Every company or organisation has a particular way of doing business. Effective organisations generally establish set rules and procedures to promote consistency, quality and good customer service.

Though administrative staff members rely heavily on these established procedures, other employees also benefit from understanding how things work. General office procedures consist of basic operational tasks, including answering phones, sorting mail, responding to customers and ordering supplies.

Answering Phones

A phone call is often a customer's first impression of a company, so it's important for employees to answer with a proper greeting, convey a positive tone and know how to respond to common questions. Business phone systems may be as simple as a single incoming line or a complex multiline set-up. Employees should know how the phones work, including how to forward calls, place callers on hold, check voicemail and switch between lines. Management may specify procedures for who should accept certain calls, time lines for responding to phone requests and other situations encountered during a typical workday.

Sorting Mail

Receiving and distributing mail is a common business task performed by an organisation's administrative staff. Procedures regarding mail may include who receives particular items, how to handle junk mail or unsolicited pieces and time lines for distribution.

Management may also establish procedures for how to send out mail, including the payment of postage, particular letterheads or envelopes to use and intraoffice mail in larger organisations. Administrative staff members should understand how these processes work so they can perform responsibilities in a timely manner, making sure and other employees receive necessary documents.

Responding to Customers

Most organisations relate to a specific type of customer, whether they're consumers, students, businesses or even other employees. No matter the type, providing quality customer service is an important task. Administrative staff members interact with customers or clients over the phone, through e-mail and in person.

Businesses may establish procedures for these interactions that administrative employees have with customers. These procedures may include particular greetings or phrases to use, expected attitudes, timeliness of responses and standard answers to common questions.

Ordering Supplies

Because workers at businesses and organisations need basic supplies to perform tasks, it's often an administrative staff member's job to order these items.

Since ordering supplies involves the use of financial resources, staff members should understand rules for what vendors to use, types of payment and who approves purchases. Organizations may also establish guidelines for tracking inventory and determining when purchases need to be made. Knowledge of these processes allows administrative staff members to perform these responsibilities and ensure that colleagues have the tools and supplies needed for their jobs.