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What is office administration?

Office administration may be defined as a set of practices that ensure smooth administrative, corporate, and financial functioning at the workplace. While it might seem like a straightforward discipline to the layperson, in reality, it covers a lot of ground. 

An office administrator is someone who makes sure that a company’s operations run effectively on a day-to-day basis. They ensure smooth handling of everything from incoming phone calls and post to office stationery and equipment.

In this article, we will answer the following questions:

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of an office administrator?

  • What sort of career path lies in office administration?

  • What kind of skills are needed in office administration?

  • Where do I get started?

What are the roles and responsibilities of an office administrator?

The responsibilities of an office administrator or office manager are manifold. From seemingly small things like stationery to larger issues like IT infrastructure and bookkeeping, there is a varied experience to be enjoyed in this role.

  • An office administrator will be expected to handle correspondence, redirecting incoming calls to the relevant departments as they arrive, taking messages when necessary, and ensuring a smooth line of communication for all parties.

  • They may have the responsibility of arranging travel plans for staff, be it for upper management or for larger company events, such as international conferences.

  • The office manager is responsible for ensuring that the store office supplies are at an appropriate level. This covers such things as pens and paper as well as ink and toner for printers, IT supplies such as keyboards and even arranging for the delivery of food to the office kitchen, where appropriate.

  • Understanding that different offices and companies have different needs is key to being a good office administrator.

  • An administrator will be required to take minutes in staff meetings, writing them up and distributing them to relevant parties after the meeting has been concluded. This requires attention to detail, quick thinking and recall and a speedy turnaround.

  • The office administrator will also liaise with HR to ensure adequate training of new staff, thus welcoming them into the company or department.

Some offices will have a team of administrators, with office assistants and admin assistants on hand to whom the manager can delegate different tasks. In other scenarios, the office administrator role will be a standalone position, a demanding yet rewarding task.

What sort of career path lies in office administration?

There are several crucial roles available in the domain of office administration. Given the number of soft and transferable skills this area requires, there’s plenty of potential for growth and development. A few areas to branch out to may be as follows:

  • An office manager or administrator could find themselves becoming an executive assistant. They carry out a lot of similar work – calendar management, handling information requests, organising meetings and taking minutes, arranging travel plans – but for one person rather than for an entire office.

  • An office administrator could also pave their path into HR. Being one of the initial points of contact means the office administrator communicates with all members of staff. Moreover, the organisational skills required for office administration will be hugely beneficial to a job in HR. With the right training, this lateral move could be easily achieved.

  • If an office manager is looking for an even bigger challenge, one could be found in the area of facilities management. Some of this may be familiar to the busy office manager, such as managing and procuring supplies. However, the facilities manager works on a larger scale, dealing with the company and its operations at a higher level.

What skills are needed to get into office administration?

The skills needed in the field of office administration are straightforward but essential. As mentioned above, it needs a range of soft and transferable skills that would be of value in any organisational setting. 

  • Communication Skills: Speaking to all members of staff as well as outsiders over the phone, email and face to face, it is essential that office administrators represent the company in a professional manner. They also require a certain level of diplomacy in  communication, whilst handling sensitive corporate documents, and in financial management.

  • Time Management: An office administrator must also be able to juggle many tasks at once. It’s vital that they are able to handle many administrative, financial, and corporate duties on the go. Therefore, time management and the ability to multitask are essential skills for this role. 

  • Organisational Skills: It goes without saying that managing a schedule full of meetings and administrative tasks requires stellar organisational skills. The potential to compartmentalise each task effectively, whilst ensuring timely delivery of items is of utmost importance.

How do I get started in Office Administration?

While the skills required may not be as specific and defined as those needed for some other roles, it takes a particular character to make an effective office administrator.

Learning the skills that are needed to succeed in this area starts with the right teachers. Sign up to the Professional Diploma in Office Administration at UCD Professional Academy today.