Sunday, May 12, 2013

Effectively Working Together in Smaller Offices

A two-person office can be just as intimidating as an office of 25 or more.  Smaller offices are required to do more with the resources given them and that includes empowering the few bodies available to accomplish the tasks. The bar of effectiveness and productivity is raised and the atmosphere can get intense.

The most important task is the ability to get along with each other and work as a team (short-handed team) to perform the business activities of the organization. Do you have to like each other? Of course, it would help, but we all know that there are some personalities that are hard to like. However, as an administrative professional, it is in our job description to remain professional. Here are 4 ways the small office can succeed:

1.       Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. Communication is top priority in any office and in a smaller office, with 2-4 people, communicating information, ideas, and thoughts are crucial. Relaying information frequently is essential to keeping an open and positive environment.  Information that is work-related is worth sharing with your colleagues.  Communication proves its importance when people are absent from the office. In a smaller group, when one or two people are gone, the need for knowing increases ten-fold.

How to keep communication at the forefront:
·         Tell your office roommates where you are going if you will be away - for those times visitors or callers are looking for that person, you will know when they will be back and whether they should be kept waiting, especially if it is someone who is expected or that $1,000,000 new account.
·         Update them on your progress of tasks or let them know what you are working on – remember, in a smaller work environment, all hands are on deck! Advising others of your progress will let them know how they need to proceed in the next steps.
·         Share information – this does not mean office gossip. Share information relevant to the work. After attending meetings, come back and share with the group. They will stay current on what’s going on in the company and you will provide useful information for all those involved.

2.      Create a personable environment.  A friendly atmosphere will inspire and motivate employees. The office will be more productive and employees will be less stressed. A place where employees can speak freely and respectfully fosters positive relationships. Also, a personable atmosphere will allow employees to be open and honest with their co-workers in time of need.

How to implement a personable environment
·         Hold “impromptu” meetings (casual chat sessions) – get to know more about your co-workers
·         Say “good morning” and “good night” – start the day on a positive note, even if you had a bad morning or end the day on a good note, even if you had a bad day. 
·         Lend a helping hand when needed- this is a team effort, when one team member needs help, be ready to aid and assist.

3.       Create a learning environment. The successful small office implements a learning environment for all employees. If you are a supervisor, share information you learned at a workshop or conference. Share details of the learning experience, people you networked with, questions and answers given during the session, and even add insight to the food served and the venue. If you are the employee, do the same and share what you learned at a workshop. You will be surprised at the knowledge you will gain just by listening to others experiences. Besides, the information you learn may be helpful to you in the future.

How to maintain a learning environment:
·         Attend workshops/conferences to build upon skills
·         Share info with office workers
·         Share your knowledge with others  

4.       Mentoring.  This is a complement to the learning environment. A small office is the perfect place to provide mentoring opportunities. Helping each other with projects, assisting co-workers with software, and providing suggestions and appropriate feedback would create a positive atmosphere for others grow with their departments. If you are a good writer, offer to proofread documents and make suggestions when necessary. Remember when offering suggestions tell them why you are making the suggestion – improving the learning environment.

How to foster mentoring:
·         Frequently offer constructive feedback
·         Share your related experiences
·         Ask for suggestions or recommendations when necessary

The small office can work as a “well-oiled machine” as long as all parts work together. Keeping the lines of communication open, maintaining a friendly atmosphere,  instilling a learning environment, and mentoring each other will keep the machine running smoothly.


EMAN HANNA said...

I loved your article. I liked how you explained the steps of being an administrative professional in a small office setting. I can definitely understand that because I do work in a small office with four people including my supervisor. Also, I agree that communication is the top priority needed because it leads to create a professional environment in small office settings. Moreover, all the steps that you mentioned that are related to each other’s staff relationship can be effective and useful to enhance the company’s goals. In this professional article, I believe that sharing personal feelings with co-workers about daily life make you feel like a united team with same designated goals.

Amber Larson said...


I enjoyed this article. I work in a small office as well and I loved the 4 way a small office can succeed.In my office we all work really well together and have good communication, but I'm going to introduce these 4 way to my office. I think it will make us an even better small office. great post thanks so much.

Dewoun Hayes said...

@Eman You are right! Great teams are built on communication and trust. Thanks for reading!

@Amber Thanks for using the tips! Keep me posted on the "great office" progress! #worklifecoach

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