Office management
Ana Gotter
January 17, 2020
38 min

Your Ultimate Guide to Office Management

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Your Ultimate Guide to Office Management

Ana Gotter
March 6, 2020
2020 Ultimate Guide To Office Management | Hoppier

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: 

  • Office event management and organization: From client meetings and job interviews to corporate retreats and large exhibitions, you’re the go-to person for all things event-related. 
  • Supervision of administration: Your office management position might include overseeing junior administrators. These include receptionists, human resources staff, and facilities staff.  
  • Administration: You wear multiple hats in your company, but you’re also a pro at building strategies and systems to accomplish your daily tasks efficiently. 
  • Supplier management: You’re a strong communicator, and this shines through when you manage and nurture relationships with suppliers. You often act as an agent between suppliers and administrators, so excellent relationship-building skills are key.
  • Finance and HR: You may regularly take the reins on tasks that connect finance and HR, depending on the size and scope of your organization. Some of your tasks may include payroll, credit control, recruitment, and attendance management.
  • Facilities management: You might help to organize and oversee your work facilities, making sure staff workstations are ergonomic, printers are fully supplied with paper and ink, the break room is clean, and that team members are thriving. 
  • Budgeting: From supply orders to quarterly budgets, you’re likely responsible for managing the office (or company) organizational budget. 
Business woman and man posing like heros with capes and arms flexed
Image source: MADofficehero.com

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: 

  • Improved efficiency: A manager who follows methods and systems that save time, reduce errors, boost efficiency, save money, and help to increase revenue--all while helping the office run smoothly. 
  • Increased security: Someone who can handle sensitive information, protect data, and can be trusted to keep confidential information secure. 
  • Better employee engagement: An office manager who can unify the team and improve employee engagement
  • Productivity boost: Someone who facilitates greater productivity both in the office and the organization. They introduce systems and automation that make the company more productive and allow leaders to focus more on operating within their strengths.
  • Improved bottom line: A manager who stays on top of the budget, reduces excess spending, and helps the organization become more profitable. 

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. 

Office supplies ordered in an organized fashion over a desk top
Looking to get organized? Here are some starting tips.
Image source: Hoppier

In this article, we’ll share tips, tools, and tricks to help you: 

  • Become a better, more efficient office manager
  • Multitask--while improving and maintaining high productivity
  • Focus on self-care while still taking care of your team

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.

Part 1: Set Yourself Up With The Right Tools

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.

One robot handing a screwdriver tool to another robot
Image source: Hoppier

So how do you choose what to automate and what to do yourself? Let’s take a look:

Finding the right office management tasks to automate 

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: 

  • Make repetitive, time-consuming tasks more efficient
  • Collect, sort, and use information in straightforward, insightful ways 
  • Use time effectively, efficiently, and productively 

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: 

  1. Track: Keep track of each of your work tasks, and how long they take to complete. This will give you a clear picture of how and where you spend your time.
  2. Review: Make a list of dull, time-consuming tasks. Pay close attention to the ones that interfere with higher-priority tasks.
  3. Research: Now, research automation tools that can help you offload the most mundane, repetitive tasks.  
Cartoon professional woman looking through binoculars
Image source: Hoppier

Ideal tasks for office automation

Many time-consuming office management tasks can be easily automated to save you time and effort. These include: 

  • Employee scheduling: Scheduling software makes it easier than ever to communicate with employees, cover yourself legally, and follow best practices. Using a scheduling software allows you to utilize tools like predictive scheduling and shift scheduling, which can cut your schedule management time by 80% and reduce labor spending by 3%
  • Payroll preparation: Payroll administration means you’re handling a lot of data, often for a number of employees. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re managing spreadsheets and calculations manually. In fact, 33% of employers make payroll mistakes--which cost millions of dollars nationwide every year. Automating your payroll can cut processing costs by up to 80%
  • Travel solutions: Making travel arrangements for your team can be expensive and complicated. Costs can easily get out of control, and research is time-consuming. And, it’s easy to second-guess yourself once you’ve got everything in place. Did you find the best deals? Will everyone’s schedules line up with their transportation? Will the accommodations be up-to-par? 
  • Office snacks and supplies: Research shows that keeping snacks around the office can help keep your team happier and more engaged--which leads to higher productivity. Win-win! But, ordering the right healthy snacks requires managing multiple vendors and take up to 4 hours every week. 

Automate office ordering with Hoppier.

Which office management tasks should you not automate? 

