The Technology and Tools Every Office Manager and Assistant Needs
Office managers, administrators, and assistants are known to be constantly busy. Wearing possibly every hat in existence is expected and has become the norm for you!
Having responsibilities throughout various areas requires a lot of multitasking, efficiency, productivity, time management, and patience. Luckily, technology can help you be more effective and less stressed!
Here are some of the tools and tech we recommend to help you in your juggling act and hopefully make work life a little easier.
Find out how to do more with less.
Our top pick: Microsoft Office 365
It's no secret we're huge Microsoft fans, and we love Office 365. Rather than choosing just one piece of software from it to feature as our top pick, we think the full suite gives the best productivity boost when used together.
OneNote allows you to take, classify, organize, and reference notes quickly. Then you can share and collaborate on those notes with your company using Teams. OneDrive stores all your files and allows you to access and work on them from anywhere. And we all know and love Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
Office 365 is licensed on a subscription basis, so you'll always have the latest version, updates, and cool new features without having to spend any extra time on your end. More time back for an office admin = 😁
Quick tip: spend time getting familiar with the software and make sure you're primed for success! Don't waste your money - set yourself up to take full advantage of the awesome tools you have access to. We've seen plenty of people pay for Office 365 and then only use Word!
Escape 2 by Focuslist - This app for macOS and iOS tracks how much time you spend on various different websites and programs. You can set quota goals for common distractions like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Escape will track how much time you spend on these and remind you of your goals. If you're the type of person who gets distracted often, this is a great way to break those habits and ensure you're spending your time on more productive activities.
Accompany - As an office admin, manager, or assistant, you're probably tasked often with researching different companies and prospects. This can eat away a lot of time. Accompany keeps a comprehensive database of the people in different organizations. You can quickly see who the decision makers are, details about them, and be notified of changes in their work. This makes it easy to quickly deliver reports to your team and build relationships with key prospects.
RescueTime - This software "tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day" and "gives you detailed reports and data based on your activity". If you've ever gotten to the end of the week and wondered where the heck all your time went, this program is for you. It also has the ability to set up alerts, block distracting websites, and log accomplishments to help you maximize your time.
IFTTT - Short for "If This, Then That" IFTTT aims to connect apps, devices, and services from different developers. Actions are automatically triggered by other actions you decide - for example, you can create a rule where your arrival and departure time from your office are automatically logged in Google Calendar via your phone's location services. You can set the coffee maker to start brewing as soon as your phone registers that you're in the office. There is an insane amount of connections that can be built for almost any possibility imaginable. Nearly every piece of technology can be connected to others using IFTTT. This can save you and your boss tons of time throughout the week by automating repetitive tasks.
So much to do, so little time - tools to help you stay on track and focused.
Our top pick: Process Street
Much of the work managers and admins do is repetitive. You're constantly asked how to do this thing, what's the process for that, what's our procedure for handling this? Process Street lets you create easy-to-manage and use checklists and process lists.
It can be used for just about anything that has to get done more than once, such as onboarding procedures, troubleshooting steps, new client setup, invoice generation, candidate screening, and daily tasks. Instead of trying to remember the steps to everything yourself and communicate it over and over again, just use Process Street.
Workflowy - "Helps you break big ideas into manageable pieces, then focus on one piece at a time". This application is great for people who have lots to accomplish and can get overwhelmed with all the details needed to reach those goals. Workflowy makes projects and tasks far more manageable and ensures you're not missing any important details.
Todoist - To-do lists for the modern age! This clean, straightforward program helps you "easily organize and prioritize your tasks and projects so you'll always know exactly what to work on next". You can map out projects and goals, highlight what's important, and measure progress, with reminders to ensure you never let anything slip through the cracks.
Asana - Asana is a project and work management tool that caters to visual workers. It helps you "plan and structure work in a way that's best for you, set priorities and deadlines, share details and assign tasks, follow projects and tasks through every stage, and create visual project plans to see how every step maps out over time". It makes structuring projects much easier and allows teams to collaborate and hold each other accountable.
Trello - Very similar to Asana, Trello is another project and work management option for the person who loves visual organization.
Harvest - A time-tracking application that allows you to easily track, manage, plan, and optimize your team's time on projects. Harvest also integrates with other popular software like Trello and Asana to get maximum visibility and organization for your work.
Communication can make or break a company - make sure every interaction with employees and clients is a positive one.
Our top pick: RingCentral
RingCentral is "the leading all-in-one phone, team messaging, and video conferencing solution". Many business phone platforms only offer calls, but RingCentral wants to make it easy to keep all your company communication organized and manageable.
