An office administrator is the heart of the office environment. Their roles go beyond just answering the phone and welcoming guests.
Critical roles like communicating on behalf of company executives and organizing schedules are part of their responsibility. They ensure that all staff members have adequate support to perform efficiently.
In small organizations, the office administrator will support all company staff and executives. However, big companies may have an administrator for each department.
In both cases, they still perform the same roles. They are normally required to have a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent), proficiency in Microsoft and other applications, and an array of skills.
Office administrators take on a variety of tasks, most of which seem unrelated. For example tasks like coordinating an executive’s travel itinerary, sending emails to clients and planning office events are different.
However, they all require attention to detail, communication skills and planning skills. Let’s look at the various tasks of an office administrator:
For an administrator to perform the above tasks efficiently, they require a particular set of skills. Junior administrators can learn some of them on the job, but senior administrators must demonstrate most of them. Most individuals learn some of these skills in school or when growing up.
The success of an office administrator lies in their organizational skills, not just for themselves but for the whole office. They must be able to schedule highly demanding tasks during their most productive hours.
They must also keep email inboxes organized, use a paper wall calendar and set reminders for important events on digital calendars, create folders for company documents, and so on.
This role may require an individual to coordinate activities for different executives and across many departments. This means that it’s possible to lose track of time or take on too many tasks for a small time frame, making them inefficient.
This will affect the efficiency of other staff. They must plan their tasks ahead of time and determine how much time each task will take.
Company executives should be able to trust you to communicate on their behalf to other stakeholders (clients, suppliers, and consultants) clearly, professionally and in time.
Communication can be via emails, letters, phone calls and also in person. Staff also rely on administrators to communicate to top management on their behalf. Strong business writing skills, speaking skills, and a positive attitude are important.
Manual methods may get work done, but they waste time. In this digitalized world, office administrators must be technically savvy to execute their duties successfully.
Their role includes troubleshooting minor computer issues, creating spreadsheets, online research, using data entry software, and other applications like Google Docs, Google Drive, Microsoft Word, MS Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
Executives, fellow staff, and clients usually go to the office administrator with all their problems and questions. To provide effective solutions, administrators must use critical thinking skills. Generally, they solve these problems using these steps:
Strategic planning is another necessary skill that office administrators must possess. The absence of this skill will cause chaos in the office.
This skill will help them to schedule office activities, manage executives’ appointments, prioritize important tasks, and plan office processes among other tasks. In case of cancellations or other unexpected changes, they should have a plan in place.
Data entry and communication tasks require a detail-oriented administrator. There’s no room for typos, omissions, and errors in a memo, an email, or a report.
These mistakes give recipients (executives, staff, clients, suppliers) a negative impression. Administrators must proofread their communication and documentation before sending it out.
Administrators must be able to adapt quickly and be resourceful to support other staff. In case their immediate boss is not available to manage a crisis, they need to apply creative thinking and multitasking to sort out the issues and get the job done.
A good office administrator will find out your needs and fulfill them. An awesome office administrator will anticipate your needs and perform tasks before receiving instructions.
The versatility of this role offers office administrators a satisfying career path. Schedule planning, event managing, problem-solving and critical thinking skills allow these individuals to learn business operation processes. Something their fellow employees may not learn with their specialist positions.
Generally, a junior office administrator will advance to senior office administrator and then office manager. However, there are still opportunities to branch out into separate roles altogether.
Let’s say an office administrator has excellently performed their duties and impressed one of the executives. They can pursue an executive personal assistant role with that executive.
If an office administrator has taken a key interest in planning office meetings and events, he/she may choose to pursue a career in full-time event management. The possibilities of advancement are several.