The Real Driver Behind Office Productivity

Sarah Quirk
June 18, 2019

The future of work has been a hot topic in recent years. Companies are grappling with how to increase productivity and improve retention levels, turning to automation, swanky office interiors, and employee perks to create the ideal working environment and maximize efficiency.

Chatbots, in-office meditation, and conference room design aside, there is one straightforward and proven way to help workers achieve higher levels of productivity: empower your office manager.

The domino effect of distraction

Why is the office manager so important? Well, the responsibilities they assume free up their colleagues to focus on the job they were hired to do. Office managers are critical time-savers, ensuring engineers aren’t attempting to fix dishwashers and marketing managers aren’t greeting people at the reception desk.

An AtTask survey conducted by Harris Poll found that among enterprise companies of 1,000 people or more, the average employee spends only 45% of their time on their primary job function. The rest of their time is consumed by emails, meetings, administrative tasks, and interruptions. Additional research by the Harvard Business Review indicates that office workers spend a great deal of their time — an average of 41% — on discretionary tasks that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled capably by others.

That same Harvard Business Review study proved that simply delegating or outsourcing lower priority tasks would make us more productive. When workers were able to choose which responsibilities they wanted to keep based on what mattered most to them and their organization, they were able to free up one-fifth of their time to concentrate on higher-value work.

Taking off some hats

Office managers are often accountable for an office’s share of administrative tasks, but as responsibilities pile up on their plate, they could use a productivity boost themselves. In a recent survey of Managed by Q clients, we found that office managers enjoy improving office processes, planning office events, booking office services, and supporting the Human Resources department. However, they are equally responsible for several other tasks that could be delegated or outsourced, such as organizing the office, reception, file management, and receiving packages.

If we view this through the lens of the Harvard Business Review study, outsourcing certain administrative duties would vastly improve the typical office manager’s ability to provide HR support, bolster office processes, and plan events. And in turn, with increased office manager bandwidth, other employees can shed office management or HR responsibilities that are not necessary to their job function.


The Q platform was developed to continue this ripple effect of productivity, and provide office managers complementary technology to optimize their efficiency. Office managers can delegate daytime reception duties to full-time receptionists, or assign office repair work to the proper specialized service providers, like professional plumbers and electricians. In the case of maintenance and IT work, for example, hiring people to do tasks the right way the first time can save significant time and financial resources. We view this support of the office manager as an extension of our mission to empower all workers.

Celebrating your office team

Q created Office Manager Appreciation Week in 2016 to acknowledge the behind-the-scenes work of office managers and administrative professionals. The contribution these professionals make to the modern workplace are just as critical as the development of new, productivity-enhancing technologies, such as Q’s platform.

This year, we encouraged employees to recognize their office managers and other office team members by sending them customizable thank you cards. We’ve already seen an outpouring of appreciation in office managers’ inboxes in cities across the country.


This Administrative Professional’s Day, we encourage you to support your office managers, administrative assistants, and executive assistants. Join us in thanking the people who make your work possible!

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