What is an office manager?
An office manager is someone who can take care of all the small but crucial things that keep your business ticking over. From answering the phone to arranging team lunches, hiring an office manager will build company culture, keep costs down and save time for the rest of your team.
Why hire an office manager?
If you’re running a small business, then you’ll already know that your employees’ roles are fairly flexible. A good proportion of people who join a small business will already have accepted that they will be taking on tasks beyond those necessary in their role. Getting their hands dirty is all part of being scrappy and fighting for the greater good of the company.
However, there will come a point when cleaning up after a meeting, setting up the phone for a new hire or buying snacks for a breakfast with investors will distract whoever is performing these tasks from actually succeeding in the role they were hired to do. That doesn’t stop most startups from delaying hiring an office manager.
It is true that having eager employees is a good thing and that having everyone pull their weight around the office fosters a healthy collaborative culture. It also helps limit egos. If everyone has to do a bit of tidying, people can see that everyone is really grafting in order to build something special. But this attitude can only really work when your team is small.
The fear that the act of hiring an office manager will only be a cost that sucks money out of the company without contributing anything profitable is a bit of false logic. Once your team is big enough to have someone focusing on office manager responsibilities full or part-time, then that is a lot of specialised capacity you’ve freed up across the company. The office manager role allows you to get more value out of the rest of your team.
Every business will come to a point where it needs its leaders and senior professionals focused not only what they do best but also on those tasks that only they can do. If your CFO is spending time buying furniture on IKEA, then their particular, individual skill-set is being wasted.
The immediate value from hiring an Office Manager is the amount of time and energy that you end up saving across the rest of the team.
Moreover, if you can find someone with exactly the right approach and skill-set, then they can be absolutely phenomenal at making core office processes more efficient. An excellent office manager not only allows everyone else in your team to focus, they can also raise the bar of what is possible for the business to achieve as a whole.
Who to hire when looking for an office manager?
If you need some support across the office on small non-expert tasks, but don’t have the budget for a full-time hire, you could look to share an office manager with another business. This makes a lot of sense if you are sharing an office or operating out of a co-working space.
If not, you might want to look at hiring someone for just 2 or 3 days a week. Of course, that can become a tricky scenario to manage as so much of the value comes from the Office Manager being able to be reactive. They’ll always have a massive list of ad hoc tasks that need to get done across the business but the virtue of those tasks not being critical to the company often means that they can put most of them on hold in order to fix something more urgent in the office.
Interviewing for the right candidate is tricky because it’s a role that relies so much on having the right mindset that no discrete set of office manager duties will be able to tell you that you’ve found the right person.
When writing up an office manager job description, you want to be looking for someone who really relishes completing a lengthy to-do list. They will be someone who genuinely enjoys helping others and prides themselves on getting the little things right, who can pay attention to detail but who also has phenomenal people skills. Whether they can engage with and support the rest of the team is critical to their success. They are the heartbeat of the office and the one person you can be sure will have noticed when things aren’t quite going right.
In many ways, an office manager is the “Swiss army knife” of the company. They’ll come with an extensive tool kit that they can apply in various situations to complete a wide variety of tasks.
Sample list of Office Manager Responsibilities
- Manage office supplies so that the fridges and cupboards are always stocked
- Work with the building’s Community Manager to ensure the office has what it needs
- Ensure the meeting rooms are always client ready
- Maintain office efficiency by planning and implementing office procedures, layouts as well as sourcing and installing equipment
- Day to day office running (greeting clients and investors, watering plants, recycling, post)
- Coordinating birthday and anniversary celebrations
- Implement a health and safety policy
- Supporting events
You can also have a look at our list of questions to interview an office manager.
Sample Office Manager Job Description Requirements
- A passion for execution, getting your hands dirty to help us achieve our growth ambitions
- A fast worker, quick learner with a thirst to learn something new every day
- Excited to explore new and untested waters that are outside your comfort zone
- A good, fun team player who loves to get involved
- We love fun, quirky ideas, so sharp attention to detail is greatly appreciated
Hiring an office manager may be the surest way of getting the most out of your existing team.