Keeping up

Keeping up

Why an office manager is a necessity, not a luxury, for small and medium-sized businesses

As the modern workplace evolves, one expert says companies would be wise to not scrimp on one position.

Dr. Melanie Peacock, an associate professor and workplace expert at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, says a good office manager can be the glue that holds SMEs together as workplaces continue to undergo significant changes. A recent survey by Grand & Toy says these businesses, which employ thousands in Atlantic Canada, are often ill-prepared for the disruptions occurring in their own work environments. The survey found five per cent of SMEs are well on their way to adapting to the changing demands of the Canadian workplace.

That’s a problem. If they fail to adapt to changing workplaces, it could hamper their ability to attract and retain good employees and ultimately make themselves less profitable. “Owners are focusing so much on the business, they can miss out on these strategic issues,” says Dr. Melanie Peacock, as associate professor and workplace expert at Calgary’s Mount Royal University. “But they have to make a concerted effort to think about these things and stay up to date with trends in human resources.”

Dr. Peacock says one way to stay ahead of the pack is to hire—if they don’t already have one—an office manager or retain the one they do have. Because business owners often don’t have time to consistently deal with the evolution of today’s office, such as demands for more open spaces to work in or to have flexible hours and work from home, an office manager can ensure this is addressed and employee expectations are met.

“The office manager role is becoming more necessary and prominent,” Dr. Peacock says. “You need someone to coordinate work spaces. You need someone to liaise with remote workers and to get formal and informal information to them. And you need someone to provide expectations to all your employees, so they feel connected and motivated and are doing their jobs.”

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