Utilising Office Management Tools to Ease Workload & Improve Workplace Environment

Office management is a term that incorporates many tasks carried out to ensure an office’s environment is operating at its most efficient and productive. With growing workplace distractions and a lack of office management tool adaption, the average UK office worker is productive for just 3 hours daily, making effective office management necessary.

However, the management of an office setting can be overwhelming as duties include:

  • Booking meetings
  • Welcoming visitors
  • Training staff
  • Safeguarding assets
  • Replenishing and purchasing supplies
  • Managing floor space
  • Keeping occupants happy

Typically, these are the responsibilities of just one person; the Office manager.

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What Does Office Management Entail?

The saying ‘wear many hats’ is more related to the role of an office manager than it is to most other roles. “On reception and [being] the Office Manager, I literally cover everything”, explains Sharron Newland, Office Manager at The Home Office.

Video: Head of Workspace Solutions, Laura Wright, talks about the challenges faced when using various tools such as IWMS and spreadsheets as opposed to having an all-in-one CAFM solution.

To succeed in office management, office managers are expected to excel in:

  • Administration
  • Space Planning and Management
  • Communication
  • Task and Event Management
  • Tracking and Documentation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Equipment and Supplies Management
  • Office Budget Management

Two Stand-Out Challenges of Office Management

The list of duties that accompany an office management role can appear never-ending, each coming with their own set of unique challenges. But, there are two challenges that most Office Managers can agree on;

  1. An excessive workload
  2. A lack of communication

1. An Office Manager’s Workload

An Office Manager can take on multiple roles; a front-of-desk receptionist, an admin specialist, a human resources agent, and an asset manager. These roles then incorporate multiple responsibilities, such as:

  • Staff hiring & training
  • PR
  • Form design & control
  • Accounting
  • Purchasing
  • Safety compliance

Although some thrive in an environment of mounting responsibilities, the Journal of Experimental Psychology found multitasking to be damaging to an employee’s output. With more time needed to shift mental gears when switching between tasks, multitasking is proven to be less efficient.

In a 2014 Unison Survey with school office administrators, 93% of respondents expressed concern about their workload. One participant explained, “the biggest concern is the increase in workload but no increase in office hours…the assumption is that I will manage anything and everything.”

2. Lack of Organised Communication

Office Managers excel in the skill of communication and are expected to communicate with visitors, colleagues, and senior figures. However, an apparent lack of communication often arises in situations such as managing a hybrid workforce or following up with employee concerns.

In a State of the Office Manager report, 26% listed a lack of communication among their top three challenges in the role. While ‘A lack of interdepartmental communications’ was one of the biggest causes of stress for UK employees in 2020.

Productive communication is needed for booking meetings, planning room layouts, delegating work, scheduling Hard and Soft FM maintenance, and replacing office equipment.

Overcoming Challenges By Leveraging CAFM In the Office

For Office Managers to have more control over their workload and communication, their existing processes must be revitalised. In this scenario, the process is making sure they’re using the right office management software and tools.

In 2018, “implementing new processes to make my job easier/more streamlined” and “creating a more organised workplace” were two of the three top priorities that Office Managers wanted to achieve in the next 12 months.

Top priorities of office management

Source: www.snacknation.com, State of the Office Manager Report 2018

Implementing the right software for office managers will generally improve workflow, which, in turn, reduces workplace stress, streamlines tasks, and brings a more organised structure to the office management role. This is where Facilities Management Software comes in.

What Is Facilities Management Software Used For?

Facilities Management Software is typically used by landlords, property owners, and Facility Managers. It is a solution that allows users to store, access, edit, and communicate facility data from a single dashboard – effectively making the facility management process easier than ever before.

It helps to improve management activities in a built environment which include building maintenance, landscaping, catering, security, and parking – to name a few. But it’s also used by tenants, Space Managers, technicians, and Office Managers; not just senior figures.

The multiple capabilities of CAFM Software allow it to be utilised in all areas of a building. For instance, outsourced engineers can view work orders, catering staff can order kitchen supplies, and office employees can raise maintenance requests.

CAFM Features Designed for Office Managers

To highlight just how many office management capabilities are possible with the use of a facilities management solution, we have created the table below.

This shows the varying amount of tools needed for each of an Office Manager’s duties, compared to if that duty can be completed with the use of CAFM Software.

DutyTool NeededIncluded in CAFM Software?
Space planning/managementFloorplanner
Time managementCalendar
Room bookingNotepad
Asset trackingSpreadsheet
Maintenance schedulingPhone/Email
Purchase planning for equipment/suppliesMicrosoft Excel/Google Docs
Sharing files/documentsDropbox
Creating formsMicrosoft Word/Google Docs
Cost Management/Financial planningMicrosoft Word/Google Docs
Recording/retaining informationNotepad
Communicating with employeesEmail/Slack/Skype
Visitor managementSign-in book
Staff trainingMicrosoft Word/Google Docs/Email

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Alternative Tools Used By Office Managers

Of course, there are alternative tools besides the use of Facilities Management Software. Sharron, Office Manager at The Home Office, alluded to using four key tools to manage the office workload, “Google docs, Outlook, Microsoft Excel, and an in-house portal for members”.

Common tools that Office managers will use include:

  • Notepads & whiteboards: A pen-and-paper approach that has worked for several years but is susceptible to missing and misplaced information.
  • Spreadsheets: A cheap solution for collecting data but is prone to errors and a lack of functionality.
  • Microsoft Office: A suite of programs used to make notes and record information that requires purchases for each user.
  • Google Docs: An online and free-to-use system of applications for curating and annotating forms and documents.
  • Outlook email: A personnel inbox used to reach out to staff and to search for previous communication threads.
  • Dropbox: A downloadable app to store and share documents, files, and images with other Dropbox users.
  • Skype or Slack: Each is an instant messaging platform used to communicate between people in your network.

Of course, each tool listed above will get the job done. You may even find that you use most of the tools on this list.