If you’re an office manager, you’re the eye of the storm: the calm anchor in the middle of chaos. It’s up to you to keep your organization moving and under control, no matter what’s happening around you. You make sure daily activities run smoothly so your team can focus on their specialties.
Your role likely touches every department in your company. If you’re an office manager, some of your responsibilities might include:
Businesses that hire an office manager often do so when their operations are disorganized and team members are overworked. Projects and objectives bottleneck, the team might miss deadlines, and the only way to get things back on track is by hiring new employees. Or, maybe the decision-makers are drowning in so many office management tasks it’s affecting the organization.
When a business decides to hire an office manager, they’re typically looking for:
Office management is a critical role, especially if you’re working to bring order to a chaotic, disorganized team. Companies should provide tools, training, and support that help set their first office manager up for success. After all, you’ll be juggling multiple tasks and meeting your team’s needs--all while staying productive and taking care of yourself.
In this article, we’ll share tips, tools, and tricks to help you:
If you’re ready to take your office management career to the next level, we’re here to help. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.
The secret to successful office management is being able to organize effectively--and use the right tools to simplify as much of your job as possible. Automating mundane tasks is the first step you should take toward freeing up your time.
A recent study from McKinsey found that we spend 28% of our workweek, on average, just answering emails. Another 19% of our work time involves “gathering information and data”. On top of that, 14% more of our time goes to collaborating and communicating. That means more than half our work time is spent not actually working on our most crucial tasks.
This probably doesn’t surprise you. Time-consuming tasks prevent many of us from being as efficient and productive as we need to be. As an office manager, you’ll add value by finding new ways to tackle these tasks.
So how do you choose what to automate and what to do yourself? Let’s take a look:
It can be tricky to know which tasks to automate first, but automation software pros offer some fantastic advice:
“Any process your office repeats more than a few times – even something as basic as collecting coffee orders – can be built into an automated sequence in which software reminds you to complete the task.”
It’s possible to break this concept down further by considering why offices need to automate certain office management tasks. At Hoppier, we believe the most important office automation goals are to:
Then, we need to take these goals a step further. It’s crucial to consider them in every decision we make. To do so, follow three simple steps:
Many time-consuming office management tasks can be easily automated to save you time and effort. These include:
Automation can’t replace every task--and it shouldn’t. It’s just a tool that helps us to hand off tasks that aren’t essential for a human to do. When you automate those tasks, you’re free to spend more of your time on critical tasks like:
Choosing the right office management software is critical to your success. However, it’s not always easy to choose the best solution. You’ll need to spend time researching the specs and costs before you make a decision.
Choose correctly, and you can save time, add value to the business, and boost efficiency and productivity. In order to make the best decision for your team, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the tools--including how and why they’ll help streamline your processes.
There are many tools to choose from, especially for automated tasks like payroll management. We have explored the top office management software tools [CB4] to help you get started. We have also covered what you should look for in the key areas of communication, time management, accounting, and other solutions.
1. Communication tools
Communication is critical, no matter your role. But it’s especially important if you’re an office manager. Effective communication ensures your success, and your team’s, too.
There are many incredible team communication apps and tools available. Here are three to get you started.
When exploring communication tools, think about your office culture and the nature of your team and company. Does your team work in an office? Do you have remote employees? Do they work primarily on desktop or mobile?
You’ll also want to factor in how much media, or how many documents, your team will need to share. The tool you choose should work smoothly in real-time and make document and image sharing easy and simple.
Before you choose a solution, ask for a complete demo. You may want to try out more than one tool before you make a final decision.
2. Time management and productivity management tools
As office manager, you will absolutely benefit from time and productivity management tools. But, they’ll also benefit your entire team. Tools such as ClickUp, Trello, and Envoy are all excellent choices, but there is an overwhelming variety available.
When researching time and productivity management tools, consider these elements:
3. Accounting tools
The best accounting tool for your office will depend on your company’s size and needs. Again, there are a ton of options here, so it can be a challenge to decide what tool is best. (Don’t forget, you can always request a free trial before you decide for sure!)
We recommend a cloud-based accounting system with automatic updates and automatic backups. Some softwares are designed for specific niches, so research whether there are any available for yours. Think through what add-on features you might need, and whether they’re available. For example, many accounting systems offer payroll or payment processing add-ons.