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: 

  • Budget management: Your involvement in the office budget will differ depending on your organization. Budgeting requires human involvement and a deep understanding of the company. You add value to the organization when you can devote time and understanding to managing its budget.
  • Managing complaints and in-office issues: Automating complaints can complicate a difficult situation further. And, there are currently no automation tools that can effectively handle a complaint, interpersonal conflict, or an organizational problem. Instead, you need to leverage active listening, employee care, and investigation to resolve issues quickly and effectively. Your presence can help complaints from escalating--and may even help them disappear quickly. 
  • Internal event planning: Internal events, such as office parties and company picnics, are a valuable way to boost employee morale and engagement. There aren’t currently any available solutions for automating event planning. But if you cut corners and don’t spend time on internal events, morale, engagement, and collaboration will suffer. 
  • Task delegation: Without you, it would be impossible to effectively delegate tasks. Your management skills help you delegate the appropriate tasks to the right people without compromising outcomes. So rather than trying to automate this process, you need to actively oversee it. 
robot with a sad face and a digital tear run running down their face
Image source: Giphy

Get the right office management software

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.

Office communication tools Chatter, Slack, and Microsoft teams logos compared against each other
Compare the best communications tools and find the right one for your team here.

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: 

  • The ability to assign, describe, and manage tasks (not just to-do lists) so you can delegate more efficiently
  • Intuitive, simple, easy-to-use interface
  • The ability to sync between different devices and among multiple users on the team
  • Time tracking and recording if needed (for billing and payroll purposes)
  • Reporting functionality 
  • The ability to share and capture files and images 
  • Simple and easy commenting tools so your team can share instructions and ideas

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.

female office manager in red dress holding gold coins that she is responsible for managing
Image source: Sharon McCutcheon

4. Payroll 

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:

  • Gusto: Gusto is a great option for small businesses. Designed and supported by HR experts, Gusto is a central location for all your payroll needs. You can take care of benefits, time tracking, compliance and more. 
  • Payslip: Payslip is a global payroll tool that syncs with all payroll providers. It’s perfect for its reporting function, helping you to manage the payroll task strategically. The automated workflow management tool, combined with push notifications and alerts, will keep you on track. Even better, employee self-service tool makes it easier for employees to take some responsibility for themselves.
  • ShieldGeo: ShieldGeo makes complicated international payroll, tax, and compliance much easier. It’s designed for companies with a global workforce. ShieldGeo also supports businesses with immigration and work permit issues, simplifying international payroll tremendously.
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Other office management software 

What other tasks might you be able to automate? There are other fantastic tools available for very specific purposes.

Employee scheduling 

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: 

  • Shiftnote: Shiftnote simplifies scheduling centralization. It’s an employee scheduling software and manager logbook that shortens the time it takes to manage difficult scheduling tasks. It’s equipped with team messaging, which helps ensure accountability and open communication. Shiftnote is 75% faster than old-school scheduling methods, and offers a 30-day free trial
  • WhenIWork: WhenIWork is compatible with both desktop and mobile, and comes with a free employee time clock app. You’ll also be able to communicate with your team and see when an employee has viewed their schedule. 
  • Jobber: Jobber is a fantastic tool for field-based employees. Beyond scheduling, it can help crews manage tasks such as quoting and invoicing. It’s most accurate to describe Jobber as a complete CRM tool.
Hoppy turned around pointing at a scheduled event on a calendar

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

Hoppy traveling on a plane through the clouds for business
Learn the ins and outs of managing business travel 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: 

  • Hoppier: Hoppier automates office snack and supply orders. We make routine orders simple--and, you can easily customize and make changes to your orders. Items are delivered directly to your office, and that’s that! Even better, you’ll save money in the process. It’s a win-win for your bottom-line and your efficiency.

Want some inspiration? Take a look at our favorite vegan snack options here.

Part 2: Take Care Of Your Mental And Physical Health

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? 

Hoppy anxiously sitting by their desk unsure of how they will manage the office work
Read more on the best stress management practices here.

1. Join an online community 

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. 

  • International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP): IAAP connects office management professionals across the globe and offers networking events, too. There are a number of benefits from joining IAAP. Our favorite? You can join “Connections & Coffee” events where you can meet others in person.
  • OfficeNinjas: OfficeNinjas offers local networking events where administrative professionals (including office managers) can connect with one another. OfficeNinjas was designed with fun and providing resources in mind.
  • Uncommon Practices: Uncommon Practices’ Office Staff Support Group is a subscription-based group that connects on the second Thursday of each month. You can submit questions ahead of time, and recordings are provided if you can’t meet in real-time. Private support is also available.
  • Facebook Office Managers and Supervisor Support Group: With well over 2000 members and roughly two new posts a week, this Facebook Group is a great network for staying in touch with other office managers--and venting when the going gets tough.

2. Indulge in humor

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. 

Buzzfeed and Socialtalent are a great place to find some hilarious office management memes.

