Three truths about being an office manager:
- You’re in charge of a lot of different things. No day is ever the same.
- You’re critical to the everyday success of an office.
- This is a stressful job.
The heart of everything we do at OfficeLuv is to make life easier for the office manager; empowering you to thrive in your role, grow your career, and reduce stress along the way.
From our experience working directly with hundreds of office managers around the country, we’ve noticed five common stressors Office Managers face. In this article, we’ll share five strategies to help eliminate, or at least reduce, the stress associated with each one.
The multitasking aspect of this role is unavoidable. Even within one responsibility like ordering, there’s ordering food for lunches, drinks, snacks, catering, as well as ordering office supplies and new furniture. Dive into just one of those subcategories (office supplies), and there’s printer paper, markers, pens, cubicle pins, nameplates, etc.
One minute you’re doing this task. Next minute you’re working on the holiday party. Next minute you’re rushing across the building to set up chairs for an all-company meeting. All while emails and Slack messages are coming in, disrupting whatever task you were right in the middle of accomplishing.
Our suggestion to fight this constant pressure of multitasking? Schedule-block your calendar. For example, maybe from 9-10, you are “on-call” for all of the incoming messages. Anything that comes in you tackle right away. But from 10-12 you’re doing something else. Email isn’t even open. (Hey, easier said than done!)
If someone comes by with a new non-urgent task, maybe that goes into a designated block of time at the end of the day. Blocking out your schedule helps relieve the pressure of “I need to get everything done right away.”
If you’ve ever said, “I just feel sluggish at work, I’m not sure why,” the answer could be as simple as where your desk is located.
The Harvard Business Review found that the #1 office perk isn’t happy hours. It isn’t a ping pong table. It’s actually natural light. So, if your desk is in a spot that doesn’t receive much of it, this could be negatively impacting your day-to-day office experience, increasing stress levels.
Granted, every office is different, and you might not be able to move your desk permanently, but consider moving around throughout the day, spending 2-3 hours in a location with better natural light and getting outside at lunch. This can significantly help your energy levels throughout the workweek.
This one is tough because one of the highest qualities and strengths office managers possess is caring about their colleagues, wanting to make the office experience better. Wanting to make people happy.
However, this can quickly devolve into “people-pleasing,” which can drain on your energy levels and increase stress.
It happens gradually. You receive a bunch of different requests throughout the day. Hey, we’re out of coffee in the kitchen. Hey, sorry, but it looks like we might be out of printer paper. Hey, you think we could get a few more M&Ms in the Trail Mix?
Your reason for quickly tackling each incoming task comes from the right place; you’re trying to help. But then you get to the end of the day, your boss asks, “Do you have the spending numbers from last month?” and you say, “Shoot, no, sorry. I wasn’t able to get to it yet. I can work on it tonight though.”
One important thing to remember: Each incoming task doesn’t have to be tackled right that minute. Setup some boundaries. You can let the employee know what you’re working on that morning/afternoon and say, “I’ll be able to get to that right after I finish this budget report.”
You won’t be disappointing your colleagues at all. You may personally feel like you’re going slower, but they will still see you as moving incredibly fast.
Need help running reports on your monthly spend? OfficeLuv makes this process easier through our custom reporting tools. See how it works here.
Remembering the bad things
It’s human nature for us to remember the bad things more than good or regular things. Bad things stick out in the memory for going against the normal pattern.
So, an employee remembers the day the printer was out of paper when they badly needed an important document to print. But the 100 days in between when things were working fine doesn’t stand out. We remember the day when there was no coffee in the kitchen, not the 100 other days when it was well-stocked. We notice the handful of Trail Mix that shortchanged us on the M&M ratio.
Because of this, it’s normal for office managers to hear when things are wrong more often than when things are going right. Moreover, because you’re naturally empathetic and care about the employee experience, it’s easy to take these to heart. “Wow, look at all of these complaints coming in. I must be doing a bad job.”
This next tip is a hard one to implement, but it’s important: set your own internal goals and measurements to judge progress. Lists of what you want to get done each day. Each month. Then measure by these marks. Accept that some things are going to break and the office is going to be out of different supplies from time to time. These shortages have nothing to do with how you’re doing at the job, just comes with the territory, especially if you’re at a fast-growing company.
And whenever you have the office saint who stops by and says, “Hey, just wanted to say, everything is well-stocked, the printer is printing out great, the coffee is awesome. You’re doing awesome.” Smile. Nod. And think to yourself, “Yeah, I kind of am.”
Cleaning up messes
Saved the messiest one for last. You know those times when you walk into the kitchen and see this:
It’s the ultimate internal struggle. You have the good angel on one shoulder saying, “I know, it sucks, but go ahead and clean it up. It’s for the good of the office. And it won’t take very long.” But the bad angel quickly chimes in, “What? Are you kidding me?! I’m not touching that mess. I’m not their Mom.”
Our recommendation: Collaborate with others in the office on tackling this issue. Chances are there are at least five other people who go through this same good angel vs. bad angel moral debate in the kitchen (and then usually cave, cleaning up the mess). Meet with them, come up with fun initiatives or contests to encourage people to use the dishwasher.
By having a few more people in your corner, you don’t have to feel like you’re the only one calling out this issue. Maybe you have a rotating system for when there is a mess that isn’t disappearing, you say, “Alright, my turn to be the good angel. But you’ve got the next one.”
Bonus tip – Plants. Secretly stress-reducing
Alright. One more. This one is kind of surprising, turns out just taking care of a plant at your desk can reduce stress and improve your mood.
For more information on the science behind it, check out this article on NBC News.
So, to recap, here are a few key ways to reduce stress as an office manager:
- Increase natural light.
- Take control over your calendar.
- Don’t feel like you have to please everyone all the time.
- Set your own internal goals and measurements.
- Share the burden of the messy sink with a few other colleagues.
- Then, with what time is leftover, enjoy the sneaky good benefits of taking care of a plant at your desk.
If you ever need a sidekick to reduce the day-to-day stress even further, let us know. We’re happy to help take a few things off your plate (even if one of those plates is still in the sink).
OfficeLuv reduces stress for hundreds of Office Managers all around the country. Want to learn more or test things out with a free trial? Check out our new video here or reach out to us directly via email@example.com.