On top of that, they’ll need to be able to keep tabs on varying schedules. With companies offering flexible working hours, there may be challenges with pay runs, visits, and contracts. Back office staff will play a vital role in making sure that people working on different schedules stay connected. They may have to be more flexible with their own hours to accommodate different shift patterns.
In short, companies are going to be asking more than ever from their support staff over the coming months.
The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital upskilling across all roles. This is especially true in back office and support roles. Remote working has made electronic document access crucial. Support staff have had to find ways to disseminate information virtually, securely and efficiently. They are playing an increasingly important role in choosing the technology that enables organisations to be more digitally savvy .
But for many in support roles, this means a steep learning curve. There has been a rapid upskill in technical assets that have not been necessary for back office roles before now.
If we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. And being ready for anything may be something that many back office staff and administrators feel they’ve always had to handle.
But the more formal emergency preparations could be properly supported if a central role handles them. Because of their central position, administrators and back-office staff can facilitate things like evacuations, infrastructure failures, interruptions to the supply chain and, of course, occasions when it is unsafe for employees to attend work. Their access to registers, records and communication tools puts them in the perfect place to centralise emergency planning.
With these sorts of contingency plans in place, businesses can pivot, and avoid losing competitive advantage. Taking responsibility for contingency will ensure management views back office staff as crucial to operational safety.
Managing visitors is part of the back office function, but the way in which that takes place in a post-Covid world may look quite different. Fever screening as people enter the building may help to increase the confidence of building users. Encouraging visitors to take part in the track and trace system could do the same.
And with flexible working patterns, digital visitor management may begin to gather momentum. These offer online self-sign in systems enabling visitors to ‘check-in’ at reception without the need of a physical staff member present. They also offer detailed reporting options and increased tracking and security.
Many people are likely to feel some level of anxiety or uncertainty when returning to the workplace after lockdown. Back-office and support staff could play a crucial role in helping to ease the transition.
Back office roles may find they are under more pressure as people return to the workplace, and might have to respond creatively. Pre-recorded videos, chat functions and out of hours support systems might all become a part of the remit of support staff going forward. However they adapt, one thing is certain: we should not underestimate the importance of support staff for the transition back to office working.