3. Learn how to disconnect from work and get your work-life balance in order

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: 

  • Delegate: Handoff what you can. Part of being an effective office manager is delegating to others, then overseeing their work. Build teams you can trust, then give them the chance to do what you ask.
  • Prioritize: Make time every morning to establish your priorities for the day and week ahead. Writing in a bullet journal or making a to-do list are great ways to do this.
  • Ditch procrastination: Create an environment where you can focus at work, and don’t put off tasks you need to take care of. It’s easy for office managers to get distracted due to the multiple demands on your time, then end up having to work long hours at the end of the day. If you need to, remove yourself from the center of activity and put your attention back where it needs to be. 
  • Be calm: Mindfulness is so valuable for our wellbeing. In fact, practicing mindfulness has been shown to benefit both mental and physical health--including lowering blood pressure and reducing symptoms of depression. Mindfulness also boosts focus, attention, self-confidence, and resilience--all essential elements that help you perform well under stress. 
  • Make time: Be sure you’re making plenty of time outside of work for doing the things you love. These include hobbies, socializing, exercise, and family time. 
  • Set boundaries: Decide where your limits are, then reinforce them. Prioritize your time off work, keeping in mind that quality time off translates to quality time on the job. Doing simple things like not checking your email constantly can work wonders. 

If you want more science-backed evidence for a healthy work-life balance, take a look at this infographic by Entrepreneur

a white Kitten with black spots lying on his back in a window sill looking very relaxed
Image source: reddit.com

4. Deal with work-based anxiety

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: 

  • Learn the symptoms of stress. Stress looks different in different people. First, learn to recognize your own--then, look out for your team. Symptoms of stress may include anxiety, irritability, disinterest, racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating or restlessness.
  • Learn to recognize triggers. What triggers your most intense stress responses? If you need help pinpointing triggers, keep a journal. You can also talk to a trusted friend or counselor. This can help you identify your triggers, then prepare to deal with them in a healthier way when they come up.
  • Practice self-care. Get plenty of sleep, exercise daily, practice mindfulness, take regular breaks, and eat healthy food. If your employer offers health care services and a gym membership, take advantage of them. 
  • Don’t forget to talk. If you’re getting overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, talk to someone you trust. This could be a trusted coworker, a member of an office management networking group, or a counselor. 

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.

hoppy and friends celebrating finishing work by hi-fiving  and jumping

Part 3: Invest In Your Professional Growth

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. 

6 books about office management topics leaning against each other on a shelf
Choose an online course to sign up for here.

Administration

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.

Accounting and finance 

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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Project management 

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. 

Business relationship management 

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.

Communication skills

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: 

  • Verbal communication: face-to-face and phone conversations
  • Written communication: email, instant messenger, and letters
  • Nonverbal communication: listening and body language

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.

Two women on swings in a park outside facing each other while talking
Image source: Bewakoof Official

Organization skills

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. 

Part 4: Create An Amazing Company Culture 

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: 

1. Drive employee wellness

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

Cartoon character hitting junk food with a vegetable to protect their health
Leave junk food in 2019.
Image source: Giphy

Other benefits of an employee wellness program include: 

  • Reduced absenteeism: Due to higher job satisfaction, fewer people miss work.
  • Reduced healthcare costs: Companies with a great wellness program spend less on healthcare. In its first four years, for example, Johnson & Johnson saved $38 million.   
  • Improved engagement: Wellness programs and employee engagement are closely linked. In fact, the majority of employees in workplaces with strong wellness programs feel motivated to do their best work. There is a strong link between wellness programs and employee engagement. 
  • Increased productivity: Research has shown that healthier employees are more productive
  • Increased staff retention: Research by the American Psychological Association shows that employee retention is higher in companies that have a strong employee wellness program. 
  • Easier recruitment: When your organization has a great wellness program, that contributes to your culture and brand. When your employer brand is strong, it’s easier to attract and keep talented employees.  

How to build an employee wellness program 

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.

A woman standing in the library flipping through pages of a book on office management
Image source: tenor.com

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

Beyond your wellness program

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.

Cartoon employees participating in a workplace wellness day by doing yoga on their desks
Image source: Deanna Pai

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. 

2. Prioritize employee engagement

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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3. Encourage social links

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!).

4. Have more fun

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: 

  • The office environment itself: Do you have plants in the office? Comfortable, attractive furniture? Plenty of natural light? 
  • Bonus downtime: Occasionally, cut a Friday short for a relaxing or fun office activity.
  • Low-cost, quick ideas: Maybe casual Fridays are long overdue, or perhaps it’s time for a company picnic or lunch. You could also shake things up by arranging a workplace breakfast for the team.
  • Go animal-friendly: Arrange a day when your team can bring a pet to work--or, just go all in and make your office pet-friendly all the time! Petting a dog during your workday can actually help boost coworker interaction and reduce stress, so we say go for it if you can!  

