Doubting between an Office Manager and an Executive Assistant? Here are the differences
After yet another 90-hour working week and a disappointing team get-together, you’ve finally decided to stop doing everything yourself when it comes to administration tasks, organizing team outings, scheduling meetings and events, and making sure new colleagues are properly on-boarded.
What do all these tasks have in common? They’re exactly what executive assistants and office managers are experts in.
Based on your and your company’s specific needs, an EA can be more suitable than an office manager, and vice versa. So, how to choose? And what’s the ROI of hiring an executive assistant or an office manager?
Let’s go through what each role is really about, and the differences between an office manager and an executive assistant. In this way you’ll know exactly who you need to hire to match your company needs!
Office managers and executive assistants have many tasks & responsibilities in common
Like executive assistants, office managers are responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization. While they can’t hire or fire employees, they are tasked with making decisions that impact the work environment and culture of the company.
For example, both roles will be responsible for:
- Helping their bosses with scheduling meetings
- Booking travel arrangements, and managing company-wide projects
- Managing budgets and keeping accurate records of expenses. So executives can see how well current projects are going or if there needs to be any changes in strategy moving forward.
While it’s true that these responsibilities overlap between office manager and executive assistant roles (and many other similar positions in the administrative industry), there are some key differences between these two jobs. Let’s dive into it.
What does an Office Manager do?
Office Managers are really involved in business supportive tasks. They are there to support the whole company. Of course, specific tasks and duties can differ from company to company: in some cases an Office Manager might have to manage the agenda of the company’s executive as well.
An office manager is responsible for managing the administrative functions of a company. Basically, they’re there to support the whole organization.
Their tasks can include:
- Overseeing human resources, accounting, marketing, procurement and purchasing
- Developing strategy for improving internal processes;
- Help with onboarding new employees
- Training existing and new staff (particularly in areas like technology)
- Managing budgets
- Coordinating with vendors/consultants
- Ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations (such as environmental laws)
- Creating procedure manuals for new hires to follow
- Organizing meetings/events that bring staff together from various departments so they can share information about what’s happening across the board— you get the idea!
Our Headroom global office manager Merel, for example, is there to ensure the team spirit and company culture is nurtured at every touch point, from onboarding throughout the full employee life cycle. She takes care of everything home office-related too: supplies, deliveries and logistics. But also hybrid and remote team events, bonuses and gifts, bookings and travel arrangements for the team.
If you’re looking for someone who can help streamline your company’s processes while simultaneously being a great resource for everyone else in the office (including yourself), then this position is worth considering!
And what about an Executive Assistant?
In contrast, an EA’s main focus is supporting top executives within a company: Chief Executive Officer, c-suites, directors.. Great business people need great, qualified executive assistants who can also act as sparring partners.
An EA typically takes over a variety of tasks:
- Manage the executive’s complex inbox and agenda (scheduling appointments based on individual preferences)
- Book private and business travels including accommodation – making sure everything goes smoothly before departure date arrives!
- Organize and follow meetings on behalf of the executive and take actionable notes and reports
- Think along with the entrepreneur about how they can achieve their goals and unlock possibilities for their company
In addition, an EA can also support you on a personal level. They can take care of personal tasks and workload so everything will be balanced and streamlined. This way you can focus more on new business ideas, family and social activities and a better work-life balance.
You just need to learn how to delegate effectively!
An executive assistant is responsible for managing their executive’s schedule and making sure everything is taken care of.
We’re talking scheduling meetings, handling travel arrangements, keeping track of appointments, and more. Executive assistants also help with day-to-day operations like:
- Answering phones and sending emails
- Arranging for lunch or dinner reservations for the executive and others
- Filing documents and invoicing
- Helping with research projects
Ultimately, an executive assistant’s primary goal is to keep things running smoothly so that their executive can focus on their priorities.
So what’s the difference between Office Managers and Executive Assistants?
Now that we have introduced and defined the two roles, let’s dig into the main differences between the two.
- Supports the company and team as a whole
- Good IT management
- Helps with onboarding of remote employees
- Provides a well-stocked lunch table
- Organizes cozy Friday afternoon drinks
- Influences internal communication and processes
- Is an important link between remote employees
- Provides personal support to the entrepreneur
- Inbox management
- Agenda management
- Books business & private travel
- Searches for restaurants & makes reservations
- Supports executives on a personal level
- Improves your work-life balance
In conclusion, an office manager is responsible for the team feeling, administrative employees and the office itself. They can also work closely with HR on payroll and benefits.
An executive assistant usually has more autonomy. While they will help with some of the company-wide administrative tasks mentioned above (especially those related to the executive), their main job is to support the executive in all aspects of their life and be a gatekeeper of their calendar and valuable time.
Executive assistants and office managers should be hired with different considerations in mind
With this in mind, it’s important to consider how each role will help your company function more effectively.
For example, if you’re hiring a new position as part of a major reorganization effort in your company, it would make sense to look for someone who has experience managing teams and general logistics (office manager) over someone with strong administrative skills (executive assistant). However, if you need someone who can help manage tasks related specifically to one or two top executives at your company — say, overseeing travel arrangements or preparing quarterly reports—then those duties would be better suited for someone with strong administrative and organizational skills: an executive assistant.
How do I know if I need an Executive Assistant?
- You feel you don’t have enough time to do everything you should to scale your business and execute.
- You spend more time on admin and calendar management than strategy and business development.
- Your work life balance is close to non-existent.
- You’re missing out on social and family life and your calendar is haunting you.
If you’re asking yourself whether you need an EA, you already know the answer.