What is Office Management?

Office management describes the strategies and processes involved in optimizing productivity, efficiency, and working conditions within a workplace.

The goal of office management is simple: to create and support a positive, effective working atmosphere within company offices and other workspaces. Office management takes responsibility for the work environment, ensuring that the right policies, tools, and systems are in place so that all employees can do their jobs efficiently and safely. An organized office space with clearly defined job functions helps individual employees see how their role fits into the big picture of the organization, ensuring better outcomes across the board.

Modern office managers are expected to play a more significant part in revenue generation. Gone are the days when office management dealt primarily in office supplies and thermostats; today’s office managers are involved strategically in wide-reaching company initiatives and are often responsible for pursuing their own projects designed to grow the business.

As previously stated, there are many distinct aspects of office management, and not all organizations include the same responsibilities under the title of office manager. But even among highly specialized industries, the core functions tend to remain the same. These functions include:

Space management

The most traditional responsibility associated with office management is optimizing the office space. This includes establishing a working environment conducive to high employee performance, and may also involve taking an active role in setting and promoting positive office culture.

Planning

Office managers are involved in defining goals and outcomes for the office and planning office activities. The office manager works with other leaders to map out initiatives and determine what steps are necessary to reach company objectives and how success should be measured. Office managers may also handle employee travel arrangements.

Resource management

Closely tied to planning, office resource management is responsible for ensuring that materials, equipment, personnel, and finances are all being applied effectively towards achieving company goals. Optimizing resource usage means keeping a detailed and accurate inventory of available resources and then applying those resources toward more productive functions and workflows.

Communication

Office management has the responsibility to act as a liaison between corporate leadership and office employees—facilitating effective communication and articulating needs and expectations in both directions.

Staffing

Hiring, onboarding, retaining, and even firing are all aspects of staffing in office management. This extends beyond company employees; office managers may also be involved in managing external contractors and facility staff members and are the primary points of contact for property owners and property managers of rented office spaces. Although this is especially true for small businesses, enterprise-level companies may also include some elements of staffing in office management.

IT coordination

Although IT is usually a department all its own, office management is often responsible for working with IT to ensure that the office environment has access to the right functioning technology to operate effectively. This includes coordinating with IT on software and equipment usage and optimizing support technology (such as Wi-Fi, network access, video conferencing, etc.) in the office space.

Employee management

Finally, office managers must work to ensure that the office is a safe working environment and that the correct steps have been taken to protect the employees and the company from external threats. This includes establishing and regulating office safety policies, managing security teams, handling parking arrangements, resolving employee conflicts, addressing harassment and discrimination, approving materials and tools, managing badging systems, and working with IT to establish proper data security procedures.

With so many different responsibilities falling under the umbrella of ‘office management,’ the position naturally requires a range of important technical and interpersonal skills. These include the following:

  • Organization 
  • Multitasking
  • Time management 
  • Communication ability
  • Conflict mediation
  • Strategy building
  • Employee coordination
  • Negotiation skills
  • Leadership

Every business is unique, and every working environment comes with its own advantages, challenges, and quirks. As such, the role of office management within a company and the positions involved in fulfilling various office management responsibilities cover a wide territory and may even overlap with other departments (such as Human Resources). To make matters more complex, modern office management must also be capable of handling the many administration duties associated with remote and hybrid offices.

But while each company may have its own approach, the basic duties and goals of office management positions are similar. These roles include maintaining a productive office work environment, supervising and organizing the work of administrative staff, outfitting employees with the right equipment, preparing and submitting reports, and managing office budgets, and may also involve employee hiring, training, and promotion.

Variations on traditional office management positions include:

Virtual office manager

Not every business has the resources to invest in bringing in an office manager full-time. In these cases, the company may instead choose to outsource to a part-time office manager. These ‘virtual’ office managers typically operate remotely and may fulfill office management responsibilities for multiple clients. At the same time, the term ‘virtual office management’ sometimes refers to an office manager over remote and hybrid office environments where a company’s employees do not all work from the same location.

Corporate office manager

A corporate office manager works in the central office of a company that owns several other offices. This person, often given the title of ‘District Manager,’ coordinates with the ‘branch managers’ over satellite offices. Corporate office managers take the lead in coordinating with the leadership of these other offices. While some of the duties may be like those of an office manager who works directly for the company’s clients, the corporate office manager tends to work behind the scenes to support branch offices in reaching their goals. This may involve regularly traveling between branch locations to oversee branch managers.

Getting the most out of available resources

Every resource has a cost and a value. From equipment, to finances, to the employees themselves, getting the most out of these resources means understanding what is available and how best to apply it to ensure that its value to the business outpaces its cost.

Understanding and conveying purpose

In the day-to-day grind of processes and workflows it can be easy to lose sight of big-picture objectives. Office managers are responsible for keeping their eyes on the prize—knowing the purpose behind the work and conveying that purpose in a way that employees can understand and appreciate.

Optimizing processes within the office environment

Inefficiency is the enemy of productivity. Office management must always be conscious of the current processes occurring within the office and ready to identify and refine inefficiencies to ensure a more streamlined way of doing things.

Office management is a hugely important concept, impacting everything from the effectiveness of strategic planning to the safety and comfort of the employees themselves. To ensure that office management is correctly supporting business objectives, consider the following tips:

Always rely on the data

Every decision in office management should be backed up by reliable data. Determine what questions need to be answered and which metrics may be measured to provide actionable insight into processes, productivity, and other factors. With the right data, office managers will have the advantage of building their decisions on facts, rather than opinions of guesswork.

Graphic outlining the types of employee benefits

Always rely on the data

Every decision in office management should be backed up by reliable data. Determine what questions need to be answered and which metrics may be measured to provide actionable insight into processes, productivity, and other factors. With the right data, office managers will have the advantage of building their decisions on facts, rather than opinions of guesswork.

Make communication a top priority

Without effective communication, collaboration is not possible. Employees need to know what is expected of them, how they are to be evaluated, and what resources are available. Employers need to know what pain points their employees are experiencing and what suggestions they may have to improve the business. Finely, individuals, teams, and departments must have unrestricted communication so that they may coordinate their work on shared projects, brainstorm solutions, and resolve issues quickly and without duplicating effort. Simply put, it is the office manager’s responsibility to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

Invest in the right tools

Digital tools have expanded the capabilities of modern offices. But not every digital solution is the right fit for every circumstance or company. Office managers must be able to research, compare, evaluate, and make decisions on what digital solutions are worth investing in to help their employees perform better. Typically, this means working closely with IT departments, though there may be instances when the office manager takes full responsibility.

At its heart, office management is about analyzing data, coordinating employee communication, and streamlining essential business processes for more efficient workflows and improved work environments. ServiceNow, the leader in IT management, provides the solutions modern businesses need to get more out of their office management strategies, with Workplace Service Delivery (WSD).

ServiceNow WSD gives you the power to support your employees wherever they are, on whatever authorized devices they use, to create a fully connected workforce. Enhance visibility and provide intuitive mobile solutions for entering the workplace. Optimize your available office space with space-planning tools. Track cases, issues, and office service requests using comprehensive dashboards. Apply analytical insights for a real-time view into workplace services. And perhaps most importantly, give your employees the workplace resources they need to do their jobs well. ServiceNow makes it all possible.

Take office management further than ever before. Learn more about Workplace Service Delivery and create an office environment that promotes success.

Dive deeper with Workplace Service Delivery

Learn more about how Workplace Service Delivery can enable the new hybrid workplace for employees

Contact
Demo