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What Is Office Administration?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Office administration is the process of overseeing the day-to-day operations of an office. The task of administration is usually the responsibility of an office administrator or manager. Depending on the general operating structure of the organization, and the complexity of tasks associated with the operation in general, the responsibilities of the manager or administrator may focus on a few core tasks, or involve the management of a wide range of functions.

One of the core tasks associated with office administration is the management of the employees associated with the office. Typically, office administrators are responsible for supervising the office staff, making sure that each employee has resources necessary to competently carry out his or her assigned duties. Administrators also function as troubleshooters, providing support and assistance to employees when unusual situations arise during the completion of an assigned task. It is not unusual for administrators to be responsible for conducting periodic employee evaluations, recommending pay increases, or providing employees with remedial or cross training as a means of assisting those employees to improve their relationships with the employer.

Along with managing and supporting employees, office administration also involves making sure that the office always has the resources needed to remain productive. This involves coordinating the repairs on any office equipment that is malfunctioning, or preparing and submitting requests for new equipment when necessary. Office administrators are often charged with the task of managing the use of office supplies such as paper, writing instruments, printer ribbons, and other items that are in constant use around the office. The office administrator strives to keep the office operating within its assigned budget at all times, and often has some input into the budget planning for upcoming accounting periods.

Depending on the scope of office administration involved, an employer may require that an administrator possess at least a two-year degree from an accredited educational institution, with that degree in a field related to the general function of the business. With office environments that are more complex, an administrator may be required to have a four-year degree in an appropriate course of study. Many companies prefer to promote from within, which means that someone who begins employment in an entry-level position may eventually receive the training necessary for becoming part of the office administration. When this is the case, the employer normally assists the employee with the opportunity to further his or her education, both through providing assistance in obtaining a degree, and with some type of mentoring program on the job.

What Is an Office Administrator?

As the name suggests, an office administrator is responsible for ensuring office environments run efficiently. This means coordinating many of the tasks that go on behind the scenes as well as acting as a general support for the other people who work in the office. Good office administrators understand the company's objectives and work to support the key business functions that help a business to attain those objectives. Because the jobs of office administrators are so varied, the people who work in these positions must be equally comfortable working on computers, working behind the scenes, and greeting both employers and clients in face-to-face interactions. Good administrators are friendly, outgoing, and have excellent problem-solving skills.

Qualifications Required To Be an Office Administrator

Most people will not need a college education to become an office administrator. However, it is expected that administrators havea high school diploma or the equivalent, such as a GED. Larger offices may also require that their administrators have first gained experience in the field by working for smaller companies. Other qualifications include the ability to work with various types of software applications, with the types varying depending on what the office uses.

Office aministrators must be highly organized individuals who know how to work in fast-paced environments that are sometimes stressful. Problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and a willingness to learn new tasks with short notice are all important as well. Many office adminstrators, especially those who work in environments such as medical or law offices, are privy to confidential information. For this reason, it is also required that the person in the job is trustworthy and knows how to keep information private.

What Does an Office Administrator Do?

An office administrator is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, although the specifics vary from company to company. At its core, the job requires a person to perform a range of clerical tasks that keep the company running efficiently. The administrator is often at the top of the chain of administrative employees and supervises them to ensure jobs are being done correctly. The broad job description may also include everything from organizing files to making travel arrangements for business executives as well as schedule appointments and meetings to ensure there are no duplicate bookings.

Office administrators who work with the public are often responsible for answering multiple phone lines and handling clients who come through the front doors as well. This includes connecting phone calls to certain extensions, taking messages for people who are out of the office, directing clients to proper offices or conference rooms, answering questions, and maintaining a professional and pleasant demeanor even during stressful situations.

Behind the scenes, office administrators must perform a wide variety of clerical duties. This includes responding to emails or instant messages, preparing letters, memos, or presentations, and handling the budget, including invoicing and monitoring the accounts receivables. Office administrators must also purchase office supplies as needed and may even be responsible for purchasing new equipment and furniture for the building.

How To Be a Better Office Administrator

As with any job, there are things you can do to become a better office administrator. Even though you can do the job with a high school diploma, if you want bigger opportunities at larger offices, consider earning your associate or bachelor's degree. While any type of degree proves you have discipline, focusing on business administration will help you to gain the knowledge you need to be excellent at your job.

Another way you can be better at your job is to learn how to use as many software applications as possible. While many companies still rely solely on Microsoft software, others are branching out to use cloud-based applications or Apple products. The more of these programs you know how to operate, the more varied your choices will be for work.

Focus on improving your verbal and written communication skills as well. Consider taking public speaking courses or writing courses that will help you to improve how you communicate with individuals. In addition to communication improvement, consider taking classes in budgeting and even event coordination, all of which can improve how you help to run a company's administrative needs.

Finally, learn how to think on your feet. No matter how well-prepared you are for a job, the unexpected will pop up from time to time. When plans are cancelled, flights change, or other things happen on the fly, you'll only have a few minutes or hours to get everything back on track. The better you are at problem-solving on short notice, the more vital you'll be to any company you work with.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon955321 — On Jun 06, 2014

Administrators can also coordinate and manage items and input from several department managers and/or supervisors. They are also typically the ones who compile, edit and publish or submit monthly reports, etc. They are the primary POC through which all office operations funnel through. In the company in which I work, the managers report to the division administrator who in turn is the primary POC for all upper management personnel.

By dkarnowski — On Sep 28, 2010

I think the key to a well managed office is not in the day to day operations and mechanical tasks but rather the intricacy of inter-personal work relationships. It should be a given that an office can managed itself in the routine functions of a business but to maximize employee output is by far more valuable to office administration.

By IceCarver — On Sep 28, 2010

Proper office administration can make or break the profit margin for a business. In my photography studio, we try to keep a maximum efficiency rate for our employees by utilizing the best methods of office administration.

Our manager is capable of handling tasks that would otherwise bring a business to a screeching halt. Having proper administration can also ensure that the employee workforce of a business is in a productive work atmosphere as this can have a drastic impact on efficiency as well.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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