It's very reasonably priced with options for both small business and enterprise. The combo of video calling, conference calling, call recording, faxing, and collaboration tools makes this a must-have for any office.
Grammarly - "Makes sure everything you type is clear, effective, and mistake-free". Grammarly is a Google Chrome extension that helps you write better, no matter what you're working on. It can detect and help correct spelling and grammar issues whether you're in your email, on Facebook, or writing a blog. When you don't have much time to spare, proofreading every communication can take a big chunk out of it, and Grammarly is a great solution.
Hemingway App - Similar to Grammarly, Hemingway helps you communicate more effectively in your writing. It will highlight areas for improvement related to spelling, grammar, sentence length, reading level, and more.
Zoom - There are many video conferencing applications out there, but we like Zoom for its broad functionality, ease of use, consistency, and reasonable price tag. Zoom offers support for video meetings, webinars, virtual conference rooms, and business messaging with a wide array of options depending on your needs.
TeamViewer - "TeamViewer allows you to remotely access and control the desktop of your computers and servers from anywhere". This can be used for a range of purposes, but for the busy office manager or assistant who is always being asked to help someone with something on their computer, TeamViewer is a great solution. You don't have to leave where you are, you can simply log into their computer from anywhere to troubleshoot a problem, demonstrate an idea, or assist in tracking down a needed file.
Beekeeper - "Optimized for non-desk workers, Beekeeper’s digital workplace app integrates multiple operational systems and communication channels in one secure hub that is accessible from desktop and mobile devices". Beekeeper can work for any organization, but it's especially great to keep large or distributed teams in sync. Offers company information and update streams, chats, user directories, notifications, policy and information repositories, and more.
OFFICE AND PEOPLE MANAGEMENT
It takes a lot to keep an entire team motivated, happy, and taken care of.
Our top pick: Hubstaff
A well-designed, comprehensive tool to help you manage your workforce. Keeps time tracking and optimization, invoicing, payroll, scheduling, tracking, task management, and monitoring all under one roof. Also integrates with nearly every other tool to keep things synced.
When we asked our friend Dan Kurtz of Marketing Arsenal Podcast what software he couldn't live without for his business, he agreed, "Hubstaff, bar none. Integrates with Trello, Basecamp, github, Asana, Jira, and a ton of other things. Plus, employee screenshots, time allocation (for team slackers), billing, invoicing, etc. Kind of an all in one data-driven management tool for bosses."
When I Work - Helps you "build the work schedule in minutes". Allows you to quickly schedule your team, distribute the schedule, and manage availability. Your team can swap shifts without any hassle and handle availability changes instantly.
Travitor - A unique learning platform that lets you quickly build and manage internal courses. Great for onboarding, ongoing training, and knowledge checks for your team.
Bitrix24 - Another great all-in-one tool for managing business needs. Contains tools for communication, task and project management, contact relationship management, customer support, human resources, and website management. Also has a marketplace full of apps to add additional functionality if desired.
Envoy - It's easy to get sidetracked in a busy office when you have visitors and packages arriving often. Envoy helps to streamline this process by giving you an efficient way to manage visitor, delivery, and your team's comings and goings. Guests can check in on an iPad with the software and the appropriate parties will be notified of their arrival. Same thing with packages! Compliance and security get a boost as well with record-keeping and badging.
TravelPerk - If you're responsible for organizing business travel, TravelPerk will be your best friend. You can book, manage, and report on travel all in one place. But best of all, you can set up company travel policies and limits, and then let your team book necessary travel themselves without having to manage it. TravelPerk allows you to book flights, trains, and accommodations including AirBnB under one platform.
Expensify - "From receipt scanning to reimbursement, Expensify automates every step of the expense reporting process". Nobody enjoys putting together expense reports! But Expensify makes it a lot easier. It also integrates with HR, travel, tax, and practice management software to make your workflow smoother all around.
Stay up-to-date on the latest trends, tools, and insight about your career,
Our top pick: edX
Unique in that all of their courses come from universities and organizations such as Harvard, MIT, and Microsoft. While you can choose to just take courses that interest you, edX also offers accredited university, master's, and professional degree tracks.
Another unique feature is edX for business, where they provide "high-quality courses from the world's best universities and institutions...to enterprises looking for a scalable and cost effective solution to training their employees". Business subjects available include supply chain management, communication, innovation, management, agile planning, product design, leadership, finance, economics, and security.
