Office and Office System

Table of Contents(toc)

1.1 Introduction:

Every one of us, even children (say, 3 or 4 years), in our day-to-day life use the words office & system in various contexts. In fact we are working in Government offices and we will discuss in this unit what is an office, why do we need a system and how it helps in our day to day office administration.

1.2 Objectives:

    On completion of this Unit, you will be able to
        •= Define the term office
        •= Define the term system
        •= State the advantages in following a system in office
        •= Explain why information is processed in office

1.3 Definition of an Office:

Almost in every house the real drama will start from the early morning, say, at 7.00 am onwards or even early that children may shout that Mummy! Where are my shoes? Where are my socks? I am to go to school or college.

Please get ready my lunch box. At the same time, you may also ask for arrangements for you to go to “office”. If both are employees, she may seek your support in making arrangements. You might have done similarly the way children were shouting when you were in your childhood. That means we will be hearing the term “Office” right from childhood. Children may use the word “office” without having proper understanding of the word. The children will only know that their father/mother went to office where they work.
But you will be knowing more about the term Office. Before you go for further reading, please jot down in the box given below what you think is an office? This would help you in a better understanding of the issues that are being discussed in this unit.


-- Participants activity --

Good. You have noted down some points. Interestingly, most people continue to define an “Office” as a workplace where people perform a series of activities for achieving the organizational goals/objectives. For example, “we both are working in the side-by-side offices”. “My office is very close to my husband’s office”.

Office is also used to refer to the people who work there. for example, “the whole office knows that you got promotion” or “Boss is going on leave for next two weeks”. Here office refers to the people working there.

More interestingly, a mother who is a housewife is also working: but we do not say that she is working in an office. Why? Because she does not get “paid” for her services.

You may therefore, add that the organization pays its employees a salary. That is, work is done in an office for monetary considerations. You may consider that this completes the definition of an office. While this is partly true, this definition does not give us the complete picture. Office may also refer to an important job or position of authority in Government or in an organization. For example, “the Chairperson of the Institute holds the office for one year” or “the office of the President of the society is an honorary one”. Here, office refers to the position held.

One of your friends could be working in a factory. Another friend could be a farmer who would be working in the field. When you apply the definition of office you have in mind at this stage to these situations you may find it odd to say that they work in an office. Some of us may even say that a person who works in the field or a form does not work in an office.

Similarly, you may say that a person who works in the factory does not work in an office. If you think a little deeper, you may say that the definition of office excludes manual work. You would appreciate that a complete definition of office has still not emerged.

You may like to try to define office from a different angle. Do you agree that you work in an office? The chances are that you would say “yes”. In that case, let us see what you do in an office.

Most of you may be receiving communications, recording them somewhere or may be filing them. In general, what you do in an office is something relating to paperwork. But it is not the paper you are dealing with; it is “something” that paper contains. What is that “something”?

If you did not get a satisfactory reply, consider the issue from yet another angle. An organization is set up with specific goals/objectives.

Whichever organization you work with, you do work to achieve the organizational goals/objectives. To achieve these, frequently, various decisions are taken by people who are authorized to decide, as and when the clientele group approaches them.

Let us now see what are the various means through which the clientele can approach people who decide. In a small organization, like a private sector office, the clients can directly reach the decision maker. As the organization grows there would be intermediaries, primarily to let the decision maker concentrate only on major issues. People working under them could decide the smaller issues. As the organization grows further or in most Government offices, there could be officers and an office. Those in the office do the necessary preparatory work to let the officers take decisions. These preparatory works would include dealing with “something” which the paper contains.

This could either be facts or figures or diagrams or codes or even maps. Basically, these are information. The information is processed so that persons who are authorized could take decisions. (We generally call them as the “competent authorities”). From functional point of view, we may now define an “Office” as “Information Processing Center”. (If you are a computer literate you may slightly differ on the use of the words ‘information’. You may prefer to use word data, instead!). We have already seen that the reason why information is processed is to take decisions to achieve organizational goals.

You have seen that the term ‘office’ is used in different context. Therefore, there are different ways of defining ‘Office’. One of the most common definitions is from the geographical point of view. Another refers to people working there. Yet another is from the point of view of the position held. These are normally the definitions from the common man point of view. For someone concerned with office management, from the functional point of view. Hence, the most appropriate one may be in terms of processing of information, since all offices are collecting data, processing it, taking decisions, communicating and storing the information.

One of the definitions of ‘office’ could be that an Office is a work place where teams of people work together, mostly in a hierarchy. People are paid for their efforts by the organization. An office is a kind of control tower where information is processed to facilitate a competent authority to take decisions to achieve organizational goals.

Self-Assessment Questions (SAQ 1.3)

With Trainer.


1.4.1 Why do we need a System?

Let us start with a story.

There were four People in an Office named -  EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY & NOBODY.  

There was an important work to be done and

                        EVERYBODY was sure that SOMEBODY would do it.
                        ANYBODY could have done it, but NOBODY did it.
                        SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was
                        EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought that
                        ANYBODY could do it, but NOBODY realized that
                        EVERYBODY would not do it. It ended up that
                        EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY, When actually
                        NOBODY accused ANYBODY.

Have you enjoyed the above story? Please try to list out the learning points from the above story in the box given below:


 -- Participants Activitiy --

It is nice that you have attempted to list out some points. In the above situation, you may say that there is no system in the office. No specific duties and responsibilities entrusted to them. Who is to be blamed in this situation? Yes, Nobody.

Let us discuss another situation, which generally occur. You might have experienced either during travel or out side your office or any other office or in a market or bazaar etc. places, people talking about offices and their functioning. People will be discussing about their experiences when they go to office(s). Somebody will say that there is no system or procedure in this office. When they go to an office for any certificate or for any other work, they might have been asked to go to that seat; when they go to that seat, they would have again been asked to contact another seat and so on.

Some people might have had many bitter experiences in this regard. Even you might have seen/ experienced that no procedure is followed in carrying out a specific activity either in your office or any other office you visited either for official purpose or personal.

Do you feel a system is required in office? Certainly you will say, “Yes”. Why don’t you list out some points “Why a system is required in an office”? or “List out the advantages in following a system in an office”?


-- Participants Activity --

1.4.2 What is a System?

From the above experiences, we understood that there should not be any ambiguity either in carrying out any activity or in the roles and responsibilities. Everyone expects that things should happen in an office as routine on the basis of certain prescribed procedures or norms without waiting for any individual. In fact, a system is very much required for smooth and effective functioning of an office.

Think of a situation in your house. How, since morning, will you prepare yourself to go to office? Don’t you follow a routine in this regard? Definitely “Yes”.

When you go to a bank for withdrawing money, a certain procedure is followed in the bank.

Even in your office, you follow a specified procedure in processing the information till a decision is taken and communicated to the concerned.

Also, you are having a clear job and responsibilities to be carried out in the day-to-day administration.

In government offices the procedure to be followed is prescribed by rules. From all the above, simply, we can define a “System” as “doing the things methodically by following certain procedures laid down with a clearly defined roles and responsibilities for smooth and effective functioning of the office”.

Self-Assessment (SAQ 1.4):

-- Participants Activity --

1.5 Common Office Functions:

Now, let us have a look at the office functions. “Function” here refers to the activities you perform in office, irrespective of the kind of work assigned to you. In other words, whether you work in administration section or accounts section or any other section, you all perform “some” common office functions. Would you like to list these common office functions? Remember that all you have to do is think of those activities you would perform irrespective of the section you are working in. Record your points in the box given below:


-- Participants Activity --
Common Office Functions
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Self-Assessment (SAQ 1.5):

-- Participants Activity --

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