By Tresa Peters
As we all adapt to a new normal amid COVID-19, work styles, communication and even work hours are changing. But while some jobs and roles are easier to transition to remote and digital platforms, the management of office operations is one of the more challenging roles to adapt.
As office manager of our firm, I’m the person our team members come to with their internal questions, meaning a lot of my interactions take place in person. But in this work-from-home era, I’ve noticed a few of my strategies help ensure that I’m staying on top of my own work and there to help any member of our team, whether that be online or over the phone.
- Set “Office Hours” To maintain some semblance of normalcy, I set clear “office hours” and get ready every day, just as I would if I were going into the office. I still make myself available outside these hours, but having a start and end time helps me stay focused on Hubbell during office hours and my family outside that time. For me, whether working remotely or in the office, getting going early in the morning is my best chance for success, as I can get a lot accomplished before most of the team really gets into their day. Working from home, I definitely dress in more comfortable clothing, but getting myself up, dressed and ready for the day helps get me motivated and moving. I eat breakfast and take a break for lunch, but my main focus during my “office hours” is Hubbell.
- Video Calls Really Do Matter One of the most significant challenges for any office adapting to remote work is online communications tools. Luckily, our team has used an online meeting platform to video chat with our Portland and Bend offices for some time, but one item I was tasked with in the early days of this pandemic was ensuring everyone had access to this virtual meeting platform, that their cameras were working correctly and that any technology issues that came up were quickly addressed. While a lot of people online are joking that they’re tired of video calls, I’ve noticed how important they are for our team and how much of a mood booster it can be for our staff to see each other. It really helps us all feel reconnected.
- Prioritize, Prioritize Prioritizing and reprioritizing throughout the day has always been part of my work routine. And during this pandemic, it has proven to be an even more valuable tool. Additional administrative tasks from the early stages of this pandemic flooded my email inbox (my to-do list) with items that needed to be addressed. As I work to organize my time, setting reminders helps me stay on top of important tasks. If daunting tasks start to overwhelm me, I’ll take a step back, look through my list and reorganize a bit. This 15-20 minute task gives me a mental break to clear my head, refocus and give my mind a clearer picture of what’s ahead.
While some of the office logistics can be adjusted, there are some tasks that can only be addressed by being physically present in the building. Some of the more logistical challenges around managing a remote office include working with mail, packages and delivery services to schedule or hold deliveries until they can be picked up. Required maintenance of the physical office building has also had to be postponed or rescheduled.
Though my team sometimes pokes fun at the regimented, detailed approach I take to accomplishing all the tasks on my plate, I really do love managing all the aspects of an office, global pandemic or not.