Keep in mind that once you choose an accounting tool, there will be a learning curve. It’ll take a while for you to fully benefit from all its bells and whistles. This is normal, but it also means you need a solution that offers excellent customer support and meets your needs as a manager, as well as a team.
It might be helpful to work with the company accountant to choose accounting software. They’ll likely be familiar with the tools that are available, and be able to weigh in on the decision.
Payroll administration requires perfect accuracy, and accounting tools that handle payroll are a fantastic addition to any office. These tools free up valuable time and energy that senior administrators would otherwise spend handling payroll manually.
Payroll tools are ideal for automation because payroll is numbers-based. It’s really worth handing off this task--in fact, the American Payroll Association (APA) estimates that an automated payroll can reduce processing costs by as much as 80%.
Automated payroll tools can prevent and remove errors. They can also add taxation documents and government forms. There are almost always unusual payroll situations that crop up from time to time, and the software can handle a lot of those, too.
As an added bonus, most of the top payroll tools are cloud-based. This allows for automatic updates and cloud backups--as well as synchronization among devices where needed.
Data entry and processing are incredibly simple in payroll software. These tools also have excellent reporting capabilities. Complex tax calculations may be simply or automatically done for you.
Some of the many payroll tools available include:
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What other tasks might you be able to automate? There are other fantastic tools available for very specific purposes.
These days, jobs aren’t as cut-and-dried as they used to be. Most workers wear many hats and juggle multiple demands. Our lives are busy and digitized, and we’re watching the standard 9-5 disappear, slowly but surely. Because of this, schedules are messy and complex--especially in certain industries.
But, it’s still necessary to have clean, well-defined schedules. A solid schedule will make your business more efficient and keep your team more engaged. Well-crafted schedules boost employee morale and help your bottom line--they can even reduce labor spending by 3%.
When it comes to best practices and legalities, employee scheduling tools will help cover you. You can use some automated tools to set up predictive scheduling, which lets your team members know their work schedule in advance. In the past, businesses have relied on on-call scheduling. We’ve seen this feature prominently in retail and hospitality businesses.
Predictive scheduling is linked to higher employee engagement. It can boost retention and help with recruitment. It’s working so well for so many businesses that many cities and states are writing it into law.
Automation makes accurate, efficient employee scheduling a reality. The tools we recommend include:
Business travel management
In addition to automating your scheduling, automating travel management tasks will take a load off and free up valuable time for more critical tasks. While many office managers enjoy travel scheduling, it can be complex and expensive--so it makes sense to hand it off.
Choosing the right travel solution is a large topic that needs to be addressed in detail. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right travel solution for your office. Check it out here.
Office snacks and supplies
Ordering snacks and supplies over and over is repetitive and time-consuming, but it’s essential to your team’s success. Sure, everybody loves snacks (we do!)--but more than just being enjoyable, they help us function better. Snacks can help improve brain function and physical performance, and keeping food around the office helps your employees feel valued and cared for. That translates into higher motivation and engagement!
You probably spend quite a lot of time monitoring inventory and ordering snacks and supplies. Sourcing, ordering, and staying on top of product expiration dates and dwindling supplies takes time--not to mention how ordering from multiple suppliers complicates the process. The benefits of providing snacks are amazing, but the workload? Not so much.
And it’s not just snacks--it’s also ordering office stationery, business cards, staples, pens, sticky notes, legal pads...and the list goes on. There will be some regularity here, but it won’t always be predictable. And, you’re shopping from multiple suppliers in the process.
Managing office supplies and snacks can be handled effectively using one tool:
Want some inspiration? Take a look at our favorite vegan snack options here.
Taking care of your mental and physical health isn’t just about living a happy, healthy life. Our health also impacts our productivity and job performance.
Taking care of ourselves positively impacts the organization’s bottom line. When we’re happy and healthy, we’re more productive. This is incredibly important.
The reality is, over a period of 3 months, people with depression miss an average of 4.8 days at work and will also suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity. Depression costs employers a mind-boggling $17 to $44 billion each year. When we effectively manage our workplace stress, we are more productive.
As an office manager, you’re a vital part of your team’s success and productivity. That means it’s essential to take good care of yourself.
So, as an office manager, how can you take care of your mental and physical health?
Being an office manager can be an isolating role. Even though you’re surrounded by a team--and important to them all--you don’t tend to interact with team members who do a similar job to yours. If you’re leading a team, you may not be free to vent--which can make you feel more isolated.
