As workplaces settle into a new normal, employees, workplace leaders, facility managers, and corporate office managers are getting more comfortable with remote and hybrid work.
Gallup research reveals that 50% of U.S. employees work in jobs that can be done at least partly from home. This jives with our own research, where 56% of respondents say the majority of their employees work in the office full time, and 40% say the majority of their teams are hybrid.
Moreover, Gallup found that employees prefer to be in the office two to three days per week on average. It also underscores the benefit of this arrangement for both employers and employees: hybrid work optimizes employee engagement in many cases.
Why Office Management is Rising in Importance
Today's employees increasingly comprise millennials and Gen Z, and the heightened expectations of these digital natives translate to demands for efficient, frictionless office experiences where culture and collaboration thrive.
Yet, survey findings indicate huge gaps between employee expectations and their office realities. Separate Gallup research found that 54% of the younger generations are not engaged.
54% of the younger generations are not engaged.
Hand in hand with this, they report more stress and work-related burnout than older colleagues. According to Johns Hopkins University, “This will continue…if a majority of young employees don’t have strong relationships with their managers, employers, or coworkers.”
With these outcomes in mind, hybrid and remote work arrangements raise employer concerns around collaboration, culture, and productivity. Moreover, it’s complicated trying to ensure employees enjoy equal access to supporting resources.
As workplaces adjust to these new realities and challenges, they recognize the power of effective, modern office management.
What is Office Management?
The happiest employees are empowered to work productively, efficiently, autonomously, and collaboratively while feeling clear about their jobs and expected outcomes. That’s where office management comes in.
As the administration of core processes underpinning office operations, office management is key to enabling the workplace experience that employees crave. Responsible for planning, coordinating, and controlling office activities – as well as ensuring needed resources are available and performing optimally – workplace leaders are pivotal to employee productivity and satisfaction. Whether it's a virtual office manager, a facilities leader, a corporate office manager or something else entirely, a good office manager needs to juggle multiple tasks.
In fact, modern office managers, IT leaders, administrative staff and facilities managers do a lot more than handle office administration tasks – they increasingly execute strategies designed to create productive, smoothly operating workplaces. To that end, office manager skills include guiding and coordinating employee activities, evaluating performance, and making adjustments to improve productivity.
The Elements of Modern Office Management
In today's world, effective office management empowers workplace teams with the right technology, policies, resources, and support to enable scheduling, staffing, communication, performance tracking, and more.
Technology can drive efficiency, communication, and better decision-making across the workplace. As a prevailing technology, AI can automate and improve many routine processes, while enhancing operations and supporting better time management skills.
An office manager or workplace leader can call upon workplace analytics to understand employee preferences, such as how desks, rooms, office spaces, and other resources are being used. In turn, workplace leaders can better forecast demand and take steps to elevate the employee experience.
To address employer concerns about employee productivity, good office management incorporates software to monitor performance. By understanding how employees are executing their jobs, office managers and workplace leaders gain insight that can help them course correct.
Considering that 88% of companies mandate some in-office time, good office management includes policies that help everyone understand expectations. Such policies are part of a workplace strategy that explains how, when, and where work happens.
Clearly communicating this vision paves the way for employees to do their best work – especially in hybrid scenarios where it’s critical for employees to plan their days on site for interactions and collaboration with coworkers.
At the same time, Gallup found that employees are most engaged when their teams decide on hybrid schedules, so effective workplace managers invite employee input when creating those policies.
Since a main reason for in-person work these days is collaboration with colleagues, employees must be able access everything required to succeed.
Take resource, office, and desk booking, a core need in the hybrid workplace. Office managers can provide software and apps that make it easy for employees to reserve critical resources and office equipment for their time in the office.
The most effective office managers are also responsive to employee frustrations and problems. Should a laptop, standing desk, or conference room light be acting up, employees need a way to easily report the issue and get it fixed so they can return to their work.
3 Actionable Tips for Better Office Management
No matter the industry or company size, all organizations can improve office management and, in turn, their culture and business productivity.
Prioritize the employee experience
With AI offloading many manual tasks, the employee experience will become even more important. Office management approaches that help deliver such experiences could mean the difference between employee engagement and attrition.
Taking advantage of the latest technology can help here.
For example, office managers can equip employees with tools that let them solicit room suggestions based on past booking preferences, and automatically check in to their offices and desks once they arrive at the office.
When it comes to in-office policies and schedules, employees could track their in-office time via a mobile app to easily ensure they are compliant with policy.
Moreover, to continually improve the workplace and employee experience, office managers can gather feedback via an employee experience survey. The best workplace experiences are shaped by understanding and responding to employee preferences and needs.
Knowing many employees missed the camaraderie and innovative thinking that accompanies in-person meetings, organizations are wise to enable collaboration in hybrid work settings.
Office managers can train employees on the elements of effective collaboration and encourage teams to share collaboration best practices and successes.
Pair this with making available the resources people need.
For instance, effective workplace technology can make it easy for employees to connect by helping schedule meeting rooms or book desks. It can even help employees and visitors such as vendors easily navigate to the spaces where that collaboration will take place.
Empower employees to advance
The younger generation of employees are known for their entrepreneurial mindset, competitive spirit, and desire for financial security. With that in mind, they seek continual guidance and support in advancing their skills and careers.
Effective office management can play a part by ensuring managers have insight into employee career goals and performance. For example, office managers can track progress against key performance metrics and pass along this information to inform performance reviews and development plans.
With this information at hand, workplace leaders can offer development opportunities and ensure effective coaching to satisfy both employer and employee goals.
Drive Better Employee Experiences and Engagement
When office management is effective, the result is a work environment that promotes efficiency, collaboration, productivity, and – ultimately – employee engagement and satisfaction. Satisfying these expectations is increasingly important with the rise of millennials and Gen Z.
By accommodating their work preferences, organizations boost the likelihood of hiring and retaining top talent. Fortunately, a sound office management strategy supported by the right policies and workplace tools can help deliver the experience that today’s employees seek.