Changing role of office
THE ADMINISTRATIVE ROLE, more than
most others, has been profoundly affected by the
information revolution, according to Canadian
researcher Alice de Wolff. At a meeting of the Office
Worker’s Career Assistance Group of Toronto, Ms.
de Wolff noted that office professionals work
constantly with new information technologies. They
bring the information economy to life and experience
the impact of the information revolution on a daily
She told her audience about a four-year study of
nine Toronto companies with as many as 6,000
employees. A team of researchers, including Ms. de
Wolff, interviewed approximately 650 managers and
office workers to determine how the administrative
profession has changed. They discovered that office
work has changed in three ways.
1. Tasks that formed the core of administrative
work are done in new ways, but are still required
in most jobs.
2. Complex new tools that administrative
professionals use to do these core tasks require
office workers to develop technical knowledge
and skills and to work constantly to keep their
3. Reorganization in many workplaces has added
new tasks related to specific occupations or
industries that require office workers to diversify.
Many office professionals are being asked to do
things that fall outside of their traditional support
role. For example, a receptionist in a publishing
house may be asked to edit manuscripts.
These trends have led to changes in the jobs of
office workers, including:
• Intensified workloads, with fewer people handling
more tasks and a wider range of responsibilities.
• More complex administrative work with fewer
• Training responsibilities handled by office staff,
particularly in the areas of software and
• Fewer office workers with nine-to-five schedules,
and many having temporary jobs and flexible
How can administrative...
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