30 Mar 2021

8 tips for being an efficient office manager

by Joan

Being an office manager is a whirlwind of planning, changing your plans, and navigating unexpected events. The position has become even more unpredictable with COVID-19 still at large.

Below are some tips and suggestions to help office managers navigate and master rough waters.

Start each week on the right foot

For the first hour of every Monday: clean out your inbox. Flag important tasks, plug them into your to-do software and delete or archive anything you don’t need.

Start with a clean slate. Once you’ve been through your emails, you’ll have a grasp on your week’s demands.

Office managers need to be able to change their plans on-the-fly. Nonetheless, you should have a solid plan at the start of each week, even if you’ll have to chisel at it throughout the week when changes arise. Preschedule your meetings, projects, and other demands on your time.

Prioritize goals and expectations

As office manager, you not only need to understand your own to-dos, but the tasks for those reporting to you too. Organizing and prioritizing projects at the start of each week will help you to know what you need to get done and who you need to follow up with.

Consider applying the Pomodoro Technique. The theory behind this technique is, by breaking your workday into 25-minute time frames separated by five-minute breaks, you train in a sense of urgency. This urgency isn’t to stress you or push you to your limit but instead counters the mindset that you have all day to work on projects… until you’re out of time. This technique “encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it.”

Use management software

Management software can do wonders against your workload, automating how you run the office.

Using a Work Operating System (Work OS) to organize your tasks can take some responsibility off your plate. Such software keeps project details in one place, helping team members stay in-the-loop as projects evolve.

Scheduling and meeting booking tools are indispensable in today’s office spaces. For example, from Microsoft Outlook you can schedule meetings and send out invitations to all participants from one window. What’s more, implementing a meeting room booking system like Joan 6 helps everyone stay up to date on meeting room agendas.

In the near future, office managers will be implementing return-to-office protocols. Hot desks will become more and more popular as companies cut back on office capacity post-COVID. Using a desk booking app can save you one big, ongoing headache.

Eliminate distractions

We all need distractions throughout the day, lest we go mad. However, thinking back to the Pomodoro technique, you can limit your distractions to five-minute intervals every twenty-five minutes, or less. As for other distractions—construction outside, the need to venture outdoors, your friend two cubicles over—plan distraction time into each day so it’s controlled and gives your mind the rest it needs to be productive.

One clever blogger suggests putting your phone in grayscale mode. The small, red, notification badge icons on apps are downright impossible to ignore. Users see these icons and, more often than not, develop an incessant urge to check their phone or tablet. Putting your mobile in grayscale mode reduces the notification’s pull on your mind.

Be innovative

While most of the tips on this list are tricks you can apply or buy without much thought, being innovative requires some effort.

Continue your education and professional development throughout your career. The best office managers stay up to date on technology, office software, best practices, and everything else that can help the workspace run smoothly. Only by keeping up on available tools can you properly navigate and innovate the office.

Enhance communication

Not much wastes time like poor communication in the workspace, especially now that many employees work from home and can’t meet face-to-face.

Consider investing in devices or programs that will aid communication within your office. If an employee needs a work phone, get them a work phone. If Slack fits your office style better than Teams, switch to Slack. If wireless headsets are what employees need to be versatile, get them wireless headsets.

In the end, if a piece of technology can make an employee even one percent more productive, it’s probably worth the investment.

Be empathetic

That’s not to say give your employees everything they ask for, but understand that they usually make requests for a reason.

It takes a lot of strength and maturity for an employee to step up and ask for a change in the office. Open up to approve or negotiate, helping the office inhabitants feel listened to and cared for.

That’s not to say give your employees everything they ask for, but understand that they usually make requests for a reason.

Be okay with saying “no”

These last two points may seem like an oxymoron. How can you be empathetic and still say no?

Employees need to know you’ll listen to them and consider their requests. However, when the request simply won’t work out, you need to be able to say no. Bantering around with an idea that won’t fly wastes your and your employee’s time.

Conclusion

Whether it’s a global pandemic or simply new technology on the market, office managers are forever learning and adapting. Even so, the core concepts on this list won’t change: stay organized, up to date, and open to communicating. Most of all, keep up with new technology, software, or features that will help take some responsibilities off of your plate.

Start by automating simple tasks such as workplace management with Joan.