What is Office? Functions, Objectives, Importance

  • Post last modified:3 July 2021
  • Reading time:20 mins read

Office can be defined as any place where records are prepared, handled and preserved for future reference, and making them available as and when required.

According to J.C. Denyer, an office is a place where clerical operations are carried out. In other words, office means a place where the clerical work is done. But today the word office is used in broader sense; it refers to various functions performed by a certain group of persons.

An office is generally considered as a room/ a physical set up or other area where administrative work is done, but may also denote a position within an organization with specific duties attached to it.

Depending on the size of the business it may be either a small office or big office including massive buildings dedicated entirely to one non-commercial organization or a business organization. In modern terms an office usually refers to the location where white-collar workers (non-manual labour) are employed.


Office Definition

An office is the administrative center of a business. The purpose of an office has been defined as the providing of service of communication and recordMills & Standing Ford

An office is a place where business is transacted or professional service is availableRandom Hours Dictionary

The essential feature of the office is the work itself, not who does it or where it is done. If it is office or clerical work in one place, it is office or clerical work everywhere regardless of where the work is done or who does it -Leffingwell and Robinson


Functions of Office

The functions of a modern office may be classified into two categories, which are discussed as follows:

Primary Functions

The primary functions of an office are collecting, processing, storing and distributing information from one section to another. These functions are discussed as follows :

  1. Receiving Information
  2. Recording Information
  3. Arranging Information
  4. Giving information

Receiving Information

Information relating to office may be obtained from internal or external sources. Information can be received from internal sources like section departments, external sources like government departments, suppliers, other companies, clients etc. Information is received through letters, orders, invoices, telephone calls etc. from both internal and external sources.

Recording Information

The object of keeping records is to make information readily available to the management, whenever required. Records have to be maintained properly for all information obtained from internal and external sources.

Arranging Information

Information so gathered from various sources has to be supplied in the prescribed format like invoice, payroll, accounting statements, statistical statements etc.

Giving information

From the records maintained in the office, the required information in the form of instruction, orders, statistical and financial statements etc. are given to the management by the office manager.

Administrative Management Functions

  1. Communication
  2. Safety and Security
  3. Coordination
  4. Planning
  5. Systematization and Cost Reduction

Communication

Making arrangements for communication between different individuals within the organisation through an intercom facilities. meetings. etc. and between outsiders; and the organisation through personal contact, telephones, letters, etc., is an important function performed by the office.

Safety and Security

The office has to keep in safe custody the records of the organisation and also make arrangements for security of properties and assets of the enterprise e.g. buildings, office machines, furniture, equipment, etc. The office is not only responsible for the safety of assets but also for their upkeep and maintenance.

Coordination

Coordination implies an orderly arrangement of group efforts to , ensure unity of action in the realisation of common objectives. Office has to synchronize the efforts of individuals and departmental staff to ensure proper timing and sequence of activities so that the organisation objectives are fully realized.

Planning

Planning involves consideration of the factors influencing a situation and laying down a course of action leading to a particular goal. Effective performance of all office functions require advance planning.

Systematization and Cost Reduction

With the adoption of scientific method in office administration, office must lay down systems, procedures and methods of performing various activities. Besides designing the systems and methods, the existing systems should be reviewed and modified, if necessary.

Office Personnel Administration

An efficient office is an invaluable asset to any organization. Personnel employed in the office bring about efficiency of operation by the quality of their work.

Public Relations

In its dealings with members of the public, the office projects the image of the organization. Steps are required to be taken to build a good image of the organization in the minds of the general public.


Objectives of Office

The Key Objectives of Office are:

  • To plan the activities of office and ensure their execution: Generally, the office manager plans different activities of the various departments and accordingly it is implemented with the help of other employees.

  • To coordinate the activities of the various departments: Co-ordination is the act of organizing, making different people or things work together to achieve desired goals in an organization. It is essential in an office to coordinate various activities of different departments.

  • To preserve all the records of the business: An office needs to keep large amount of data in its data base. So it should have a proper record keeping system. It also needs to maintain books of accounts, registers, books of references, statutory and non-statutory registers, etc. for carrying out different activities.

