Hana Gray details the office management tasks that are now part of an administrative professional’s daily life
Across organisations all over the world, office, facilities and administration professionals have risen to the many challenges presented by this global crisis. They’ve been organising, adapting, learning, leading, keeping calm and collected to carry on and to do what had to be done to keep their offices and organisations running.
Here are some of the new roles that office managers have been forced to embrace quickly and, in most cases, remotely, away from their managers, teams and office spaces.
1. Crisis and change management specialist
Most office managers have heard of a business continuity plan, some may have even been involved in devising their business’s, however, not many were expecting to be the person looked upon to drive what can only be known as a disaster recovery incident, and to consequently process all the necessary means to get employees, contractors and clients effectively working together remotely.
2. Communication specialist
Similarly, when it comes to organisational communication, with so many overnight changes effecting processes, systems and most of all people, communicating change has become a different game, and the need to be immediate, transparent and crystal clear is greater than ever.
3. Pandemic, specifically COVID-19, specialist
“Unprecedented” has probably been the term most widely used in context of COVID-19. With requirements such as social distancing, hand washing and wearing facemasks to name a few, and with new legislations coming up nearly daily, it is imperative to remain current.
Whether it is learning about the disease and putting infection-preventing measures in place or staying on top of government announcements and changes in legislation (e.g. employment law), COVID-19 certainly comes with its very own specific challenges for those in the office management profession.
4. Working from home specialist
With entire workforces having to be rapidly moved out of the shared workspace and office building to their homes, the task of setting up employees to work from home has most definitely taken on a different scale – even with the help of teams and experts.
Moving, couriering or buying equipment, setting up and flicking the switch in technology to enable employees to work remotely, and facilitating meetings online in what are undoubtedly times of the highest demand on IT, engineers, equipment suppliers and service providers, most certainly is not for the faint hearted!
5. Working in the office specialist
Although general directives have been to work from home whenever possible, there are always exceptions to the rules, and with responsibilities including overseeing essential building facilities, security and maintenance, this will have been especially true for office and facilities managers and some of their contractors such as cleaners or security guards. To protect each one of those individuals, most health and safety policies and many workplace arrangements and procedures will have had to have been reviewed and updated.
6. Return to work and to normality specialist
Preparing offices for the safe return of human beings to shared working spaces and amenities, with changes to furniture arrangements, equipment sharing, cleaning regimes, one-way systems, risk assessments or shift patterns; all over the world it will be office and facilities managers leading the efforts to return office environments and life to normal, albeit the ‘new normal’.
7. Mentor and leadership specialist
Office and administrative professionals have central roles and act as first points of contact for all stakeholders, and not uncommonly also as sounding boards for frustrated, struggling or worried employees, which can be demanding enough in normal and office-based circumstances. And in continuing to be the glue that holds all together in times of the Coronavirus when faced with unprecedented challenges nearly on a daily basis, office managers have most certainly proven that they are true leaders and motivators within a business.
Moving forward, office managers will clearly play crucial roles in lessons learned exercises and future planning within their organisations, and so, if there ever was any doubt or question about their contributions to organisations – in terms of operations, staff morale and the overall bottom line – that value has become more obvious than ever. The time has come to not just recognise that (more), but to also deliberately invest in their support and development.