the setup and teardown of booths or other equipment. Your focus should be on employee safety and security, convenience and clarity, and budget-surety. From there, you’ll work with other leaders and support staff to make each event come to fruition.
A note about alcohol: In many of these types of meetings, alcohol may be involved. While libations are certainly welcome during non-working events and can make some of your staff more comfortable to mingle, it’s important to consider those who are made uncomfortable by the presence of alcohol. Be sure to include non-alcoholic refreshments at every event and provide a non-bar setting as often as possible. Part of your role in Operations or HR is to keep your people safe, secure, and comfortable at work - a fact which is only made more important during these off-hours.
Welcoming Office Visitors and Coordinating With Vendors
Your people aren’t the only people you need to focus on. New visitors will come to explore your office or workplace for a variety of reasons and you’ll want to be prepared to welcome them, triage their needs, and make a positive impression.
Here are a few of the types of visitors you might expect to see, and how best to accommodate them:
Candidates and Temporary Hires
Your employer brand hinges on delighting candidates and creating an inviting atmosphere where someone would want to sign on to work. Accommodate candidates by calming their nerves and making them feel at ease, ensuring that their meeting room is open and set up for the interview, and providing clear directions for them to find it. If someone is visiting as a freelancer or temp-hire, treat them like any other employee and ensure they feel confident and clear on the tasks at hand.
Customers, Clients, or Prospects
Whether you’re trying to make a good impression on a prospective client or wooing loyalty out of an existing buyer, make sure customers are given a customer-friendly experience when visiting your site. Hide the mess, keep employees on their best behavior, and paint a picture of function and focus that reflects your true capabilities.
Collaborators and Affiliates
Make your partners feel like family. If a representative from an affiliate company or partnering organization visits your facility, make them feel catered to, give them the inside-scoop, and embed them into your way of doing things.
Investors, Visiting Executives and Board Members
If you manage multiple offices and Corporate is coming to visit, it can feel a bit like mom and dad are coming to visit your dorm room. It might feel like you need to hide unsightly messes, turn off the fun music, and double-down on looking productive. Rest assured - your boss knows when you’re doing this. By making an effort to be more organized, industrious, and focused when no one’s looking, you’ll find it easier to maintain this perception when it counts.
Auditors and Inspectors
If you have a facility inspector, auditor, or another person of authority coming to investigate, inspect, or audit your building, you might be feeling a different kind of apprehension altogether. Never fear. You know you’re up to code and compliant - so your focus should be on making these individuals feel welcome, providing any necessary access, and getting out of the way. Remember, these people aren’t trying to get you in trouble, their goal is to keep you compliant and keep your people and assets safe.
Journalists or Media Personnel
If your company, or one of your team members, is being featured in the media, rejoice! This is usually a great thing. Welcome members of the media into your facility with open arms and remain honest, helpful, and warm.
Vendors and Service Teams
For vendors, your role and impact doubles. You’re often the person tasked to find, hire, manage, and monitor these individuals - especially those who service the physical building or workplace. From plumbers to grounds crews and caterers to cleaners, you’ll be surprised at just how many visitors you’ll expect to see each quarter. It’s a large undertaking to choose the right vendor, validate their licensure and references, manage their schedule of service to your workplace, negotiate payment terms, and ensure a certain quality of work. You’ve got a lot on your plate.
Eden’s Workplace Management Platform is an all-in-one tool designed to help you source, manage, and monitor all kinds of different vendors. You can put out RFPs to multiple vendors, review bids, choose vendors, monitor their work, schedule their visits, pay them, and more. To learn more, visit our homepage here.
Enhancing Productivity and Workflow
As an Office Manager, it’s important for you to support the outcomes of your company. Your work is crucial to supporting the work of others and helping to provide a conducive atmosphere for your colleagues to be productive and work effectively.
In the last several years, the internet has become saturated with productivity tips, hacks, and best practices aimed at more output and glorifying the idea of being “busy.” Your role is to debunk the idea that productivity equals fast output, and put a greater focus on optimizing processes for a better final outcome. This doesn’t mean you’ll be an authoritarian who penalizes casual conversation and demands employees to stay late. Instead, you’ll be analyzing how each employee works best individually, and what the collective needs to perform at its best.
The benefits of an optimized workplace go beyond better output or higher quantities of output per employee. In a work environment where things are getting done, there’s less pressure, confusion, or blaming between colleagues. In this way, employees are happier at work and there’s less friction in the atmosphere.
Workflow design may rest with other leaders in the company or project managers, but your role can and should help to facilitate procedures and provide a listening ear to employees who aren’t satisfied with the current processes.
Some of the best practices for fostering an efficient workplace include:
- Recommending and supporting hierarchical changes
- Designing or redefining org charts
- Redistributing personnel or other resources
- Retooling project management software and work
- Providing feedback loops for leaders and teams
- Facilitating customized workspaces or varied working areas to serve specific work functions - e.g. collaborative areas vs. silent working areas
- Advocating for flexible work opportunities, lunch-and-learns, or other chances to break up the day and offer autonomy to employees
Fostering Collaboration And Communication
One of the greatest hindrances to productivity is poor communication. From poorly executed meetings to mistrust and lack of respect, ineffective collaboration can easily disrupt the natural flow of work.
Without a healthy emphasis on collaboration and communication, companies can quickly splinter off into factions that subsist of small groups or entire departments. This can isolate and undermine employees, discouraging them from sharing creative solutions and potentially prompt them to pursue a position outside your organization that would be more fulfilling.