It can be helpful to connect with other office managers in other organizations. The simplest way to do this is online, and there are a number of options for making connections with others who have a similar role to yours.
Keeping a positive outlook can help us weather many storms, and office management is no exception. When you’re having a rough day, use humor to lift your spirits so you can get back to work with a fresh perspective.
Work-life balance: it’s not just a buzz phrase. It’s essential to maintaining your wellbeing and helps you be more productive when you’re at work. As a society, we’re gradually beginning to accept fact that working more hours doesn’t necessarily make us more productive. Actually, the opposite can happen.
Even though we know having a healthy work-life balance is best, that doesn’t make it easy to achieve. We all need to switch off once in a while, but in a our digital world, we’re often “on” 24/7. Staying permanently connected can make it hard for us to ever really be “off work.”
Luckily, there are several things you can do to make your work-life balance better. You can:
If you want more science-backed evidence for a healthy work-life balance, take a look at this infographic by Entrepreneur.
Do you suffer from work-related anxiety? You’re not alone. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40% of Americans “experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety in their daily lives.”
Stress and anxiety can be extremely detrimental to the quality of our work, our performance, and our relationships at work. Staff management, interpersonal relationships, and deadlines are major culprits, according to the ADAA.
But, it gets worse. The majority of workers in the U.S. suffer from stress, which hurts the bottom line. Workplace stress costs US businesses up to $300 billion each year!
Understanding and dealing with workplace anxiety requires a detailed discussion--and we’ve got a guide to help you out with that. For now, here’s a quick snapshot:
If you’re feeling bogged down by stress and anxiety and it’s affecting your work performance, don’t be afraid to get help. The American Psychologist’s Association offers a search tool to find a therapist near you.
It’s possible that part of your office management responsibilities involves and looking out for your team. You need a wellness program in place for them, too, so take some time to find out how well your employee wellness program is working.
Like all professionals, you need to take time for professional development. Keep an eye out for opportunities that can help you develop and strengthen your office management skills.
Office manager responsibilities vary from one organization to the next, depending on the company and the role. Some office managers take care of payroll, while others work on teams where payroll is outsourced, or handled by another department.
Still, there is specific core skillset that’s required for success in your role. These skills include administration, computer-literacy, leadership, analysis, communications, and finances. You also need to be well-organized, detail-orientated, personable, and a multi-tasker.
You’ll need to pursue professional development around both your hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are specific, job-oriented skills--like how to use your time management software. Soft skills are related to your interactions with others, such as effective communication or conflict resolution.
Personal development for your office management career means you must truly know yourself--including your strengths and weaknesses. Being honest and self-aware about your skillset will help you determine which skills need the most attention. You’ll also need to consider your company’s objectives and current situation when deciding which professional development areas to pursue.
Let’s take a look at the primary areas of office manager development.
Administration is a critically important skill for all office managers. It’s the most distinctive part of the work you do. We discuss it in depth in our article on the top learning courses for office administration[CB7].
There are many excellent courses to sharpen your administrative skills, many of which can be completed online. The Office Management and Administration course by Cambridge College and the Office Manager Diploma are both excellent choices. In-person courses are also fantastic and can help you network with other office management professionals.
Some of the skills you might be interested in building include scheduling, delegation, decision-making, multi-tasking, mail, data processing, information management, and conflict resolution. Taking an honest inventory of your administrative skills will help you decide which areas to work on.
You likely deal with accounting and finance in your office management role. These tasks could include overseeing or doing payroll or being the line manager for account administrators. It could also mean dealing with invoicing, bookkeeping, budget, and petty cash.
Accounting and finance tend to be concerning to many office managers, so it’s a common area to study for professional development. No matter your role, there’s a training option for you.
It’s also important for you to undergo specific training on the software your organization uses for accounting and payroll. Some are available online, such as Effective Bookkeeping and Payroll on Udemy.
If you’re feeling particularly nervous about dealing with accounting and finance, we highly recommend taking an in-person course--or one-on-one, if you can find one.
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As an office manager, you’re likely an incredibly capable project manager. Your job requires multitasking, such as juggling multiple projects, implementing new software, and planning an event all at once.
Project management, on its own, is its own area of expertise. But, there are plenty of courses designed for non-project managers like the Project Management by Edx or How to Manage an Agile Team by Coursera. Courses like this can help you develop and hone project management skills like project analysis and managing supplier relations.
