Whether you’re a one-person team or a full-fledged company, having office procedures and guidelines is a great way to establish some ground rules for your business. This not only helps you with day-to-day tasks, but it can also aid your new hires when they get started and your established employees when they need to check on administrative matters.
Establishing Guidelines and Making Them Accessible
Creating a manual for the 21st century office is a great place to start. The office manual should include processes and procedures for important aspects of your business and should mention any notable points from federal, state and local employment laws. Include information on leave policies, non-discriminatory policies and workers' compensation.
This is also where you can include your company mission, vision and core values. These help everyone in the business stay on track and work toward the same goal. It can include guidelines for employee behavior, dress code, smoking, office hours, pay, promotions and benefits. Make your handbook accessible to every employee by offering it both online and in print. Give a copy all employees and ask them to sign a confirmation letter saying that they have read the guidelines and understand them.
Taking Note of Technology in the 21st Century Office
In a 21st century office, it’s important to integrate technology into your guidelines. Regardless of the industry in which you work, technology plays an important role in office procedures. Many things are done on computers and smartphones. Decide if your company allows the use of office technology for personal reasons and what your security measures are. Are employees allowed to use their phones while they work? By establishing such rules, you’ll be able to clear up any disagreements before they happen.
Creating Guidelines for Each Role or Department
Depending on your business, you may choose to establish procedures for each department or each role in the company. For example, if you have a manufacturing department, their procedures will undoubtedly be different from your sales department and your marketing department. By writing down day-to-day procedures for each area of your business, you’ll help onboard new employees more quickly and will be able to guide seasoned staff when they forget how to do a certain task. Having a place of reference also helps you keep track of everything in your business. Some offices that have multiple tiers of staff may choose to include an organizational chart so everyone is aware of what their role is within the bigger picture of the company.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
Your guidelines can be updated whenever a new important element needs to be included. They do not need to be set in stone. Ensure you’re communicating with your staff on a regular basis when you add anything to the office procedures or your office manual. In addition, all of your office practices should be easily accessible. Make sure your staff knows where they can turn for help if they have a question regarding vacation time, cell phone use, workers' compensation or any other modern office practice.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.