Often categorized along with talent acquisition manager, community manager—or another role from the human resources department—an office manager’s job scope can be confusing. We interviewed our own office manager, Gema Sundstrom, based in Kisi’s Swedish office; she has experience as both a community manager in a coworking space and a traditional office manager.
Common Misconceptions About the Role of an Office Manager
The role of an office manager is often less structured since human resources and office operations can overlap and different companies have contrasting ideas of what an office manager is; however, it’s important to differentiate one job from the other in the office so that tasks can be carried out more efficiently and professionally. These are some common misconceptions about the role of an office manager:
Receptionists who are in charge of coffee orders and front-desk tasks
- Only responsible for work related to administrative tasks
- A community manager, like that of a coworking space manager
- A human resources manager who is typically responsible for setting rules for employees and the recruitment of talent
What are the normal responsibilities of an Office Manager?
The job of an office manager is to support company operations through maintaining office systems and supervising employees. His or her duties is a blend of the following:
- Administrative responsibilities
- Personal Assistant-related work: Generating meeting notes, picking up calls, general questions regarding front-end business operations
- Receptionist responsibilities: Handling external people who come into the office
- Payroll: Invoices from contractors, making rent payments, etc.
- Organizing an office’s administrative structure
- Approving office supplies, pantry needs, etc.
- Meeting the needs of workers and maintenance tasks, such as contacting the landlord
- Office management: Supervising who’s coming and going at the office, etc.
- People management: Supervision of employees
What are the benefits of being an office manager?
All of these varied responsibilities may be overwhelming for some, but the benefits of doing different tasks is also learning new skills. Being an office manager and having a fluid job scope gives you the chance to be involved in different projects and event management roles. As your role varies, you learn to be good at many things and not just one. Being a people manager and first point of contact means you also get to interact with people of different experiences and backgrounds every day—whether it’s your colleagues, visitors, or superiors.
What two qualifications will help office managers do their jobs better?
Business-related experience can help you to understand the way your company runs. Knowledge about how a business operates opens up more doors for you and is valuable, especially considering the fact that you’re working with a company’s management
Organizational skills, or any experience in people management, can help you interact with people, such as sorting out their workplace problems, payroll issues and so on. This may seem like a simple job but experience in navigating employee issues really aids an office manager’s day-to-day operations
What’s your inspiration?
Personally, my dad has been working for IKEA for 29 years and their people management style is a real inspiration to me. Their organization treats their staff extremely well—there’s hardly any negativity, providing them with educational opportunities to help them progress in their roles. Similarly, Virgin and its non-traditional, flat organizational structure is an interesting case study to examine. Virgin allows for progressive employment opportunities that recognize the outside of work-commitments that employees experience. I think giving people a part to play, and in return rewarding them with something valuable, is important. That’s why these two companies inspire the way I work.
Tips on being a good office manager:
- Be organized
- If you can’t practice multitasking, force yourself to prioritize
- Improve your people skills and be happy to interact and understand different types of personalities
- Empathy is key!
- Keep an open mind by being open to having many different types of tasks at once