Currently the co-founder and CFO of TheSquareFoot, Aron Susman began his career in the International Mergers & Acquisitions group at Deloitte in Houston. Most recently a Vice President with MDTech, a healthcare technology company, Aron oversaw the company's financial, accounting, and business development efforts. He graduated cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a masters degree in accounting and holds a CPA license.
How much is your time worth to you? As a founder and CFO, I value my time immensely, but as is inevitable in the startup world I often find myself performing duties that aren't the best use of my time. When TheSquareFoot went through the typical motions of a young a company -- hiring employees, growing out of a home office and into our own space, moving into a bigger space and hiring more employees -- we realized that our core team was spending too much time performing office tasks.
As our team got bigger, more issues arose that either I or one of the other founders would have to handle. I was the one scheduling and managing maintenance, stocking our supplies, and setting up all the incoming furniture and accessories. I knew I shouldn't have to be ordering supplies and assembling furniture. I knew we needed an office manager. Here are three sure signs that you need one, too.
You Consistently Run Out of Supplies
An office manager's duties will vary by company, ranging from payroll to hiring, but in nearly every office manager role, supply management is one of the key tasks. Your company must have the tools and amenities to keep employees going, but if you find that every week you're re-ordering those supplies, it may be time to consider hiring an office manager to take over. As a founder, I didn't want to spend hours worrying about and ordering coffee cups, utensils, snacks, paper products, cleaning supplies, etc.
Even if you've you've initiated automatic re-ordering for all your goods, there are still intangible "supplies" which you must account for. Have you ever forgotten to book your monthly cleaning service? Have you left a broken lightbulb unfixed for days at a time? An office manager should take care of these tasks so the office runs in tip-top shape and everyone can perform to the best of their abilities.
For us, it was difficult to stay on top of all the office needs and resources, and sometimes we went without coffee or snacks for a few days because we just forgot about it. The office attitude was palpably more irritable when we weren't fully stocked. But once the office manager came and fixed the issue, the team was not only visibly happier, but they also had to spend less time and money on Starbucks runs, which meant we didn't have to derail our workflow nearly as often.
Team Chemistry Is Waning
Company events can do wonders for team morale, but as a founder, you probably don't want to spend time planning them. You may not even have the consideration to plan a company happy hour, for example, but an office manager will. These events facilitate bonding and create stronger ties, which lead to better teamwork in the workplace.
We wanted to have a social culture within the office, and even though the founders and some of the team members were able to plan events before our office manager arrived, they weren't nearly as well put together and they took time out away from other tasks. As a result, people felt their efforts went underappreciated. Let's face it: Everyone enjoys a party, but not everyone acknowledges how much planning goes into it. Before we had a devoted person to plan events, this was a problem that negatively affected morale.
Retreats, team sports, meals, and parties are all chemistry-boosting events that an office manager can initiate in your company. Once our office manager came in, team morale shot up, people began interacting more and talking about the company, and it felt like people were more invested in the team as a whole. We find it much easier to believe in the company's mission and encourage one another now that we're all able to have fun together.
You're Growing Faster Than You Can Keep Up
In a high-growth startup, having an office manager around to make sure that everyone is getting their fair share of resources is vital to employee satisfaction. Even in a cramped space, a great office manager can create an office layout that makes everyone feel comfortable and focused. When our startup growth spurt began, space and time became burdens for our employees. There wasn't enough of either. Once we had an office manager with the time to work on finding more space, it took a huge load off of everyone's shoulders.
Office managers are indispensable when you change offices. Will you remember to cancel the cable, reroute your maintenance workers, update your clients about your new location, hire movers for big ticket items, and handle the sale or donation of goods that you no longer need? Having to handle all that during our move was a hugely stressful job for me and the other founders. We'd have to work late nights and weekends because we were essentially performing two jobs at once.
Startup founders wear many hats, particularly in the early stages. There comes a time in every company's evolution to delegate some of those hats to others. Office managers give founders the most important resource in the world--time! For us, we also gained peace of mind, employee satisfaction and team morale. Our office stays clean, our employees stay satisfied, and our fridge stays full, and that's why we love having an office manager.