When companies have outgrown their space and take on an office relocation project, it is common to hire a project manager. But when the move is complete, who is left take on daily office operations? Who coordinates with building security and schedules office cleaning services? What about planning weekly happy hours? Catering daily lunches?
Keeping the office running smoothly during a period of rapid growth is no easy task; having a dedicated office manager to ensure the coordination and preservation of your company’s culture, technology, and security is crucial.
Marcie Kowalski, Head of Global Facilities and Real Estate of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, is a distinguished professional with years of experience in facility and operations management. She has vast knowledge of what it takes to grow companies in everything from real estate and property management, to company culture and technology processes.
Currently, Kowalski is in charge of finding locations, hiring staff, and building out policies and procedures for her rapidly expanding organization. According to Kowalski, owning such an important part of the business includes “negotiating deals with real estate brokers, project managers, architects, construction managers and engineering firms.”
Although this may seem like a lot for one individual to take on, Kowalski doesn’t believe in outsourcing project managers or office managers, as it isn’t an accurate reflection of the culture the company is looking to foster. Having someone who “lives and breathes the culture every single day,” is critical to growing and integrating the company culture into every aspect of the business, Kowalski says.
It’s safe to say that Kowalski is an office management rockstar. She’s the heartbeat of the company: she is constantly working both behind and in front of the scenes to ensure her company is running smoothly. She’s a champion of the office culture, a promoter of a positive work environment, and an advocate for great technology.
With the help and insights from Kowalski, we’ve put together 3 tips for office managers who are looking to be a company superhero.
Tip #1: Be adaptable and agile
At a growing startup, change is inevitable; you’re constantly hiring, moving offices, adjusting your culture, adopting new technologies, and so much more. Owning such a large part of the ever-changing atmosphere at a company requires office managers to be able to easily adapt to new situations and be agile in their task management. There’s no doubt it’s a lot for one person to own, so being organized and having good critical thinking skills is imperative.
Your agility as an office manager is crucial to ensuring the success of the company. Your role involves so many areas of the business – operations, facilities, human resources, IT, culture – so being able to quickly pivot from a task in one area of the business to the next will allow you to tackle and own overall growth of the company.
To guarantee this success, no office manager is complete without his or her technology toolkit. For project management, Kowalski suggests Wunderlist, an app that allows you to “get stuff done” by managing your to-do lists, reminders, and errands. For visitor management, Envoy is a powerful and easy-to-use tool. Slack is a widely used communication tool that gives office managers the ability to monitor company channels and send out updates on the company, team, or individual levels.
The key to selecting the right tools for your company is to understand the needs of your company; office management tools are not a one size fits all solution. Once you’ve established this, your use of the tools you select allows you to adapt to and complete your tasks quickly, efficiently, and seamlessly.
Tip #2: Talk to and communicate with co-workers everyday
In a startup environment where everyone is scrambling to accomplish as much as possible as quickly as possible (especially office managers), maintaining strong communication between teams can easily fall by the wayside.
Everyone from interns to managers to the CEO should be part of your communication strategy with the company, as they are all dependent on you whether they realize it or not. While you may not need to update everyone in the company on a daily basis, you should at the very least be keeping the company in the loop by letting them know of changes you are implementing that will impact their day-to-day work experience. By communicating with employees, you’re establishing expectations with your peers and ensuring that they’re never caught off-guard by changes.
Outside of communicating your efforts with the company, you should be in contact with teams within the organization that you can leverage or work alongside to streamline your efforts.
For example, IT managers and office managers are often thought to have two completely different roles when, in fact, they have many of the same job responsibilities such as office security and access management.
“It is not uncommon for an office manager to do what the IT manager does, so it’s important for them to work and communicate closely as the company grows,” says Kowalski.
Because facilities are often an organization’s largest expense that falls under the non-revenue generation category, Kowalski stressed that it’s critical to have a direct line of communication with the COO and CFO to set proper expectations. As an office manager, you are in charge of emphasizing why daily operating costs are needed and how they correlate to company growth.
Tip #3: The Office Manager’s ABCs – Always Be Considering
At the end of the day, office and facility management demands a lot from managers. When you’re asking one individual to take on such a variety of duties – from reordering office supplies, to installing a new security system, to choosing a new office space, to letting the company know that lunch is being served – it’s easy to feel stretched thin and short of creativity.
To tackle this, Kowalski follows the ABC principle: “Always Be Considering.” For her, everything is an opportunity to spark a new idea for tackling her job in a fun, creative way. “I can go to Starbucks, be staying at a hotel, or be reading a magazine, and something may catch my eye and trigger an inspiration. I’ll think ‘Wow, I can apply this to my office.’”
Not only is Kowalski always learning from her day-to-day role at her company, she’s following the ABCs to optimize the impact she has.
When Kowalski has time to do some proactive learning about office management, however, her favorite reads are:
Being an office manager is an ever-changing role, especially in the startup environment. You have hundreds – if not thousands – of job duties, many of them invisible to the average employee. During an office move, your responsibilities are multiplied and the impact of your actions are magnified. By remaining adaptable and agile, open to communication, and mindful of the inspiration around you, you’ll establish yourself as the badass office manager who’s running the show.