The Office Manager's Nightmare
His impeccable internal clock wakes him up two minutes before his alarm does. He lies in bed contemplating the day ahead and starts to drift off into the abyss again. Just then his clock begins to ring. Right on schedule. He engages himself in the eternal struggle of 'to snooze or not to snooze' as the most irksome sound in the world fills his room. The struggle is short-lived this morning as he silences the rhythmic blaring with one swift motion and pulls the covers over his head. The world is at peace again. At least it is, for the next 9 minutes.
Multiple snoozes, a swift shower and a hasty breakfast later, he inches his way through the unforgiving traffic feeling his nerves tighten with every passing minute. As unremarkable as his day has been so far, he can't shake the feeling that this is just going to be one of those days. A day where Murphy's Law is proven to him time and time again till he's begging the stars for some reprieve from it all. He shakes the unwelcome trepidation off and drives into his designated parking spot, carefully optimistic about the day.
He is the office manager at a small startup in one of the thriving metropolises in India. He handles everything from dealing with vendors and payroll to being the face of the company to both clients and staff. Although the term 'unsung hero' might strike him as over dramatic to describe his role at the company, he is nonetheless crucial to the day-to-day functioning of the office.
He barely swings open the glass doors at the small office complex that houses his company when he is greeted by the first problem of the day. A small crowd has already formed around the empty coffee machine in the corner pantry. He studiously avoids their glares as he makes his way to his desk to make his first set of calls of the day. After what seems like an eternity, during which he has memorized the coffee vendor's hello-tune, he manages a quick conversation with the man who promises to restock the machine as soon as possible.
He then turns his attention to the obscenely large number of 'urgent' emails that require his immediate attention. He barely manages to open up his browser when he spots the gaggle of eager looking interns clustered around a desk. How could he forget orientation day? A couple of hours later, after fielding multiple and often comical questions, he manages to brief them and set each of them a few simple tasks for the day. He scrawls down a quick note to himself to follow-up with them on a post-it and adds it to the plethora of existing to-do's peppering his cubicle wall.
Back to the emails.. He begins his carefully orchestrated set of steps to deal with vendor requests, staff queries and reports for the CEO. He barely makes it into the first few emails when the dreaded t-rex game pops up on his google chrome browser. While this might constitute a few welcome minutes of distraction for your average office worker, for him it is an omen of the worst kind. Proof that the universe is a cruel place. The office Wi-Fi is down..
He makes his way to the router and switches it off for a few seconds hoping against hope that the issue fixes itself. Of course it's never that simple. Defeated, he trudges back to his desk and quickly scans through his list of logins and passwords and begins the loathsome task of resetting the router just as the flood of frustrated messages and calls start pouring in from his co-workers. He speeds through this latest inconvenience and has the internet back up and running in a few minutes. He spares the router one last glare, as if daring it to glitch out on him again and reloads his inbox.
Once he's made a tiny dent in his emails, he gets a jump on his other tasks including paying bills and managing payrolls, hoping against hope to get through it without another interruption. As he sifts through the mountain of paperwork, the throbbing in his head that has been threatening to manifest itself as a headache forces him to step away from his desk for a well-deserved break. He heads over to the pantry to grab a quick bite. As he settles into his cup-of-soup, his well-trained office manager eye makes a note of the amount of coffee, sugar, snacks and water available. He performs a quick calculation in his mind and pulls out his phone to make the necessary calls to re-stock the essentials. After all, a well-fed office is a happy office. And he cannot settle for anything less.
He does a quick check on the new interns who, thankfully, have made some progress. Fantasizing about quitting time, he heads back to his desk to continue chipping away at the pile of paperwork that seems to have permanently taken up residence there. Before he makes it though he spies another small crowd forming. What fresh hell is this? The answer hits him a split-second later. The copy machine. The wretched old thing has been the bane of his existence since his very first day. He shoulders his way through the crowd and performs a quick inspection of the machine. The pestilential beeping aggravates his headache a little more but he manages to temporarily fix the problem. Damn paper tray. He lodges a complaint with the maintenance company even before he makes it back to his desk.
The hours soon meld together in a blur of numbers, excel sheets, phone calls and emails. Bleary-eyed and now nursing a full-blown headache, he looks up at the clock. His shoulders slump with visible relief. His day is almost over. He starts tying up loose ends and adding to the list of to-dos for tomorrow. A few final checks and he's done. Time for one last glance at his inbox. He frowns as he sees a new email from the CEO. He has requested a meeting with the senior team in half an hour in the conference room. He sighs. What he wouldn't give to be one of the interns packing up their work stations. He didn't begrudge them for long. He worked hard to get to be a part of the senior team. If only that translated into a magic cure for migraines every once in a while.. Is that too much to ask?
Half an hour later he finds himself in the conference room surrounded by the CEO's chosen few. The man himself arrives soon after and begins running through his checklist of status reports. Marketing, operations, financials.. As he steps up to share his updates the CEO smiles. Before he could get two words out the CEO cuts him off with a pat on the back. He praises him for his dedication to his job as office manager and how he has always made the company proud with his diligence and hard work. Now slightly red around the ears, the office manager wonders where on earth he is going with this sudden and unexpected barrage of kindness.
20 minutes later he is once again stuck in traffic but this time his nerves are slacker than they have been in a long time. He keeps going over the last hour in his mind. Did that really just happen? After the CEO had thrown him an 'Atta boy' in front of his colleagues, he announced that he would be shifting all major operations from the office park to a Coworking Space.
He was familiar with this new concept that was taking the startup world by storm. He was aware of the growing number of small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers championing this innovative take on the work space. These spaces provided a unique opportunity for startups by providing opportunities for collaboration and networking along with relieving them of the operational costs of running an office. He had never dreamed the impact this would have on his company and on his job in particular.
His CEO had explained that this move would help them streamline business activities and expenses and help them focus on their number one priority - the customer. The space would facilitate all of the day-to-day needs of the office including amenities, maintenance and vendor relations. Basically half of the office manager's responsibilities. The CEO offered him the opportunity to focus his attention instead to the department of his choice. Marketing, branding, finance, customer relations, he had his pick of new responsibilities and job functions. He smirked at the crimson glow of the traffic light in front of him. Maybe he would pick something less stressful this time around. Maybe alligator wrestling..
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