Importance of Office

The office is of vital importance in a in modern business enterprise due to the following reasons:

  1. Office as a service centre
  2. Office as a memory centre
  3. Office as a channel of communication
  4. Office as a co-ordinator
  5. Office as a controller
  6. Office as a intermediary
  7. Importance of office to employees
  8. Importance of office to customers
  9. Importance to general public

Office as a service centre

Office provides the services of typing, duplicating, printing, providing information from records, supplying forms and stationery etc. No organisation can work smoothly without these services. Therefore, office is sometimes referred to as a service department.

Office as a memory centre

All types of information are arranged and preserved in the office and supplied to management as and when required. Various transactions and activities of the organisation which are on record are preserved by the office. Therefore, office may be described as the memory centre, information centre or brain of an organisation.

Office as a channel of communication

It is through the office that communication, especially written communication, takes place between different departments and different levels of the organisation. An organisation would fail, in spite of the best organisational resources, if the communication system is not effective.

Office as a co-ordinator

Office maintains links with all the departments of an organization and keeps every department informed about what is happening in other departments. Thus, it provides the basis of coordination between departments.

For example, office informs the production department about changing tastes and fashion in the market as revealed by the market survey conducted by marketing department. Similarly marketing department is supplied information about the cost of production to fix appropriate prices.

Office as a controller

Control is a necessary function of management executed through office. It requires (i) establishment of standards, (ii) measurement of performance against the standard (iii) ascertainment of deviation, and (iv)correction of deviations from standards and plans.

Office as a intermediary

The office maintains contact with outsiders and links the organisation with customers, suppliers, etc. It attends to the enquiries, orders and complaints, and maintains liaison between government and the organisation.

Importance of office to employees

Maintenance of attendance records, and preparation of wage and salary sheets for timely payment are the responsibility of the office. It is also responsible for operating different employee benefit schemes, like group insurance, provident fund, etc.

Importance of office to customers

The office acts as a link between the business and its customers. Enquiries, orders, and complaints of customers are taken care of by the office. It also advertises the products and their uses for information of the customers.

Importance to general public

The office also acts as a link between general public and the organisation. It is responsible for creating a good image for the organisation in the minds of people.


Types of office

The various types of office are as follows:

  1. Front Office
  2. Middle Office
  3. Electronic Office
  4. Virtual Office
  5. Back Office

Front Office

It is a business term that-refers to a company’s departments that come in contact with clients including the marketing, sales and service departments. The front office welcomes visitors, meets and greets them and handles their queries.

Middle Office

Middle office comprises departments of financial service that manage position keeping. These divisions ensure that transactions capture profit flows. The middle office is usually a part of operations division, which is also in-charge of settlement. Due to their critical role, middle office functions along with front office and is supervised by the back office managers.

Electronic Office

It was a term coined to cover the increasing use of computer-based information technology for office work, especially in the 1980s. it is widely used since all modern office are electronic offices.

Virtual Office

It is the combination off-site live communication and address services that allow users to reduce traditional office costs while maintaining business professionalism.

Virtual office implies space utilization, but a full application includes professional live communications of tele-conferencing.

Back Office

It is a part of most operations where tasks dedicated to operating the company are performed. The term comes from the building layout of early organizations where the front office would contain the sales and other customer facing staff and the back office would be those manufacturing or developing the products or involved in administration but without being seen by customers.

Although the operations of a back office usually not given a lot of consideration, their contribution to the business is significant. Examples of Back Office tasks include Accounting, Computerization of transact running (operation architecture), accounting and human supported by software and database.


Challenges before Office

In the contemporary business world office in our country faces challenges of different kinds-social, political, economical etc. Some of the challenges are stated below:

Mechanization

In the modern day, the office activity is becoming more and mechanized, says for example, sophisticated mechines, like computers. The challenge before the management lies is installing these machines with the cooperation of the employees and their maintenance and proper use.

Growth

Owners (shareholders) are in no longer in direct control of the business of a company form of business organization. The top management aims the business to grow even when expansion is not accompanied by adequate profits. However, growth is accompanied by adequate return to the shareholders of the company.

Statutes

Various laws concerning the management are being changed frequently to achieve the social and economic objectives. It is essential for the office of an organization to gear itself to face such changes. The problem lies on the office in running the enterprise without evading the various laws.

Recruitment of Staff

By the introduction of sophisticated machines, it is an important problem to attract better entrants and train them properly. There must be provision of proper incentive system and promotional opportunities.

Reduction of paperwork

The office should distinguish between essential and non-essential records. Some records may be essential. Such records may be retained and other non-essential records should be destroyed.


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