As an office manager, you wear many hats. You plan events, schedule office cleaning, order team meals, and respond to an endless stream of requests from your coworkers. If you’re at a small company, you might fill in for entire departments that have yet to be hired: HR, IT, and accounting. When something needs to be done, and there’s no one responsible for doing it, you’re there to fill in the gaps. Serving as the Jack or Jill of all trades is a dynamic, and exciting role to play, but it can also be overwhelming.
Since we’re constrained by the laws of physics and can’t be in two places at once, your best option is to find strategies to optimize and automate as many of your tasks as you can so you can free yourself up to concentrate on higher value work, like planning your company’s next retreat or tackling an office redesign.
Thankfully, there’s a bevy of software products available that can take the tedium out of managing your day-to-day tasks. After talking with a wide range of office managers, these are tools that they feel they couldn’t do their job without. Whether it’s sending an (automated) email to remind your teammates to choose their lunch option for the all-day team meeting, or tracking requests to adjust the office thermostat, these products might come to feel like extensions of yourself. If you want to start optimizing your workflow, here are a few office-manager approved products and services to try:
Streamline employee requests: Hivy
Hivy is a task management tool for office operations teams and a helpdesk system for employees. The platform enables office managers to collect employee requests, manage projects, assign tasks to their team or external vendors, and notify employees when their requests have been completed.
Hivy is integrated with an office's usual workflow through an online dashboard, email, and Slack integrations, ensuring team needs are never lost in the daily shuffle. Hivy was built with the employees in mind, allowing them to help shape their workplace environment, and is customer-centric, focusing on making office managers save as much time and energy as possible. Plus, Hivy makes it easy to track your performance and get insights on your office trends with built-in data reporting.
"Hivy has become a critical piece of our operations," said Seni Sulyman, Country Director of Andela Nigeria. "In our Lagos office of nearly 500 people, it helps us prioritize and address employee workplace needs and better understand how we can be more seamless, efficient and cost-conscious."
Video conference without stress: Highfive
How much time have you wasted struggling with conference call technology while participants get increasingly annoyed and disengaged? Wrestling with unreliable web conferencing software and hardware is a notoriously frustrating waste of time and can make you look unprepared and unprofessional.
Highfive created a sleek, simple system to address this challenge that is a combination of software and hardware. A small, wireless device that serves as both a camera and microphone is connected to a conference room monitor and is integrated with easy-to-use software. When you’re setting up a video call, everyone attending is given access to a readable link such as highfive.com/weekly-team-meeting, so each participant knows what they are clicking into. Attendees click on the link, and they’re in. There are no passwords or pin codes. There are no more frantic Slack messages from your boss reading Help! I can’t get into this meeting! Plus, you’ll no longer lose 5 minutes at the beginning of every meeting, as you try to troubleshoot the tech.
Plan better team meals: No fuss corporate catering
As an office manager, ordering food for the office can be a big timesuck. You need to make sure it shows up on time, that you have everyone’s dietary needs covered, and that you have enough utensils for everyone. Fortunately, caterers that specialize in corporate plans, such as Seamless, FoodtoEat, EZcater, and Cater2Me are there to help.
At Uproxx, Office Manager Michael completely automated team lunch days with a Seamless corporate account. He was able to create individual accounts for each team member, set a budget, and send automated emails to remind his team to place their orders. Not only can a service like Seamless save you hours, but your team members can choose food that works with their dietary preferences and needs. The app also sends just one invoice for all the orders placed — making accounting a breeze.
Snack on demand: A reliable grocery delivery service
Workplace snacks are one of the most popular perks in the modern office. If you’re in charge of maintaining office snacks, you know that an empty fruit bowl and chip basket can bring out the a collective wave of angst among your coworkers. To stave off hangry team members, place a standing order with a grocery service to ensure you’ll never run out milk for morning coffee or pita chips and hummus during the afternoon snack rush. While grocery services vary by area, here are some major ones:
- AmazonFresh: available in California and many major cities
- FreshDirect: available in NYC and parts of the Mid-Atlantic
- PeaPod: available in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest
- InstaCart: available in 26 states
For non-perishable snacks, SnackNation is available everywhere and delivers regular shipments of healthy snacks. No two snackboxes are the same, so adventurous snackers can try new snacks every month.
Manage all your projects: Trello
Often favored by designers and developers, Trello is a flexible project management and collaboration tool. It works like a digital whiteboard, covered in post-it notes. Except each post-it note (called a ‘card’) can include text, images, and attachments. Cards can be labeled, assigned to a specific person, and given a due date. Anyone with access to a board can comment on a card, so boards can serve as a communication hub as well.
It’s a simple system, but an effective one. “Being in operations, I have my hands in multiple different departments. This is the best way for me to track progress for each of the commitments I have. Also I love that I don't have to track down a certain email chain. We message on the card itself and all the information I need on that project is there,” wrote Shawna B. on G2Crowd.
Simplify benefits and compliance: JustWorks
If you work at a small company, as the office manager you might also be serving as the de facto payroll or benefits administrator. When you are trying to juggle this on top of other responsibilities, software like JustWorks can be a lifesaver. It automates payroll, manages paid time off, and helps with benefits, compliance, and employee onboarding.
“We're growing rapidly and had just hired a COO for operational issues, but discovered she is also extremely good with customers too. So we needed to automate even more processes, and quickly. Justworks was a perfect choice, both for helping us decide which direction in health benefits would support our continued growth, and with streamlining the benefits tax paper trail we needed too,” writes Jackie B. on Capterra.
Facilitate coworker bonding: Donut
If one of your many hats is Fun Coordinator or Culture Building Specialist, coming up with creative ideas to help cultivate strong relationships at the office is a big responsibility and Donut is here to help. Donut is a Slack integration powered by artificial intelligence that can pair teammates for a casual meeting. Every few weeks, the friendly Donut chatbot will message pairs of people who don’t interact much on Slack (or presumably, in real life) and suggest they get together for coffee or a meal to get to know one another.
It’s a great tool for big offices where two people might pass each other every day but never work together. “Donut allows coworkers, who have hundreds of small interactions with each other throughout the work week, to actually connect on a level that matters,” says Donut fan and Managed by Q Senior Account Executive Lukas Effman.
Donut also can simply and automate your onboarding process for new employees and help them find the information they need as they settle in to their new role.
Collect data about your office: Survey Monkey
Office-wide surveys can take the temperature of a workplace and help you gather information that you need to make informed decisions about office events and resources. How are employees feeling about the company? Do they like the current snack selection? Who do they think will win The Bachelorette?
Important questions require reliable tools. SurveyMonkey makes it simple to create professional and sleek surveys, and to analyze the data you collect within the app, or export it to Excel or SPSS.
Automate your facilities services: Managed by Q
As an office manager you know that the condition of your office impacts your the productivity of your team, but managing it all takes time and care. Employee expectations for their office experience have grown, and office operations teams need to make sure they meet them.
To help you ensure a great office experience, Managed by Q brings together technology, a curated network of trusted service professionals, and guidance from a team of office experts. Whether you are setting up regular cleaning or preparing for an office move, through Q’s dashboard you can find vetted service providers, request and approve quotes, and manage billing.
“Managed by Q frees up my time so I can focus on making people happy at work and the cultural and communication element of my job, while managing our facilities,” said La Leurentop, the office manager at Greenhouse’s New York City office.
These workplace technologies can help you streamline communication and collaboration, automate tedious tasks, and build the company culture you strive for. As you integrate these tools into your daily routine, you’ll be able to spend more time on creative aspects of your job and deliver a great office experience for your team.
Illustration by Tin Nguyen