There is no role more underrated than the office manager role. Many still believe that the job title is simply a variation of 'secretary' or 'receptionist' however it is so much more and is not for the faint hearted! The variety and challenges that today’s office managers experience is better suited for personality types that avoid monotony in the workplace and crave intellectual stimulation. Beyond manning the ship, this role is never short in opportunities when it comes to developing leadership and management skills. Be sure to look at some of our office manager roles within both our temporary and permanent pages on our job board. You will be quick to learn that the typical experienced office manager that a high-profile company look for is one that has the capabilities to lead a team, delegate tasks and make decisions that impact the efficiency and productivity of the workplace.
To talk about what it takes to become an Office Manager and what will make you succeed in your role, we are happy to introduce our very own office manager, Livvy Bushell who will talk us through her first-hand experience.
Why did you choose to become an Office Manager?
Becoming an Office Manager wasn’t a first choice but a lucky turn of events! I was working part-time as an archivist in an art studio and had just started teaching yoga after qualifying, but I wanted to find something more stable and paid better.
Without knowing much about the type of role it was, the job title suggested to me that office managing was going to be diverse, dynamic, unpredictable, and multifaceted. That certainly turned out to be true, which has made me consider it more of a potential career that can evolve across industries, rather than just a stop-gap job.
Give us some insight into what you were doing before.
Before I started my Office Manager role, I’ve predominantly worked in education or a hospitality setting. After graduating, I worked at a local pub during the uncertainty of COVID, whilst registering with a variety of educational agencies. I then worked as a Teaching Assistant / Special Needs Assistant in a primary school for 6 months, which was very rewarding, but I would have preferred to utilise my English Literature degree more.
I accepted an Unqualified English Teacher role in a secondary school, which was the definition of being chucked in the deep end. Four KS3 classes equivalent to over 100 students became my responsibility overnight. In some ways teaching and office managing have a lot in common: very social, a demand for time management, a balance of routine vs. daily unpredictability as well as being on my feet. I stuck with teaching for a year and loved the job (most of the time), but I decided not to embark down the teacher training route as I was only 24 and wanted to see what else was out there. Teaching may be something I go back to in the future, but for now I’m much happier being able to leave my job at the door and no longer doing heaps of marking or lesson planning out-of-hours!
What is the most rewarding part of being an Office Manager?
I love how every week is different! While I have some weekly set tasks with deadlines that give my week structure (e.g., invoicing and payroll, creating spreadsheets for team meetings, grocery orders etc.), around those recurring assignments my to-do lists vary day-by-day, from events planning or office maintenance to PA responsibilities. I switch between desk-based tasks to running errands around Soho, which is great for me as I like to be active. Some of my jobs are quick and satisfying ticks off my list, whereas some fit more into the project category and take longer to achieve and require a different type of brain power. Within my job there’s space for me to be methodical, tech-savvy, organised and pragmatic, as well as problem-solve, channel my creative streak or be innovative across my varied responsibilities.
What are the challenges of being an Office Manager?
I’d say the biggest challenge can be juggling the wide-sweeping needs and requests of those in the office, which can often come with time constraints. Tech issues or dilemmas in the office (e.g., a laptop crash minutes before a candidate meeting or no running water) can be high pressure as it is on me to fix an issue quickly to make sure business runs smoothly. It’s great being the go-to in our team, as I get to interact with everyone on a regular basis and build good relationships with my colleagues. I keep a close eye on the budget for social events, tech, and general office spending, so it can sometimes be difficult making sure everyone has what they ask for whilst having to say no sometimes to ensure we stay on budget.
What skills do you need to be an Office Manager and why?
Office management requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to the everchanging responsibilities of the job. I’m constantly encountering new challenges that I haven’t dealt with before, which means I must respond quickly whilst also remaining level-headed and a calm presence in the office. Being proactive and multitasking are important for my role as well, to make sure a variety of things on my list get done efficiently.
What are your words of wisdom to those looking for a career in Office Manager?
Be open to working in different industries and sectors, as office management really helps you refine so many useful transferrable skills that could help you land your dream job one day! Once you get your foot in the door in an office management role, you are opening yourself to a world of new challenges and possibilities for the future. Show enthusiasm to take on new responsibilities that you didn’t initially expect you’d be doing, so you are constantly developing skills, growing and really get to make the role your own!
Here are the key points to remember:
- The role of an Office Manager does not require any specific qualifications although experience in dynamic and high-pressure environments are useful.
- The main character traits of an Office Manager are flexible and calm. It is also essential to have excellent communication capabilities and organisation skills to man the ship that is an office.
- Being an Office Manager in any industry or sector could open incredible doors in your future with all the useful transferrable skills that can be picked up.
- If you are interested in current open vacancies as an Office Manager, see our job board or speak to one of our consultants on 0207 036 2030.