The growth in Information technology and modernisation of businesses has meant that secretarial roles have changed over the last few years.
In fact, secretaries and assistants are almost disappearing from corporate life, the drive to reduce headcount and streamline businesses removing ‘middle’ managers have caused this decline, when in fact many C level execs could really benefit from an assistant and increase their productivity.
The “secretary” 20 years ago, was responsible for keeping files organised, taking dictations, and conveying information from one individual to another with accuracy, not to mention tea making, dry cleaning pick up and travel planning. With the birth of the PC, quickly followed by the internet and email, much of the role of a secretary fell to the wayside. However, the role of the secretary is by no means obsolete, they adapted and In fact they have even become technology experts in many offices.
They are the first stop in repairing broken equipment or solving software problems, their tasks have expanded to include internet research, mastering Microsoft Office and other programs, planning large company events, budgeting, customer service, designing collateral, and drafting – rather than note taking, dictation and filing.
Here are some ways that the role of a secretary has changed over the last 20 years
- Supporting multiple managers – A 2011 survey conducted by the International Association of Administrative Professionals found that 52% of assistants said they supported three or more people,
- Rise in Virtual Assistance – This role has been on the rise over the last few years and although elicits an image of a computer-generated AI, these virtual assistants are real people working for you but from their own office or home office.
- Varied duties – One size no longer fits all, and a secretarial or assistant role is no longer a full-time one, many elements are now responsibilities of other members of the team.
What could be included in the future role of a secretary?
- Blogging – Many top-level execs like to be seen to be posting thought leadership pieces, articles, and thoughts on topics to improve their online profile and ultimately gain more business. But this kind of activity takes time and skill. We might see these types of tasking being absorbed by assistants, PA’s and secretaries which would mean that these types of jobs will require the next generation of skill sets.
- Social Media Management – Like thought leadership and blogging, keeping up with your online social presence is very important for top level execs. After all the virtual world of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is where a lot of business takes place. Although managing social media networks usually falls under the marketing teams remit, they simply do not have time to manage the social media accounts of the many execs. So, this role could now fall to secretaries and administrators.
I am sure that the business landscape will continue to change, companies are running smarter, leaner and sharing resources to maximise efficiency, paving way for new duties and job descriptions. It is just a case of wait and see.