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A Brief History of Office Administration

June 4, 2014

Today’s offices offer their services to clients around the world as well as to the global online marketplace. An office without a skilled office administrator would be like a ship without a captain. Employees need structure and to be able to rely on various administrative structures in order to perform to the best of their abilities while keeping up with the challenging pace of business. To be successful as an office administrator, you’ll need specialized training, such as payroll training and accounting courses, as well as:

  • Good communications and coordination skills
  • A knack for managing your time well
  • The ability to learn new software to process documents
  • Be attentive to details
  • Be a people person
  • Show initiative
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Be able to juggle tasks and priorities
  • Be a team player!

Office administrators often work with to-do lists, adding or crossing out items as the day goes on. This system can be very satisfying, such as when crossing out all items from a list on a given day of work. Though an office administrator’s exact job description will change depending on the employer, his or her duties can include payroll tasks, adjusting the budget, producing reports, training staff members, or personnel decisions like conducting interviews or having to let someone go.

The office administrator’s position also allows them to interact in person with people at different levels of the company, from the lowly intern to the professional with medical office assistant training to important upper-level management. This means the office administrator will need to hear the suggestions and ideas of staff members on the office floor, yet understand and implement management’s priorities. Lastly, this type of position offers great possibilities for career advancement over time, as the office administrator will become familiar with many different roles in the company.

The office administrator, then and now

As the office workplace has evolved over time, so too has the role of the office administrator. At one time, even as recently as two or three decades ago, the duties related to administration and support went to secretaries, and though they possessed plenty of experience and a proven track record, they rarely advanced to a leadership position, instead being tasked with personal assistant duties like preparing coffee, scheduling meetings and bringing clothes to the dry cleaners.

Today’s office administrator, in comparison, is a dedicated professional whose expertise and skillset can allow him or her to stand out in the eyes of upper management. The role is now much more focused around improving office efficiency to generate higher revenues. The administrator is usually encouraged to be proactive and put in place new action plans that will ensure that the office runs smoothly at all times. In the end, office administrators are usually one of the most visible employees on the office floor. Their ideas, efforts and skills often determine the culture and tone of the entire company.

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