PAs today offer much more than admin support. Hays, for example, find that 84% of PAs are involved in functions beyond traditional PA duties, including office management (55%), marketing and events (50%) and HR (37%).
Equally, more than 70% of business leaders trust their PA’s judgement in making business decisions on their behalf.
PAs aren’t merely a support function – those days are long gone. And as companies decide the role the office has to play amid a projected six months of new restrictions, PAs have a crucial role in helping the business navigate this new normal.
PAs in the new normal: Supporting the entire business to thrive
Right now, the role of PA is even more heavily weighted towards people- and culture-based tasks.
As Abigail Jones, EA at Facebook, recently pointed out (watch the on-demand webinar replay), PAs are handling far fewer business-as-usual tasks, because business definitely isn’t usual.
Instead, PAs must embrace a wider role around supporting employee wellbeing, building social cohesion, and strengthening culture.
A recent Today’s PA survey reinforced the same, talking about how tasks like organising staff social events and working across staff wellbeing projects benefited most from PA involvement.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for today’s PAs to support people now, and when the return to the office begins again in earnest:
- Be an early warning system. Right now, employees’ anxiety levels are probably running high. PAs are perfectly placed to spot when people need some extra support and connect them to appropriate resources before problems spiral. PAs can act as a hub, connecting employees with whatever resources or tools they need to thrive.
- Safeguard your own mental health. The counterpart to the above point. Be careful not to take on too much, as the office sounding board. Be compassionate but protect your mental space too. If you take on everyone’s problems as your own, you risk burning out yourself.
- Champion little-and-often communication. In times of such uncertainty, there’s likely no small measure of chaos. Communication can easily get lost in the fray, and misunderstandings can spiral. Get ahead of the issue by carving out space for regular communication – like short daily huddles or end-of-day catch-ups.
- Organise social events. Maintaining team connection is hugely complex at the moment. Everyone’s had different experiences of working from home, some will resent new restrictions, while some are glad to maintain the two minute commute. Frustrations and disconnection can build fast in divided teams. Help foster team togetherness by organising socially distanced team building events.
- Reimagine traditional engagement moments. For example, maybe teams usually went out for Friday night pizza, or the whole office has breakfast together during Monday meetings. Look to recreate those experiences in a COVID-secure way. For example, back to work eating might look like ordering individually packed breakfasts for contactless delivery.
PAs have long transcended traditional support function tasks, becoming relied-on strategic advisors and guardians of culture. Those priorities are more important than ever as businesses navigate the return to the office.
This blog is part of The team that Eats together initiative, a content series exploring what normal looks like now, and how to enhance the working world to meet evolved employee expectations.
Bring the team back together, wherever they’re working.