Office learning

Office Management: What You Should and Shouldn't Automate (Including the Best Tools to Use)

Office management can be chaotic at times. Keep reading to find out what office tasks automation can take off your plate and which ones require a human touch.

Ana Gotter

Everywhere you look, you can find new tools and resources promising to automate every process under the sun.

The rising age of automation is undeniably appealing to many office managers, who all have complex and sometimes even chaotic jobs. With so many tasks and responsibilities on their plates, that instantaneous hand-off starts looking incredibly appealing. 

There are some office management tasks that automation is easily a solid choice for, but that’s not the case with everything. When it comes to certain responsibilities, you’ll want to stick to doing things manually and staying as far away from automation as possible. 

So what should be automated for office managers and what shouldn’t? Let’s take a look. 


What You Should Automate 

When you’re deciding what you should and shouldn’t automate, there are a few factors you should consider.

Tasks that meet the following criteria are typically safe to set on some level of auto-pilot:

  • A consistent personal touch isn’t needed
  • You can rely on a service or tool to handle what it’s tackling
  • There isn’t a wide degree of variance based on changing factors on a regular basis that would affect the automation 

Here are four things you can start automating right away...

1. Office Snacks & Supplies 

Office snacks and supplies may sound like something that office managers need to diligently pick out themselves, but in reality a set-it-and-forget it approach is the way to go here… as long as you have a reliable service. 

Hoppier, for example, offers subscriptions for healthy, delicious snacks that can be tailored to the specific dietary needs in your office. You can set your criteria, let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll take care of the rest. Similarly, you can order office supplies through our company, too. Just calculate how often you’ll need your next batch, what you’ll need and in what quantities, and sign up! 

Your time is better spent on tasks other than picking out pens for the office or trying to decide what chips the team members may want, so automate snack delivery and take it off your plate (pun intended). 


2. Employee Scheduling 

Employee scheduling can be an office manager’s most dreaded task, especially with team members bombarding you with days-off or shift-change requests. Trying to come up with a schedule everyone likes can feel like an unpleasant, high-stakes version of tetris, so automation is your best bet.


Automating employee scheduling with WhenIWork to help office management staff
Image source: WhenIWork 


There are great employee scheduling tools available that let you input your team members’ availability and how many hours per week they can work, and then automatically generate the schedule for you. You can tweak it manually as necessary, but tweaking is much easier than designing it all from scratch.

Several tools to consider include:


3. Payroll Preparation  

Payroll preparation is another common task for office managers, and the sheer regularity makes it easy to streamline things with the right tools.

This is a good option for automation, too, because an employee’s paycheck is one area where you really don’t want to risk human error. 

Some of the tools available can automate with your employee scheduling software and instantly create payroll information based on time cards for hourly workers, or established salaries. 


Automating payroll with Payroll.Intuit to help office management staff
Image source: Payroll.Intuit 


Choosing a reliable payroll preparation tool is important, and the following options all fit that bill:

4. Identifying Best Travel Solutions 

If someone in the office will be traveling, it’s often on the office manager to get it all sorted out. This can mean finding hotels, flights, transportation, and possibly even entertainment that can keep your team members happy without breaking the budget. And then if things change at the last minute, you need to catch up fast. That’s no easy task.

Vacation-planning sites like Kayak can make the booking portion of the process easy, helping you find hotels and transportation all at once. They’ll even pull from Expedia and Travelocity, giving you all the data in one place. 


Kayak travel booking website that can help office management staff
Image source: Kayak 


Once you have your agenda, you don’t want to struggle to keep up with it. Tools like TripIt can help automate this part, too; just important your travel details no matter how you booked it, and you can share the agenda with your team and be alerted the second something changes. Don’t worry; if a flight is delayed or changes, you’ll know right away. 

What Office Management Tasks You Shouldn’t Automate: 

At this point of the post, it likely seems like there’s nothing automation can’t do.

Unfortunately for all of us, that’s just not the case. There are going to be some jobs you’ll want to tackle directly, starting with budget management. 

1. Budget Management 

There are some truly incredible budget tools out there, but budgeting can be tricky. While some aspects of bookkeeping can definitely be automated, budget planning and oversight is something you’ll want to at least review manually. 

Office budgets, after all, often fluctuate month to month even more than a personal income might. Different employees with unique pay rates are working different hours, sales go up and down, and certain costs will ebb and flow. This is all before you even factor in things like investing in scaling your business and all of the changes that may come with that.

When you’re evaluating your business’s financial future, get hands on, and use tools to make your job easier to review the details instead of trying to automate it entirely. 

2. Managing Complaints & In-Office Issues 

In plenty of cases, employees will turn to the office administrator if they have an issue within the company. It can be everything from interpersonal to feeling like they don’t have the technological support they need to do their job. 

It goes without saying that personal problems and employee complaints should always be handled by a caring, empathetic person. No computer program can generate unique solutions for every problem, after all, so managing office complaints will be one task that gets to stay just for you. 

3. Internal Event Planning 

Are you throwing a Christmas party, or bringing an agency in to the office for specialized, in-person training? Internal event planning is almost always on the shoulders of the office manager, and there’s just no way to automate this particular task and have it done well. 


4. Task Delegation 

Office managers are typically the ones doling out tasks to other team members, and even though you can fall back on employee scheduling software, specific task delegation should typically be done personally. 

Whenever possible, it’s best to consider your individual team members’ strengths and preferences, and then divide up tasks based on this information alongside fairness. It may even make sense, for example, to hand out leads to specific salespeople based on their experience level and the personality of the leads in question. This is something that automation just can’t do for you. 


Conclusion 

Office management consists of an enormous number of tasks to keep up with, so automation can be your best friend as long as you’re using it correctly. It’s essential to know the difference between what should and shouldn’t be automated in order to save time and energy for the things you already know you’ll need to be hands-on with yourself. This will improve your day and ultimately help the entire office run smoother. Who wouldn’t want that?

Ready to start your path on automation? Check out Hoppier’s office supplies and snack subscriptions here