In an office environment, everyone is responsible for accomplishing specific tasks that generally require training. But, knowing how to accomplish basic tasks in the workplace that everyone is responsible for is important and will help you get your job done more efficiently. However, employers don’t always spend a lot of time training new employees on the processes and procedures for common office tasks. No matter your position at your job, learning basic office chores like making copies and filing documents is essential to your work. Basic office responsibilities may seem simple, but every company differs in the way they answer the phone to the way they distribute office mail. If you’re already in the workforce or soon will be, the following are basic information you should know about general office tasks.
Electronics. Almost every office uses various types of electronics. Whether it’s a photocopier, fax machine, or printer, be sure to find out how to use the equipment in your office. Learn how to add paper and fix basic paper jams. If your office uses one, know the code required for your photocopier or fax machine. Have a supervisor or co-worker teach you how to use the office equipment to help you avoid lost productivity and the frustration you feel when you can’t make the quick copy you need. Since administrative assistants perform tasks like these on a daily basis, they can be a great resource when you have questions about equipment in your office.
Timecards. Timecards are used in most office environments, and it’s very important to know how to fill them out correctly. So, when you start a new job, make sure you learn the right way to complete your timecard. Find out the deadline to submit timecards and who to submit them to. If your office submits timecards online, make sure you add the website to your list of favorites and keep the correct login information on file.
Filing systems. Filing systems are methods of storing and organizing files and their data in an office. Every business and employee has different methods and systems for filing information. While you may be allowed to organize your files to your preference, other documents in your office like legal papers and contracts should be filed according to company standards. Some businesses use job jackets, hanging file folders, notebooks, specific computer programs, or a combination of filing systems to file important documents, so make sure you follow your company’s system when filing information digitally and in print.
E-mail and meeting management tools. Computer software like Microsoft Outlook a very useful tool to help you manage your e-mail and meeting appointments. If you’re not familiar with your team’s e-mail management system, check out the software's free tutorials to learn the ends and outs for the program. You could even learn a few tricks like flagging e-mails or scheduling tasks to utilize this tool to its full potential. But, whatever software you use to manage your e-mail, if you don’t purge your e-mail inbox on a regular basis, it can get clustered fast. Be sure to keep your inbox clean and perform regular maintenance. Also, follow the company’s policies on using company e-mail and other electronic communication devices.
Office phones. As simple as using a phone may be, office phones may have a lot of buttons that can be a little tricky at times. Get a list of the different codes and extensions for co-workers so you can reference them when needed. Also, make sure you know how to transfer a call, place a call on hold, and join conference calls. Find out how to program your voicemail. Learn the phone protocol for leaving the office at lunch or for a meeting. Be sure you know the proper phone etiquette your office requires when answering a call.
The mail system. Since you may occasionally have to send out mail, make sure you’re aware of your team’s mailing procedures for regular business mail, shipping services like FedEx and UPS, and inter-office mail. Some businesses assign individuals to pick up and deliver mail from department inboxes. Or, you may have to take items to be shipped directly to the mail room. Find out where the mail room is located and where you can get supplies like shipping boxes, business and inter-office envelopes, and shipping tape so you don’t waste time looking for them when you need to get something in the mail fast.
Ordering office supplies. Most offices have a policy for ordering supplies, so find out how to request the supplies you need and when they submit orders so you don’t have to do without your much needed Post-it notes or white out. Some companies only provide certain items so make sure you ask what supplies you’ll be able to access. Also, make sure you know who’s responsible for ordering.
Remember, all offices differ in one way or another and the best time to ask questions about basic tasks is when you’re still new to the job. Don’t sit back in your chair waiting for someone to teach you how to make copies, take the initiative and learn how to make them now. Then, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever projects come your way.