Rather than ask “what do office managers do”, the question should really be: “what don’t they do?” But, in the spirit of celebrating and acknowledging the work that office managers do every day and in a crisis, let’s discuss this dynamic role and its importance in the workplace.
On a daily basis, they oversee a diverse and complicated set of tasks, people, and projects. They’re no strangers to wearing multiple hats, from performing accounting duties, mandating HR policies and managing the office space to organizing company culture events.
Additionally, in our current COVID-19 landscape, the role of the office manager is ever-changing in supporting workers remotely. With every new situation, task or project, these superhumans must adapt and problem-solve on the fly.
What do office managers do—both on a daily basis and in a health crisis
The role of office managers in a public health pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time of uncertainty. For office managers, navigating rapid changes and pivoting processes, tasks, modes of communication and workspaces is no small feat.
For offices that are required to be open, office managers are in charge of the health and hygiene of everyone in the office. They are tasked with communicating updates and policies in real-time—and enforcing them.
For companies that are working remotely, their role stretches beyond the office and into the digital realm. Office managers are required to set up virtual communication systems to support remote employees. Mail may be re-routed to their home where it can then be sorted and redistributed.
Other daily activities that have been shifted include virtually onboarding new employees, sending out communications and updates, and, most importantly maintaining office culture remotely. For example, many office managers hold organized video hangouts and virtual yoga classes to maintain employee morale and wellness.
The role of office managers on a regular daily basis
How smoothly an office functions on a daily basis can be attributed to the office manager and administration staff. They are in charge of daily operations in the office space, events, resources and people.
When it comes to office spaces, they organize everything from an employee’s physical surroundings (including the building, the room and its temperature, comfort and light) to their desk, computer and even applications within. Beyond each individual’s space, office managers ensure that shared spaces (kitchens, gyms, foyers and outdoor spaces) are clean, stocked, on-brand and functional. Any office improvements, moves or maintenance required are either done or managed by them.
They’re also often involved in accounting tasks, such as invoices, contracts, budgets, and expense reports for team members and projects. They also have a role in human resources, organizing and booking meetings, ordering office supplies and onboarding and offboarding employees.
On top of all of this, office managers are even in charge of employee’s health, happiness and wellness. For example, they organize office catering for breakfasts, lunches, meetings, snacks, overtime meals and Happy Hour events to boost company culture. They remember every birthday and reason to celebrate. They help book meeting rooms and fix conference-call issues. They organize team building events, parties and Town Halls.
Why are office managers (with superhuman abilities) so important?
By now it should be super clear why office managers are so essential. Their responsibilities, on the other hand, are ad-hoc, ever-changing, and essential yet sometimes unclear. They also have the difficult and somewhat thankless job of managing an office—and the needs and wants of those within.
They have the power of setting, communicating and building the tone of a company’s office environment and culture. They’re often in direct communication with the executive team and relay information from the frontlines. They’re the first to know how employees are doing, happiness- and health-wise, and adjust to meet (and exceed) everyone’s needs.
Office managers deserve our praise, support and acknowledgement. Depending on your role, give yourself a pat on the back or ask how you can better support them.