You can also develop your project management skills further through mentoring or coaching.
Your office management role might involve business relationship management (BRM), too, especially if you’re part of a small company. (Larger companies often separate the roles.) Traditionally, BRM has helped us bridge departments like HR, finance, customer service, and more.
BRM helps departments to collaborate effectively, work together, and meet the organization’s goals. It’s used more and more often as a bridge between IT and the rest of an organization.
If you want to develop stronger BRM skills, you’ll need to be collaborative, analytical, and communicative. Types of BRM and training levels vary since different organizations have different needs. Finding a BRM mentor or coach might be your best bet, once you’ve determined what level of BRM you need to master.
As you likely know already, communication is a critical skill for successful office management. rather than being one skill, however, communication acts more like an umbrella that brings multiple skills together. Communication involves business etiquette, problem-solving, conflict resolution, negotiation, active listening, and effective delegation.
Communication also should be contextualized within different forms of communication. These include:
You can choose from dedicated communication courses such as Communication in the Virtual Age to more generic, soft skills courses such as Business Writing. Be sure to choose a course that will help you with the specific skills you want to sharpen.
You’re probably a natural pro at organizing, right? Our guess is, you wouldn’t have gotten very far as a successful office manager without being super organized. It’s your responsibility to juggle a wide range of plates, from hectic schedules to office processes.
That’s why it’s so critical to continually develop and refine your organizational skills--because they touch every element of your role. Perhaps you’re more organized in some areas than others. Be honest with yourself and identify areas where you could use a little boost. Then, seek out online courses like Organizational Skills by iStudy or by Udemy.
As long as you’re committed to ongoing development and honest self-awareness, you’ll excel at what you do. You will not only help your organization run well from day to day, but grow and thrive over time.
Company culture affects an organization from the top down. As office manager, you’re in a unique position of helping to shape it. In fact, cultivating an amazing company culture is one of your most important responsibilities.
You are a role model with the power to unify the entire office. As office manager, you get the chance to embody your organization’s values. And, everyone in the workplace benefits when they’re engaged with the culture.
Recent research by Deloitte revealed that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe their success is influenced by a distinct business culture. The same research revealed that employees are happier when a company has a strong culture. It’s a win-win for you to help build and shape an amazing company culture.
A distinctive, positive company culture helps boost recruitment, retention, and employee loyalty.
Here’s how you can contribute to the company culture:
Healthy employees are essential to your company, and companies have a responsibility to help ensure their employees’ wellness. This looks different from one organization to the next, but at the very least, you should consider having healthy snacks delivered to the office. Beyond that, you may need onsite healthcare, gym membership discounts or incentives, or workshops such as yoga and mindfulness.
Company culture and employee wellness go hand-in-hand. And, it’s not just about boosting employee health and morale. Having a strong wellness program can also yield an ROI of as much as 6:1!
Other benefits of an employee wellness program include:
It takes careful consideration to build a successful employee wellness program. To get a great program in place, follow these steps:
a. Evaluate where you are
First, you’ll need to gather information about your team’s health and wellbeing concerns, as well as their goals for both. This will help you to assess their priorities.
There are many ways to go about this, including sending out a survey or questionnaire. Health risk assessments are one method. These assessments help reveal which parts of an employee wellness program your team members would leverage, and how they use the plan you have in place right now (if you have one).
b. Seek management support
The most successful employee wellness programs have support in your organization from the top administrators, all the way down. Company management will need to evaluate, approve, and fund the program. Let them know the benefits of a stronger program, and demonstrate ROI where you can.
Before you meet with upper management, clearly define and lay out all the goals of the wellness program. Be sure to figure out how you’re going to track the program’s success.
c. Do some research
Take a deeper dive into the wellness program you’re going to champion. Take a look at your organization’s current program, the structure of the proposed one, and evaluate other services that are available. You may want to consider forming an employee wellness committee so you can delegate tasks, depending on the size of your organization.
d. Refine a budget
Compare your available budget with the information you’ve pulled together about the program you want. Beyond what management has committed to pay, you should look into lower-cost (or even free) solutions for your employees. You’ll also want to find out whether they’re willing to contribute, how much, and whether your company’s insurance program will help to cover a portion of the cost. Gather as many ideas as you can before moving forward.
e. Bring the program together.
