Waking up to maybe 30 steps of commute to your home studio, or to an improvised desk in the kitchen is the new normal since COVID-19 hit the world, and the office administrators are no exception to this. According to data released in October by the Labor Force Survey, 2.4 million Canadians have been working from home since the pandemic started, which has prompted companies to adapt quickly to a new way of interacting with their employees.
“ToolsToDo Handyman LLC currently has an opening for an Administrative Assistant. The tasks of the position include answering and making calls to clients, responding to emails, providing estimates, and other general tasks. The position requires responsiveness, professionalism, flexibility, and great organization skills. The position may also be done from home on a virtual basis. The Assistant will work closely with management and must have great communication skills.” This is how an administrative assistant position reads nowadays, stating the main tasks, but also highlighting that the job will be done from home.
Just by doing a quick search on a job site, at least a handful of postings show up offering remote work as a condition of the role. This proves that in spite of the change in the job setting, the position of an office administrator is still basic for companies to be able to function, even in the middle of a pandemic and without having to be at the office. At ERP College we strive to make office administrators knowledgeable and capable career-driven professionals, on whom they can rely for all the office managing needs.
Our program teaches students how to make themselves valuable during their careers in the corporate environment, following a curriculum that emphasizes technological administrative skills. We guide our students toward a full understanding of the business world, empowering them to develop their own set of abilities to set themselves apart from other candidates once they are trying to find a job.
We also train on basic office and corporate skills to thrive in their career, in addition to learning the most useful software applications and procedures. Furthermore, we teach social media marketing strategies in our program, so our graduates are able to perform and adapt to the most current trends and market needs.
Being able to graduate excellent profiles with real-world experience requires 120 hours in an office setting as part of the program. This practicum exposes students to key organizational, management, communication, accounting, and clerical skills that will make them surpass any expectation of the role.
According to the latest Virtual Assistant template that the Workable website shares, most of the tasks match the usual role that our college and other institutions teach, but this remote version emphasizes the importance of having “a strong Internet connection, along with experience using communication tools like Skype. Ultimately, you should be able to handle administrative projects and deliver high-quality work under minimum supervision.” Further, it also states the need to know how to manage online calendars and scheduling, as well as a time management skill, which will depend on the experience of the job seeker, and the ability to be open to learn new platforms and technologies.
As the pandemic extends without having a clear timeline for country-wide vaccination, more companies have figured out a way to get most of their employees to work remotely, some of these Canadian businesses have even announced this decision until 2021 like Shopify, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank and Telus; and as the number of COVID-19 cases go up and down in the different provinces, authorities have decided to mandate lockdown or at least decrease the number of employees that should remain in the offices.
On the other hand, many of the new remote workers would like to stay that way indefinitely, according to research conducted by Maru/Blue on behalf of ADP Canada. That research also found that 45 percent of working Canadians would like to work from home at least three days per week. The younger generation of workers is more prone to work from home, with 62 percent of them choosing this option in the survey.
This scenario not only will increase the number of job positions available in a remote setting but will probably change in the near future the profile of office administrators and the training they get in today’s institutions, as more of them would have to handle more digital tools that allow them to connect to a virtual office environment. “It’s clear that employees want to choose how and when they work. Employers that embrace flexibility within their culture may improve employee engagement, retention, and performance,” stated Heather Haslam, Vice President of Marketing at ADP Canada, evaluating the survey results. “However, flexible work requires the appropriate tools to support collaboration, productivity, workplace culture and engagement in a remote environment.”
As part of the downfall of these changes, it will be expected from more candidates having already the right equipment to work, and a designated space at home, since the company won’t be providing the equipment, the comfortable job setting at the office or the internet connection.
The transportation and city landscape is likely to change as well. According to a recent article, the city of Calgary is looking at ways to handle its public transportation system, as more lockdowns are implemented to control the number of COVID-19 cases, and more employees are working from home. One of the scenarios that are being evaluated is one where the second wave is severe “municipal funding levels and service delivery would be very constrained”, due to the high level of office vacancies in the downtown area.
A lot of job positions will be readapting to be able to survive in the middle of a disruptive event for which nobody had a plan b, and the ability to reinvent the work that was performed will be decisive to prevail or be left behind.