Operations managers have shifted from juggling a small handful of workspaces to managing employees spread across hundreds of locations. It’s a trendline we’ve been seeing for some time. But as office operations grow more complex, it’s important for managers on the back end to pause and reassess—not just their operational models and workflows, but also how they think about their jobs.
So what is back-office operations’ role in figuring it all out? For those of you making the workplace run behind the scenes, there’s plenty you can do. Here are five ways you can help make a positive impact across your organization.
1. Plan ahead
You know where you’ve been and where you are. But where are you going? “As you think through solutions, you need to think 3-5 years ahead to make sure your solution aligns with your expectations of your future workforce,” advises Mike Botti, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Pitney Bowes. That’s true both in how you organize your workplace setups—whether fully remote, partly remote or in-office—as well as for your organization’s projected growth. “No company wants to think of themselves as forever 100 employees, so identify solutions that can grow with you as your business grows,” Botti emphasizes.
2. Rethink efficiency
Efficiency is often the biggest priority when you’re managing a workplace, but you may need to think broader. “Efficiency is more than just a cost measure or a time measure,” Botti says. “It’s about creating better outcomes for the business.” That can take a few different forms, expanded growth and revenue as well as increased customer and employee satisfaction among them.
So how do you drive better outcomes? Start with smarter work processes. When you’re thinking through workplace solutions, look for those that are scalable, can work across a wide number of locations and users, and are easy to install and get running. Remote workers, for instance, are their own first line of IT support. If the solution is too complicated, they won’t adopt it. Also consider ways to facilitate equipment and asset movement between your remote and in-office workers, whether that’s including self-labeled return boxes, automated tracking solutions or setting up smart lockers for 24/7 pickups.
3. Build relationships
With so many working remotely, it’s important to build connections with your employees and clients so you can be sure they’re satisfied and have the tools to do their jobs effectively. “In a lot of ways, operations managers are running a business, and their customers are the employees in the company,” Botti says. So make sure you’re getting the feedback you need to support them! Ask for input regularly to ensure every employee has the right tools to do their job and is feeling heard and valued.
4. Stay curious
The work world is moving a lot faster these days, which makes curiosity and creativity essential. “If you aren’t proactively looking at ways to do things better, you’ll get left behind,” Botti advises. Don’t be afraid to tinker with a process or replace a tool if you can see that it’s not working. And if you have a view across multiple departments, use that to your advantage. Are there best practices that people in a similar role are using that you should consider? What about tools that break down silos and build efficiencies? Use your inquisitiveness to find new ways to do things that are proven to work better both inside and outside your company.
5. Show that you care
Managers are in a unique role. They’re able to bring a tangible human touch in a world where it’s often lacking, and to ensure safe protocols are in place for the times workers do get together. Sending a care package to your remote team, whether that’s snacks or swag or their favorite coffee, helps bring the physical back to a mostly digital world. It’s a little reminder that we’re part of a team, no matter where you set your laptop.