The term office has been defined in a variety of ways. In common parlance, an office means a place where clerical work is performed and where all kinds of paper work is maintained and dealt with. However in modern sense of the term, office denotes an activity and not a place. Whenever clerical operations are performed, they are treated as office function. According to Edward Roche. It is a mistake to regard on office as a specific place-instead we are forced to conclude that an office exists any where, that certain kinds of works are performed.”
Office is regarded as an important part of an organization. The very existence of an organization necessitates the presence of an office. Whether it is a Government institution, a business house or an educational institution, office plays a pivotal role for its functioning because a well managed office helps management to plan its operation intelligently and to put them in action competently. Without an efficient office, the business activities can-not be carried on systematically. Because of the importance of the modern office it has been rightly said that “the office is to a business what the mainspring to a watch.”
In the handbook of business administration Maynard has outlined the importance of office in the following ways :
(a) Office is regarded as the locus of business policy. It is a place where policy is formed and from where it is executed.
(b) Office acts as an overseer of office machine, furniture and equipments.
(c) It serves as a centre for personnel function.
(d) Office acts an intermediary with customers and outside organization with regard to preparation of bills, collection of bills, making payments and attending corresponds.
(e) It acts as an information hub of the company because all types of information’s are found in office.
Modern office is regarded as the store house of information. The importance of office to modern business can be studied from the following points :
1. Office acts an information centre, rather a data bank for a business unit. It collects information from both internal and external source, records it, arranges and analyses it and provides it to management at the time of necessity. So all sorts of information whether past or present are available in office.
2. Office acts as on intermediary agency as it connects different departments with outsiders. It establishes linkage of the business unit with its suppliers, customers, Government and the general public as a whole.
3. It provides a machinery for co-ordination. It provides competent clerical services to all in the business who needs it. Different departments like production, distribution and finance are interlinked and this linkage is made possible through the help of office.
4. Office as a control centre of the organization since office assists management m taking decision and implementing them. It is a place where policy decisions originates and where it is executed.
5. It is regarded as a channel through which written communication moves from top to bottom and bottom to top.
6. It is regarded as the clearing house of the business unit because it is the place through which all information pass, given a proper treatment and then supplied to the necessary points where it is demanded.
From the above discussions it is evident that office is an important department in any business unit and it contributes to the efficient and economic running of the business. It is the centre which cooers information from each part of the organization and much useful knowledge goes out of its four walls. It is thus regarded as the brain of the business unit. A business without an office is just like a fish out of water. Thus, no business can run successfully without a well organized and efficiently managed office.
Is office work unproductive
In common sense the word office work denotes the records of the enterprise. Records of the enterprise include making records, using records and preserving records for future reference. This concept of office work necessitate the postulates that office work is clerical work. The activities like communication, data processing planning and scheduling are also regarded as office work. There is a saying that office work is office work and therefore who does it and where it is done are immaterial. According to Liffingwell and Robinson “office work is concerned with the records and statistics, with communications, with computing, with planning and scheduling. Every office task comes within the scope of one or the other of these activities. The following are some of the essential characteristics of office work :
(a) Office work is essentially a paper work.
(b) Office work is facilitating in nature.
(c) Office work contributes indirectly for the attainment of the organizational end.
(d) It exists throughout the organization and it is difficult to measure.
As office work is primarily concerned with paper Work, it has been said by some that office work is unproductive. Office work is not unproductive but productive because in its absence the production and distribution would not have taken place. It is productive because :
It provides a linkage between the company and the shareholders.
It is a tool for managerial control.
It acts as a social institution as it establishes linkage of the business unit with the government agencies and the public as a whole.
It acts as a communication channel
As office plays a vital role in discharging a number of functions it is a wrong notion to say that office work is unproductive.