An Office Manager facilitates the efficient functioning of a workplace through a range of admin, clerical, financial and managerial tasks. In recent years, creating an inspiring and creative office through culture and communication has also become an important role for Office Managers nationwide!
Tasks related to creating this vibrant culture include organising company events or conferences, organising staff nights out and brainstorming ideas for perks or benefits that may improve the job satisfaction of an employee.
We recently had the chance to meet Alison Kerr, the Site Experience & Operations Manager at Travelport Digital. She manages the Site Operations Team, helping the company move towards a more collaborative, creative and inspiring environment.
Travelport Digital is a tech company (part of a larger global company) that delivers innovative digital travel solutions for airlines, TMCs and travel agencies to meet the expectations of today’s ultra-connected travelers. Their work enables airlines and travel companies to leverage ‘every moment in travel’ with mobile and digital services that transform how they interact with their customers. They’ve created bespoke apps for the likes of EasyJet and Singapore Airlines and have had more than 50 million app downloads.
Alison plays an important role in Travelport Digital. From implementing and improving processes, to ensuring that morale is high among employees, Alison’s role is as far reaching as it is integral to the company’s success.
What is your background?
‘’After studying marketing and languages in Tallaght, I spent 18 years working in different countries, France, Mexico, the States and Canada as PA/Office Manager predominantly in companies that were scaling up.’’
Alison first started in Travelport in 2016 when an Office Manager and PA to the CEO role opened up. From there she created the Site Ops Team. It now consists of a Front of House/Events Coordinator and 2 Site-Ops Coordinators. This team is responsible for driving workplace culture and positivity. Alison gives them autonomy to try new things, develop new skills, try new projects and anything that may benefit the workplace.
What strengths are needed to be a successful Office Manager?
‘’It’s kind of cliché but…good communication skills, good with people, good humour and of course organisation/juggling skills’’.
Alison then stressed the point that her team are the voice and ears of the organisation. It’s necessary to have understanding and empathy towards people’s opinions. 90% of the projects and initiatives that are implemented at Travelport Digital, have in fact come from employee ideas!
What part of the job do you enjoy the most?
‘’I would have to say event management and adapting to the fast paced, ever changing environment we work in. Different projects, different plans, different people…theming things, you’ve got the whole marketing and promotions side of it as well’’.
What does your typical day look like?
‘’The emails start at 7am on the bus coming in. I’m in here at around 8am. I’ll come down and have my breakfast, pick up my fruit from The Fruit People and I’ll spend 20 minutes or so in the kitchen talking to people.’’
Alison finds this is a great time to see how employees are getting on and to keep up to date with what’s going on in their lives outside of the office walls.
‘’Then I’ll have my stand-up every morning with my team. We go through the priorities of the day, and if work is too high on one of their shoulders we distribute it around and make sure everyone can get through their work for the day.’’
Meetings take up the best part of Alison’s day. She often works with employees from Travelport HQ who work on improving work environment and the design of the office. Monthly meetings with the other tenants of their office (Twitter and DocuSign) are an opportunity to find new ways to work with the community. These meetings have resulted in some great initiatives including food drives at Christmas and daily step challenges. More recently, they’ve installed beehives (30,000 bees) in their garden from which employees will soon have their very own honey!
How do you keep morale high?
‘’This is a constant, everyday improvement… it’s never ending’’.
In between organising staff events and workplace initiatives, Alison encourages Managers/Team Leads to get up and talk to their teams. Simply asking an employee to grab some lunch is a great way to boost daily workplace morale!
Do you have any special tips that would help office managers?
‘’Listen to people…smile!’’
Any advice for someone who wants to be successful in this role?
‘’Get involved in everything in the office, try anything. A lot of people (in senior positions) don’t have time to think of some of the little things that make a big difference so don’t be afraid to take initiative. It’s a pivotal role within the company. Don’t take it for granted.‘’
How has The Fruit People played a role in Travelport Digital?
‘’Well…we used to have it once a week, and now we get it every day!’’
Alison went on to tell us that people would be storing fruit for the whole week when it first arrived, for fear that there wouldn’t be any left if an employee went back another day. Even after increasing the frequency, it’s still gone almost immediately. ‘’People really appreciate it’’ says Alison. “Health and wellbeing are an important part of Travelport’s ethos. Being able to provide healthy snacks helps promote that (one of your 5 a day and all!)”