With strong organisational and administrative skills, you'll find office manager opportunities at companies across a range of sectors
Your responsibility as an office manager is to oversee the administrative activities that facilitate the smooth running of an office, organising people, information and other resources. You'll ensure that office equipment is maintained to the appropriate quality and quantity, relevant records are up to date and all administrative processes work effectively.
In a small organisation you may carry out most of the tasks yourself, while at larger organisations you could supervise the work of a team. Job titles vary and alternatives include:
- business manager
- administrative manager
- operations manager.
As an office manager, you'll need to:
- use a range of software, including email, spreadsheets and databases, to ensure the efficient running of the office
- manage online and paper filing systems
- develop and implement new administrative systems, such as record management
- record office expenditure and manage the budget
- organise the office layout and maintain supplies of stationery and equipment
- maintain the condition of the office and arrange for necessary repairs
- organise and chair meetings with staff - in lower-paid roles this may include typing the agenda and taking minutes, but senior managers usually have an administrative assistant to do this
- oversee the recruitment of new staff, sometimes including training and induction
- ensure adequate staff levels to cover for absences and peaks in workload, often by using temping agencies
- carry out staff appraisals, manage performance and discipline staff
- delegate work to staff and manage their workload and output
- promote staff development and training
- implement and promote equality and diversity policy
- write reports for senior management and deliver presentations
- respond to customer enquiries and complaints
- review and update health and safety policies and ensure they're observed
- check that data protection laws are being adhered to in relation to the storage of data, and review and update policies
- arrange regular testing for electrical equipment and safety devices
- attend conferences and training
- manage social media for your organisation.
- Salaries for office managers vary depending on the type of industry, employer and level of responsibility involved. Typical starting salaries may range from £18,000 to £30,000.
- With experience salaries can rise to between £30,000 and £50,000.
Office manager positions, in areas such as the NHS and higher education, will usually follow a grading structure.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
You'll typically work a 35-hour week, although you may need to start early or stay late during busy periods. There may be opportunities for part-time work or job sharing.
What to expect
- Work is office based. The size and style of the office will depend on the organisation you work for. For example, you may have an office to yourself or share with a team in an open-plan office.
- Jobs are available in towns and cities throughout the UK. There may also be opportunities with smaller businesses in rural locations.
- In most posts, smart, professional dress is expected, particularly in customer-facing roles.
- The work can be challenging, as you're often responsible for meeting targets and deadlines and disciplining staff.
- You may travel between offices if you're working at split-site locations, or sometimes further afield for training and conferences, or working at other branch offices.
You can become an office manager with any degree subject or HND, but the following subjects may be particularly helpful:
- business administration/business management
- computing and information technology
- human resource management
- public administration.
Entry without a degree, HND or foundation degree is possible if you have relevant office experience and skills. Many office managers enter at office administrator level and work their way up with experience. Some employers will ask for a management qualification at office manager level.
If you're 16 or over and not in full-time education, there are opportunities to take an apprenticeship in business and administration at intermediate, advanced and higher levels. At higher level, you could train for a role as an office manager. NVQs/SVQs are available in business and administration.
You don't usually need a postgraduate qualification to become an office manager, but some graduates choose to do further study in a business-related field.
You'll need to have:
- excellent organisational and time-management skills
- knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and other commonly-used office packages
- strong IT and typing skills
- the ability to prioritise tasks and work under pressure
- good teamworking skills and the confidence to lead and motivate a team
- the ability to manage your workload and supervise others concurrently
- excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills
- attention to detail
- flexibility and adaptability to changing workloads
- a problem-solving approach to work
- project-management skills
- a familiarity with legislation in the areas of employment, equality and diversity and data protection - this is useful, but not essential.
Competition varies between employment sectors, but office manager positions usually attract many applications. Relevant office experience is vital. Opportunities are available through recruitment agencies or junior administrative posts.
It's also helpful to get experience that shows good teamworking and management skills. Taking on an extracurricular project or managing a team of volunteers is a good way of developing these skills, particularly if you haven't had the opportunity to apply them in a work environment.
Office managers are employed across the board in the public, private, and charity sectors. In short, they're employed by any organisation that runs an office, from small businesses to public bodies and multinational corporations.
Typical employers include:
- NHS and private healthcare organisations
- educational establishments, including schools and further and higher education institutions
- local and central government bodies
- charities and community groups
- financial services organisations
- legal firms
- social work organisations
- entertainment, creative, media and leisure industries
- engineering firms
- transport companies
- retailers, wholesalers and distributers
- manufacturers across all branches of industry
- science organisations
- security services
- public utilities - gas, electricity, water and telecommunications providers.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Jobs.ac.uk - for jobs in higher education.
- NHS Jobs - for jobs in hospitals and GP surgeries.
- Secretarial Jobs Board
- Simply Office Jobs
Training opportunities depend largely on your employer, although most employers offer at least basic training in, for example, their own databases and content management systems. Informal on-the-job training is also common.
Training is either carried out in-house (usually in larger organisations) or via external companies offering courses in areas such as:
- managing and leading teams
- recruitment and selection
- equality and diversity legislation
- health and safety
- stress management
- time management
In smaller companies, you're more likely to have to take the initiative and work out your own continuing professional development (CPD) needs. Courses are often paid for by the employer, but training budgets may be restricted.
Membership of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM) is useful and provides access to the latest news, events and discounts on training, as well as the opportunity to network with office managers and related staff.
If you don't already have an administration qualification, you may choose to study for a diploma, NVQ, HND or degree, in business, administration, or in a related area such as HR.
The IAM website details the range of qualifications offered by the institute, including the IQ IAM Level 4 Certificate in Office and Administration Management, which is uniquely targeted at office managers or aspiring office managers.
There are also opportunities to study office management or business at postgraduate level, for example by taking a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
The role of office manager isn't usually an entry-level position, and you'll typically have previous administrative or managerial experience, often in a related sector, before taking on the job.
Once you're in post and have some experience, you may take on extra responsibilities, such as managing more staff or taking on more senior management responsibilities.
Alternatively, you could manage a different office in the organisation, which has a larger workforce or carries more responsibility. For example, you may move from managing a small team in the finance section to managing the whole finance department.
After gaining more experience as an office manager, there may be opportunities to step up into senior management and progress further to head of department. Bottlenecks can occur for senior posts, particularly when there are several office managers within an organisation. Developing a specialist area, such as finance, human resources or strategic development, may help.