Whether it’s ordering supplies, troubleshooting issues, or coordinating office activities for the whole team, the demands on office managers time and expertise are endless!
You’re the linchpin that holds everything together, the one who keeps the wheels turning and the lights on, the professional juggler of priorities. There’s a reason why versatility has been rated the most important skill for office managers to have.
It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed in this role, but there are lots of tricks and tools that can make your life easier. Here are 10 strategies to help you get through that never-ending to-do list.
If 10 top tips aren’t enough, check out the Wizards of Ops Book of Spells, a free e-book where you can find even more tools to help you bring office magic to life.
Prioritise and avoid distractions
With so many requests flooding your inbox, it can be difficult to prioritise. Set an achievable daily limit of tasks – whether that’s six, 10 or more – and write the following day’s to-do list at the end of the previous day. Experts say it takes us 15 minutes to regain focus again after being distracted, so turning off desktop notifications or only checking emails at certain times of the day can also help maximise productivity. You might also find it helpful to introduce an inbound ticketing system so your to-do list isn’t constantly hijacked by new requests.
Empower employees by delegating
It’s impossible for one person to do everything, although you might feel that’s what’s being asked of you sometimes! Delegating tasks, particularly when it comes to complicated jobs, will free you up to focus on the wider picture, and provide valuable upskilling opportunities for other members of the team. Make sure you’re clear about who you’re making responsible for what (to that person as well as the broader organisation), outline your expectations, and be available for any questions. While delegation can be a challenge for the perfectionists among us, setting clear goals and deadlines can make a big difference.
Optimise space and routines
Take a look around the office. Are you happy with how the space is being used? Are there obstacles people have to detour around? Maximising space, lighting and efficiencies help ensure an office is a happy, effective place to work. Think about the procedures you have in place – could those routines be improved? Are your emergency procedures clear, so that everyone knows who to call and what to do (or not do!) when something goes wrong?
Office managers are one of the few people who work with employees at every level and in every department. Having effective communication skills and being a good listener is essential. Think about your internal communications – do staff feel well informed and ‘in the loop’? Are you seen as a supportive and approachable figure? Perhaps you could suggest a regular catch up to brainstorm workable solutions to problems and boost that feeling of effective team work. And don’t forget to make time for fun. Getting to know each other outside of work has proven benefits for workplace productivity and improving office culture.
If you’re the one who ends up organising the team event (and let’s face it, it will probably be you), then we even have a blog on how to organise top-notch company socials… you can thank us later.
Use technology to streamline your work
The office manager to-do list is long but luckily there are oodles of technology solutions to help you fly through administrative tasks. Set up template emails to minimise the time spent replying to the same messages; create checklists of steps for complicated tasks (these will also be useful when delegating); and use the internal messaging app Slack to avoid losing valuable information in emails inboxes. Slack also has the benefit of lots of third party integrations. We particularly like Spoke, which uses artificial intelligence to answer frequently asked questions; Donut, which randomly pairs up two people in a company to go for coffee; or Oskar and Leo, which both regularly check in with the team to ask how they’re feeling.
Take the initiative
Think about the company’s future needs – are there certain times of the year or week or day when you are asked for the same information or to complete the same task? Is there a way to predict demand so you can stay ahead of the game? Sit down with the executive team to plan ahead for the next quarter and be mindful of longer term goals. It’s also a good idea to scan for inefficiencies within office processes and be open to implementing innovative solutions. Above all, don’t ignore problems. Be proactive about identifying issues and resolving them in the early stages.
An important part of being productive is being able to say no (or not right now. That can feel impossible when you’re the go-to person in the office. But don’t be afraid to push back on tasks, particularly if you think someone else might be able to assist. Perhaps all that’s required from you is an appropriate introduction to another member of the team.
Create a network of like-minded professionals
Colleagues can be a great source of support and information – both within your organisation and beyond. Attend relevant networking events, join membership bodies such as the Institute of Administrative Management, and seek out online communities. The Wizards of Ops group, for example, is made up of more than 250 people working in business operations all sharing thoughts, questions and advice with each other.
Make time for your own development
When we’re busy managing a jam-packed workload, the time and headspace for your own professional development can often take a backseat. But scheduling time in your calendar for your own training is essential if you’re to keep up with best practice and the skills needed to do your job well. Listen to relevant podcasts, take an online webinar course, and set up Google Alerts for your sector to stay up to date with breaking news. The best office managers never stop learning and your example will inspire the wider team to do the same.
Prefer a blog to a podcast? Here are our top picks for office managers.
If there comes a time when it all feels like it’s too much, take a moment to breathe. Step away from your computer, go for a short walk outside, stretch, and try repeating a simple mantra, such as ‘this too shall pass’. Great office managers are resilient in the face of adversity. You are a swan, calm above water but paddling furiously beneath the surface.
If you’re responsible for your office move on top of all your other responsibilities, and you’re not sure where to start, start your search on HubbleHQ or talk to one of our property experts, and they’ll do all the heavy lifting for you, so you can get on with your hundreds of other jobs.