While incidental, office management can involve quite challenging work, such as studying business operations and generating information that helps develop business strategies and policies.
Office Management Functions
While operational managers focus on their primary duties such as marketing strategy development, cost and quality effectiveness of production operations and human resource development policies, office managers take over the administrative routines involved in executing these. In specific terms, the work of typical offices includes the following.
- Arranging Physical Facilities: Arranging leases and maintenance contracts, furnishing offices and other spaces where work is carried out, setting up computer and network infrastructure, organising various facilities such as rest rooms, security arrangements, communication equipment and attendance recording workstations.
- Providing Support Services: These can range from taking calls and redirecting it to appropriate departments and persons to arranging meetings, making travel bookings and scheduling transport vehicles and many other day-to-day services.
- Compliance and Legal Work: All businesses have to find out which government regulations are applicable to them and comply with these. Businesses also need to ensure that the agreements they enter into with suppliers, customers, employees and banks, among others, are legally valid and not unduly burdensome. It is the office that attends to these issues.
- Human Resources: Maintaining personnel records, organising training and skills development programs, employee communications, recruitment and selection routines and employee attendance recording and payroll computations are typical office services provided to the HR manager. Additionally, it is the office manager who should focus on the ergonomics of workstations and the physical working environment that involves provision of good lighting and ventilation as well as safe workplaces.
- Management Support: The office provides needed support to develop, document and distribute plans and budgets, record performance data, generate and distribute management reports, convene discussion meetings and follow up decisions taken at the meetings.
The Modern Business Office
A functioning office requires physical space, workstations, trained persons, office supplies and efficient policies and procedures. Offices typically include both single occupant office rooms and open plan spaces where hundreds of employees might be working. There will also be conference rooms with good presentation equipment, Print/Copy/Fax stations, rest areas and toilets, and even areas for lunch breaks and informal get togethers.
Modern workstations will include work desks, computer terminals, storage facilities, writing tops and other essential tools. Office supplies include such things as pens/pencils, stationery, paper clips and equipment like punches and staplers.
Office Manager Job Description
The following requirements of effective functioning of an office also outline the job description of a good office manager:
- Proper procedures must be established for all types of work, such as receiving communications and documents, forwarding and distributing these, and handling minor and major disasters such as a computer system crash.
- All tasks must be made the specific responsibility of some person so that no task will be left ‘orphaned’ with nobody being responsible for it.
- Records must be kept up-to-date and compliant with statutory regulations, and all tasks must be completed in time without being postponed. To ensure these results, proper policies must be established and their implementation should be audited.
- The practice of planning and scheduling all work should be the accepted culture that is consciously developed among the staff by the office manager.
- Work that cannot be competently executed with available staff and facilities should be identified and outsourced to competent persons or agencies.
- Office administration also involves checking that working conditions are such as to aid productivity and teamwork. A conscious effort should be made to minimize the impact of personality conflicts on work performance.
An office manager often carries the title of administrative manager, and this title is a good description of the functions expected of the person. Other titles include executive assistant and secretary, which also emphasise the support role of the office to operating managers.
Office management is essentially a support function that attends to the administrative routines and legal issues invariably involved in running any business. Office managers, who might carry different titles such as company secretary, accountant, executive assistant and other, similar titles, relieve the operating business managers of these routines.