Now, it’s time to create your employee wellness program. This will involve pulling together multiple elements. Maybe you’re starting a free group that gets together to walk on lunch breaks. Or perhaps you have vaccination clinics or a group for team members who want to quit smoking. Other offerings might include onsite yoga classes, reduced gym membership, or health screenings. Whatever the case, make sure you help employees feel motivated to participate, and rewarded when they do.
f. Evaluate the program’s success
Once you’ve gotten the program rolling, you’ll want to circle back to find out whether it’s working and meeting the goals you set for it. You can learn more about evaluating your employee wellness program here.
Even though a wellness program is a huge step, there’s still more to be done toward developing your company culture.
Speak to employees about what matters.
When company culture fails, it fails because it’s implemented from the top-down. You’re in a unique position as office manager--you get to bridge the gap between management and employees.
Employees need to be given a chance to provide feedback, so be sure you’re listening carefully to them. Set aside time to have conversations with your team about the things that matter most. Listen when they express their frustrations and ask for your help. Finally, ask them to provide ideas for solutions moving forward.
Have clear goals and objectives.
Employees need to know what clearly-defined goals they’re working toward. That means they need a firm grasp on the company’s objectives and goals, and how they fit into the big picture.
Having a clear, concise mission statement and company values can give your team members the insight they need into their place in the organization. These statements can help your company attract, recruit, hire, retain, and develop stellar talent that is aligned with the company culture.
Arrange a wellness day.
Having a wellness day is a fun way to show your team that the company is dedicated to its peoples’ wellbeing. It would be great to find out what your team members might enjoy, but you might consider an on-site mindfulness course, massage day, or spa day.
Arrange wellness activities for your team.
Here’s another great chance to check in with your team about their wellness interests. Find out what kind of experience they might appreciate, then make it happen. You could consider a sports day with competitive games, an office Olympics challenge, workplace yoga, or a biking challenge.
Your people are absolutely the backbone of your company’s success. So, it’s vital to center your company culture around engagement. Here are a few tips to strengthen employee engagement--and we recommend you also drive engagement with peer-to-peer recognition tools.
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You’re in a great position to help encourage strong relationships in the workplace. Organize networking opportunities and events for your team. And, help coworkers bond and interact through a shared break room (where you’ll keep all the great snacks, of course!).
Another important element of company culture that should come from the top down is positivity. Be a positive force yourself, and your team will follow suit. You can start by smiling more, on purpose. Showing gratitude is another great way to get your team motivated and feeling more positive. Take a look at our recommended ways of showing employee appreciation at work to get started boosting that morale.
Here are several ways you can kick off a more positive, fun environment at the office:
Nobody is an island, and nobody thrives in a vacuum. The best results come from collaboration, and we’ve compiled a guide on how to encourage team collaboration.
You’re an organizational master, and you no doubt enjoy this part of your job. Office managers like you get incredible satisfaction out of organizing and planning. And, because you love what you do, you have a chance to build an amazing workplace culture! If you need fresh ideas, take a look at our simple office organization suggestions to help your team be more productive, or our top 15 desk organization tips.
You are in the driver’s seat, so take the wheel and build the encouraging, positive office culture you’re envisioning! It’s one of the very best parts of your job.
Your team is at the office for a large part of their lives. In fact, Americans who work full-time average 8.5 hours per day at work. Keep this in mind while you’re cultivating the office culture.
In addition, 87% of employees say they wish their current employer offered healthier benefits. Their suggestions included sit-stand desks, ergonomic chairs, healthy lunches, fitness benefits, and wellness rooms. Designing your workspace well helps lower stress and increase productivity. It also has an impact on organizational culture.
You can incorporate many factors to help cultivate positivity, comfort, and inspiration in your office. These include:
Showing gratitude for your team members helps encourage a respectful, collaborative culture. There are many ways you can recognize your team’s importance and individual successes. Here are a few ideas:
Office managers all have their own unique way of doing things, and there’s no single solution for effective office management. Overall, though, finding ways to keep the office happy, organized, and running smoothly will all be the sole focus of your job. You’ll likely play a heavy hand in shaping the company culture while also being a critical link between different aspects of the organization.
While doing this, remember to keep an eye on your own mental and physical health. It can be draining to focus on everyone else’s well being, so make sure you’re taking care of you, too.
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