Managing an office is more than just finding effective uses of space and keeping the status quo. It is also about keeping people happy, productive, and feeling valued in their position.
As you can imagine, reaching this perfect balance can be tricky and takes a lot of focus and practice. If you want to be an effective office manager, you can turn your attention to things like establishing procedures, keeping open communication, and making sure your office is organized, among other things.
You can even do things to make the business itself more profitable, such as implementing green initiatives to cut down on monthly utility costs. Here are some practical tips that will help you in your role as an office manager:
1. Office Managers Must Keep Open Communication
Office managers are the liaisons between employees and leadership, so making sure you are available when someone needs you is a must.
Setting up communication channels can be as easy and giving your email address to every new hire, or creating an anonymous tip line for employees.
The key is to keep whatever method of communication you use organized and clear so you don’t miss any messages from your staff. If you prefer email, make sure you check your inbox at least once a day and keep it organized so no complaints or questions fall through the cracks.
You don’t just have to be on the receiving end of communication, though. In fact, giving employees feedback is a great way to motivate them and keep them moving in the right direction.
Maybe someone suggested your office start using a solar power system to cut down on electricity costs, and your boss loved the idea. You could thank that employee for their input and let them know the company will take up their great suggestion. This lets the person know they were heard and appreciated, which can often boost job satisfaction.
2. Organize Your Office
Everything has a place and everything in its place can go a long way in an office setting, especially if you are in an industry heavy on paperwork or official filing. The best place to start when organizing your office is your own desk.
If you have your own organizational system, you can set an example for other employees or even implement your strategies company-wide. You can use things like file folders, color coding, or stacking boxes for loose papers to keep everything where you can easily find it.
An often overlooked aspect of organizing your workplace is reminders. Everyone needs a helpful poke every now and then to make sure they are staying on track with their work, but putting that responsibility on another person can just back up work even further.
Consider implementing content management software or other programs that can easily track big projects and automate reminders for your employees. Programs like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp are among some of the most popular systems that can make keeping track of work much easier than a host of sticky notes on your computer monitor.
3. Make the Days Predictable
As boring as routine sounds to some people, for businesses it is the lifeblood of a productive workday. As an office manager, you want to establish a variety of routines so employees always know what is expected of them and what they should be doing.
Remember, though, that each team might need a different routine. For example, the marketing team might start their day with a meeting to discuss goals and trends, but the accounting team might need to start the day assessing the previous day’s sales and figures.
Be sure to take into account each department’s unique needs and activities so you can create a routine that fits their function.
Along with creating routines is defining the function of each position. If you have three people trying to do the same job, you can probably see a number of problems that might arise. When hiring people or transitioning employees between roles, be sure you clearly state the tasks that come with their position.
Every role in your company should have a detailed job description that is shared with that employee so there is no confusion about what is expected of them. This helps to make sure every facet of your business is handled by someone and gives people a small amount of specialization in their jobs.
4. Effectively Utilize Your Space
Depending on the scope of your role as office manager, you might be in charge of creating a comprehensive office layout in addition to your role with employees. In this case, you want to make sure you are using your space effectively to create a happier, more productive atmosphere.
Overall, you want to make sure you have at least these four areas in your office:
- Large conference room
- Small meeting room
- Informal meeting room
- Teleconference meeting room
The large conference room is ideal for board meetings and seminars, while the smaller room is better for team meetings or small groups. An informal meeting room can be used as a brainstorming space, so it is nice to include a smartboard or whiteboard in that space.
Finally, you also will need at least one area where you can set up audio, visual, or telephone equipment for virtual conference calls.
As for the workspace, there are plenty of different layouts you can use to help your employees be productive. For some businesses, it might make sense to incorporate an open floor plan so different departments and task forces can easily collaborate and communicate.
In other industries, cubicles or separate offices might work better to help keep people focused on complex tasks and projects.
5. Develop Your Business Skills As An Office Manager
Running an office requires a certain amount of business savvy. Whether you are new to the office manager role or have been managing for years, it is a good idea to frequently brush up on your skills or knowledge.
One thing every office manager needs to know is how to negotiate. It might be with an employee to determine their salary, with a vendor to secure profits, or with a client to find the best solution to their problem. Knowing how to negotiate can enhance your value at a company and help you to help your company succeed.
There is also tons of information out there about management techniques, financial strategies, and recruitment plans. All of these areas are pillars of an office manager’s job, so you should be comfortable discussing and analyzing these topics within your business.
As the world and economy change, so do ways to manage the budget and keep a company financially solvent. Management techniques can vary from employee to employee or shift completely when your company starts moving in new directions. You need to be aware of what your options are so you can implement the best possible strategies in your office.
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have a little legal know-how under your belt. When you are brushing up on the latest literature regarding management duties, check out some of the law journals as well. You might find helpful information about hiring and firing, human resource laws, and terms for leaves of absence.
6. Analyze Your Environment
When you are running around trying to keep the ship afloat, you can get lost in your own routines. You might come in every day and do the same thing down to the minute, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the most efficient office.
Every now and then, it is helpful to take some time to analyze your office and how your employees are working. Are the current methods effective? Are people being as productive as possible? A good way to get a jump on this issue to pop into some of your teams’ weekly meetings.
In a meeting, you can ask for feedback from employees about areas they think need change. This is a simple way to ensure you are taking into account the feelings and needs of your employees. The morning meeting is also a forum for you to pitch your ideas or notify staff of changes. It gives you the opportunity to set the tone for how the staff should react to a change and answer any initial questions people might have.
You might even find yourself in a position where you have to analyze the physical location of your office. Especially if you are working at a small company or a start-up, once the business starts booming, your needs might change.
Maybe you need to hire more staff, but have no room to add more people to your current space. Maybe you’ve been giving everyone an office and wasting valuable floor space in another part of the building. Although moving and reorganizing your space can be a major task, don’t be afraid to take the leap if you think it is the best move for your business.
Being an effective office manager requires an array of skills and business knowledge. You should focus on keeping open communication with your employees and setting the standard of organization in the office. You also want to make sure you establish a predictable routine, effectively use your workspaces, and stay up to date on things like management techniques and budgeting.
Finally, analyzing your environment periodically can also help you to keep an edge on the competition and continue growing your business.
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Paisley Hansen is a mother of three and a small business owner. She spends her time caring for her children and taking her business to the next level. When she’s not busy working or taking care of her kids, you can find her at the gym or curl up with a good book.