SkillShare - SkillShare offers accessible, online classes for just about any topic you could imagine. Business classes that managers and admins may love include leadership, finance, management, productivity, human resources, and analytics. Downloading their app allows you to take classes with you, and each course includes a project that lets you put your new skills into practice.
Alison - A great site for both casual and serious learners, Alison has free and paid courses in a huge range of topics. They offer both certificate and diploma courses depending on your need. Business courses that may come in handy for you are readily available - typing, project management, human resources, customer service, accounting, workplace health and safety, and time management are just a few of many options.
MediaBistro - Another site with a wide range of classes in a ton of topics. Membership is $14.99/month and allows unlimited course access. Your membership also comes with some perks like discounts to industry resources and events, a free LinkedIn evaluation, freelance tools, and 10% off resume services. Courses cover digital marketing, writing, publishing, social media, editing, design, public relations, and journalism, making MediaBistro the best choice for admins who are responsible for these areas.
TED - Most everyone has heard a TED talk by now! TED brings in experts and speakers on a huge range of topics. Speakers often have a unique perspective and can help you think about things in completely new ways. Great to have on while you're working, eating lunch, or driving to an appointment to keep your gears turning!
A comfortable, inclusive atmosphere can make all the difference in a hectic office.
Our top pick: Zumtobel
Did you know that lighting has a direct effect on well-being, mood, and productivity? Zumtobel is one of the most well-known companies offering unique lighting solutions. They can help you design the perfect lights for every area in your office based on what you'd like to accomplish and how you want your team and guests to feel. Ditch the harsh fluorescent office lights once and for all!
SoundEar - This piece of hardware visualizes noise levels in an area through green, yellow, and red lights. With the rise of the open-office plan, keeping noise and distractions to a minimum is important for your team's productivity and happiness. With SoundEar, you're not simply relying on Jane's complaints that a coworker is too loud! It reminds others to be considerate and is a diplomatic way to hold people accountable.
Noisli - This site allows you to mix and match a range of ambient sounds to create your perfect environment, improve focus, and boost productivity. Sound profiles include rain, wind, coffee shop, campfire, forest, and white noise.
Comfy - Comfy is an app that allows you to make sure your team is happy, comfortable, and productive. It helps you control everything in the office from desired temperature to lighting to work requests. Instead of employees coming to you personally, they can simply use the app to save everyone time. It also provides insight and analytics to help improve overall conditions and workspace utilization.
SnackNation - Provides regular shipments of healthy snacks for your office. We're adding this under Environment because we think unique, nutritious snacks will improve the mood at any business! Their prices come to about 40% less than purchasing the items at retail, snacks rotate frequently to keep things exciting, and it's obviously way more convenient than weekly runs to the supermarket.
Feeling our best means living and working our best.
Our top pick: Lifesum
Lifesum is a health app that offers "personalized diet plans, nutrition advice, and healthy recipes" along with a food diary, calorie counter, goal and activity trackers, and support. It's truly a one-stop-shop for improving your health. While many apps offer a few of these features, Lifesum combines them all and more into one convenient and cheap piece. It also integrates with many other health wearables and apps.
MyFitnessPal - One of the most widely-known health apps, MyFitnessPal lets you log your dietary and fitness activities easily. It also offers a supportive community, challenges, nutrition advice, recipes, goal setting, and advanced food tracking.
Headspace - Headspace aims to help you "live a happier, healthier life with just a few minutes of meditation a day". For those looking to get into meditation and mindfulness, or who just want to be a little less stressed, Headspace is a non-intimidating way to begin. The interface is well-designed and pleasing to look at, and there are options for every experience level.
F.lux - A lightweight program that lives on your computer, F.lux allows you to adjust the lighting of your computer screens. It can also be set to adjust automatically throughout the day with optimum lighting based on the time. Research has shown that the blue light emanating from our screens interferes with our sleep and causes eye strain. When you spend 8+ hours a day on a computer, this application is a must have.
Amwell - Most of us hate going to the doctor's office, especially for minor concerns. Amwell provides virtual doctor visits via your phone. This makes it quick and convenient to get medical care from wherever you are.
Calm - Another meditation app, Calm also provides "Sleep Stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music". It offers a wide variety of options for any experience level and goal.
C25K - Short for Couch to 5K, this is a mobile app that gradually helps you progress from nothing to completing a 5K run.
Fooducate - Fooducate doesn't just focus on what you eat, but the actual quality of your calorie intake. Your body will use 200 calories of ice cream in a completely different way than 200 calories of chicken, and this app wants to make you more aware of what you're consuming and how it affects your health. It already has ratings for thousands of popular products, so you can quickly see if you're making smart choices.