One such example could be a meeting between separate departments, wherein one department regularly undermines the other, comes unprepared and monopolizes the meeting time with subjects that over-prioritize their initiatives.
Another example could be an employee that doesn’t feel secure in their work, so they regularly hinders their colleagues to put their reputation and potential advancement within the company above their team’s shared goals and responsibilities.
It’s not until each and every employee feels equally heard and championed that an organization is able to maximize their productivity and employee satisfaction. The emotional maturity of your organization’s leaders and team members plays a large role in creating a culture of productive collaboration. Without emotional maturity, a clique mentality can spread throughout your organization and sabotage the company’s workplace experience.
In your dealings with different department heads and individuals, watch for these signs of poor collaboration. Make sure that employees genuinely feel safe to express their opinions openly without the fear of criticism. Encourage your leadership team to promote positive collaboration between teams and to celebrate each and every employee’s thoughts and expertise.
Helping Leaders Lead
Leadership challenges are not uncommon in any industry. Leaders may be overworked, under-respected, or just not the right fit. Some leaders have their hands tied and others have their hands in too many projects. While some leaders are distant - often traveling or handling big-picture issues - others are in the weeds, sometimes too much.
As an Office Manager, you’re a leader among leaders. While you may or may not have direct reporting employees, you are a guide and a facilitator for the employees you work with. From this unique vantage point, you have the ability to advocate for employees from a seat among executives and leaders. You have boots on the ground where other leaders may not. You have the power to affect change in ways that specific team managers may not.
You, along with other members of the operations team, have the ability to impose changes to the organizational structure of the company which helps thin out heavy teams and rescue leaders from undue burden or lack of fit. You have the power to implement better workflow practices that help take unnecessary tasks off of leaders’ plates. You also provide support services from HR to project management and beyond, which free up other leaders to harness their skills for their team instead of handling ill-fitting tasks.
When leaders have more time to focus on what’s most essential for them and their teams, everybody wins. Leaders are happier to be doing the work they were meant to do. Their employees are happier and have broader access to guidance and support. Perhaps most of all, you’re satisfied knowing that work is being done and that people are happy doing it.
Tools And Software For Office Management
The final hat that you likely will wear as an Office Manager is that of an IT consultant. Managing and optimizing an entire organization requires tools. These tools can help to aggregate the million things buzzing around in your head on a day-to-day basis and present those points of focus in an organized, all-in-one platform that puts your mind at ease.
Alas, even these tools need to be managed and optimized over time. Software applications collect data and that data needs to be stored, managed and cleaned up periodically.
New tech tools are also introduced daily, and certainly some of them have to be an improvement on the older tools, right? Well, it’s the role of the IT Director and the Office Manager to optimize how the organization utilizes their various tools, software applications, and integrations to ensure all teams are empowered to work efficiently, while also optimizing budget and reducing any overlap between tools.
- From IT support to pest control and everything in between, Eden is your all-in-one platform for managing workplace operations.
- Slack is a robust and yet user-friendly communication software that empowers teams to get connected by offering the ability for users to create numerous chat channels for specific projects or water cooler talk, make calls and share files.
- Lattice allows Office Managers to monitor employee satisfaction. This robust software offers features that allow leaders to conduct reviews, set goals, schedule 1 on 1 meetings and provide praise and feedback along the way. For employees, Lattice enables them to provide status updates, give praise to their colleagues, respond to feedback and track their goals in real-time.
Through the use of these various communication and office management tools, you can maintain a bird’s eye view of the needs of your office and identify trends and key insights that will fortify operational success.
A Final Word on Office Management
Regardless of your industry, the work you do matters. Our work powers the products we use, the places we live and visit, and the services that support our lives. From the smallest or most frivolous products to the most essential services, the work your company does facilitates something important to the human experience. It follows, then, that your role as an Office Manager, is no small feat. By powering how your people perform, you have an inexorable connection to what your company provides to our world. That’s a big deal.
As a whole, and individually, there’s little separation between what we do and who we are. We identify with our work. We spend a big part of our lives at work. Our colleagues become our friends and our managers become our mentors. What you do to ensure positive collaboration, workplace security and comfort, and encourage employee growth is essential to the success of the organization. While other managers measure success through KPIs and cash flow, it’s your responsibility to put people first and measure success in a thousand small ways that really add up.
How Eden’s Office Management Platform Can Help You Manage Your Workplace
Eden’s workplace management platform is an all-in-one solution for Office Managers and Facilities Managers across the U.S.
Using our services marketplace, you can receive multiple bids on any service that you may need to run your office - from office cleaning, IT support, handyman services, plumbers, movers, and more. Our marketplace only lists vendors that are recommended by other office managers in your city, and we complete multiple reference checks to make sure they are great.
Using Eden’s dashboard, you can chat directly with all of your vendors. This direct line of communication built into the dashboard ensures fast response times from vendors and a direct line of communication with your Account Manager too. All Eden vendors are trained to use our software, so you can rest assured that their skills are further enhanced by our technology, resulting in optimal performance
Office Managers and workplace teams can now streamline the collection and organization of employee requests. Your team members can submit tickets however is best for your office –– via Slack, website, email, or even our iPad app. No more getting tapped on the shoulder for requests. You can even see analytics around what types of requests are trending in your office, as well as your own request completion turnaround time.
To learn more about how Eden's workplace management platform can help you manage your office, request a free demo here.