What is an office?
What is an office? Possible answers are as follow.
- An office is a room where lots of people work.
- An office is a room where people work with computer and lots of paper.
- An office is a place where information is exchanged between different businesses.
- An office is a place in a large building which is full of people working.
- An office is a place which is used to carry out business transactions. It is the center of every organization where information is received, stored, and retrieved. It is the central communication point where business and colleagues exchange information. It is therefore a Centre for information and administration.
It is important to understand that there are many kinds of offices.
- Are all office rooms where lots of people work? Probably not. Some offices are only large enough for one or two people, other many house nine or ten people. An office many therefore have any number of people working in it.
- Do people working in office only use typewriters, computer, and lots of paper? This is again unlikely. There are many types of equipment to be found and used in offices. For example, filing cabinets, printers, in-trays and so on.
- Is information only exchanged between different business in office? Once again, this is very unlikely. Information may be exchanged between one business and another, but also between employees working in the same organization.
- Is an office always in a large building? Office building can be of varying sizes. They may be large enough for a thousand people, or they may be so small that there is only room for five or six people. An office (and its building) may therefore be of any size.
What happens in an office?
As we have already mentioned, an office is where information is received, stored, and retrieved. This is one of the main things that happens in the office. When information arrives in the office, it needs to be dealt with. This might involve circulating information around the office so that everyone is made aware of it, or it might involve processing the information, for example a purchase invoice will need to be paid.
Information which has been received may need to be stored if it is important. It is not a good idea to just store information in a box labeled ‘information’ since it would be very difficult to lay hands on a specific item in the future.
The main office functions
- Storing and retrieving information
- Distributing information
- Processing information(produce)
- Receiving information
- Recording information
- Exchanging and communicating information.
It is therefore essential that an office stores information in an orderly manner. Indexing, cross-referencing and classifying are ways of storing information so that you can always find what you are looking for. How is information exchanged in the office? Information exchanged by a process known as communication. Communication is a very important part of office life, since without it, no one would know what was going on!
- Office Structure
Most office are not the same, but we can talk about a typical office when we are discussing the structure of an office. An office needs to have a structure if it is going to be organized.
- The need for organization
Some businesses are much larger than others, all businesses, whatever their size, need to have some sort of organization. With an organization of say 5,000 employees, it is hard to make it function properly if no one know who does what, what they are responsible for, or how decision is taken. The employees of the organization need to be directed. Many large organization are headed by a person or a committee who is responsible for the direction the organization takes and for its policies and strategies (what to sell and where to sell it). An individual doing this job is called the Chief Executing or the Managing Director. A committee is called the Board of Directors.
- Grouping people and activities
Most organization are divided up into a number of departments, each of which is headed up by a manager who is responsible for his or her own department. Each manager will the report to the managing Director of the organization. An organization may have any number of departments. We have called them A, B, C, D,E and F for ease but typical departments are: personnel, sales and marketing, purchasing, administration, accounts, and legal.
- The personnel department
The personnel department is primarily concerned with the people who make up the workforce of an organization. The department is also responsible for advertising job vacancies, staff training, and staff welfare, dealing with resignations and dismissal, and so on.
- Sales and marketing department
This is a very important department, since without sales a company does not have any income. The sales ad marketing department is also involved with finding out what the public want by way of new products (market research) and advertising current products in order to increase sales. The sales division is involved with making sales, and the customer services division deals with any problems or queries which customers raise.
- Purchasing department
This department is generally headed by the chief buyer, who has a number of staffs working for him who buy the materials and equipment that an organization needs. The purchasing department also has responsibility for the materials and equipment which are not currently being utilized but which are held in stock. This is known as stock control.
- The administration department
This department is generally responsible for office services, such as typing, distributing mail, and photocopying, welcoming visitors and so on. There is likely to be an administration manager for overall supervision of the department, and also a supervisor who is responsible for each of the different office services in the department.
- The accounts department
The chief accountant is generally responsible for the accounts department. Sales invoices are raised and sent to customers and purchase invoices are received and paid in this department. The accounts department stores all the financial records, and at the end of each financial year, prepares financial statements which are independently reviewed by auditors. The payroll function usually takes place within the accounts departments also.
- The legal department
This department is responsible for making sure that an organization does not break the law!