An office dog sitting at the head of a team meeting with a smile on his face
Image source: Drew Hays
  • Get physical: Fun activities--especially exercise-oriented--can help boost fitness and raise endorphins. Heading to the Escape Room with teh team could be a fun challenge for your bodies and minds. If you need more ideas for fun on- and off-site activities, check out these and these
  • Use social media: Even if you have a remote team, you can still find ways to have fun together. Social media can help out with that, in addition to chat tools like Slack. Have fun participating in social media challenges like a book reading challenge or the “mannequin challenge”. Common experiences encourage a sharing culture and help the team feel closer, even if they’re not in the same office.

5. Promote and facilitate collaboration

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.

Get ready to have fun, because building company culture is one of the best parts of your role. You get to plan events, office retreats, decor, parties, and even coordinate travel. 

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.

6. Invest in the working environment 

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.

How to make a comfortable and inspiring office environment

You can incorporate many factors to help cultivate positivity, comfort, and inspiration in your office. These include: 

  • Furniture: Functional, beautiful furniture that’s ergonomic in nature is always a win. Productivity increases with better furniture. 
  • Flexibility: Create spaces in the office that function as an alternative to standard cubicles and break rooms. Maybe you create a comfy seating area for brainstorming and informal meetings, or an area where team members can stand while they work. 
  • Snacks: Keep a selection of healthy snacks around so your team will always have nourishing food within reach. 
  • Organization: A clean, organized office helps reduce mistakes, clear the mind, boost time management, and improve focus. Organization guru Marie Kondo offers great advice for workspaces, and suggests that you use digital storage to reduce paper clutter, for example. 
  • Personalization: Your employees will feel more comfortable, at ease, and invested if their workspaces reflect who they are. Encourage them to personalize their space.
  • Lighting: Lighting makes a big difference, especially in a space where you spend a lot of time. Make sure your team is getting plenty of natural light. Use artificial light strategically and sparingly if possible.
  • Temperature: It can be tough to keep everyone happy with the office temperature. Providing heaters or fans could help team members regulate their own work areas. Warm temperatures tend to decrease productivity, so keep that in mind.
  • Break times: It’s unhealthy to sit for long periods of time. Encourage your team to take breaks. It’s not legally required to offer rest breaks, but it’s good practice. Breaks help your team stay engaged and productive. More than that, offering break times shows your team that you trust them to manage their time--which, in turn, builds a good relationship. If you’re able, set up table football or ping-pong at the office to encourage physical breaks.
A comfortable and cozy office space with a couch and self with old vintage cameras
Image source: GQ.com

7. Employee recognition and appreciation

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: 

  • Use social media: When a team member crushes a goal or achieves something big, shout out at them via social.
  • Celebrate birthdays: Bring in a fruit basket or cake to celebrate employees’ birthdays. This is a great opportunity for team members to socialize and celebrate each other.
  • Cheers from peers: Encourage team members to highlight when a team member is doing a great job. Recognition and praise go a long way toward boosting morale! 
  • Trophies and awards: Team members love awards! Create a reward system internal to your office, complete with trophies and certificates. You could honor an employee of the month, for example.
  • Reward teams: Appreciate and reward teams in your office. You can create a little friendly competition between teams during office activities, too.
  • Personalized rewards: Skip the generic rewards and offer things your employees will remember. You could create a range of prizes to choose from, or go all-in and personalize each one. 
  • Gratitude: Take the time to tell your team thank you. Saying thank you speaks volumes. 
  • Treats: Offering treats to your team, like some of their favorite snacks, can help you show gratitude. 
  • Events and parties: Organizing fun on- and off-site parties and events is another fantastic way to say thanks to your crew.
  • Celebrate anniversaries: When an employee celebrates a work anniversary, celebrate with them! Loyalty and longevity are rarer these days. Award long-serving employees with anniversary celebrations. 
  • Education and training: When you invest in your team’s professional development, they feel valued. Provide ongoing education for the employees who want to keep learning.
  • Be creative: How can you help your team members do their jobs better? Help them tackle the problems they face. Maybe you arrange for them to work from home a few days a week, for example. 
  • Foster mentoring: Match experienced, longstanding employees with younger or less experienced staff for mentoring to show your interest in both.
  • Branded gear: Give your team high-quality, branded swag--sure, they’ll be advertising the company, but they’ll also feel valued.
  • Hold back: Don’t micromanage your team. Give them freedom, trust, and room to breathe, and they’ll go above and beyond for the team.

Final Thoughts 

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.

Looking for more great tips for how to find success in an office management position? Subscribe to our blog so you never miss a post! 

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