Administrative assistants rarely (if ever) have their own personal office space. Instead, their desks tend to sit near communal spaces or out in the open. On the one hand, this makes sense. Since administrative assistants tend to play a role in the work of each of their coworkers, availability is key.
The downside is that administrative assistants constantly lack privacy, which can make it difficult to avoid interruptions and stay focused. What’s more, coworkers sometimes use administrative assistants’ desks as a communal space where they dump newspapers, office supplies, files, and the like.
Once again, organization and boundaries are the name(s) of the game. Start by keeping your workspace organized and designating spaces for any communal materials that end up on your desk by necessity. Whenever relevant, instruct coworkers to put office supplies and other materials back where they actually belong. Additionally, assign spaces for your personal work materials. This will help ensure none of these items accidentally go missing.
Maintaining boundaries is also key. If you’re interrupted and the request isn’t urgent, let your coworker know you’re presently engaged in a project but you’ll respond as soon as you’re able. You may even consider putting up a little sign on your desk that communicates when you’re focused on a project. This will let coworkers know they shouldn’t interrupt you unless it’s absolutely necessary. So long as your boundaries are communicated in a respectful way, you are well within your rights to set them.
At times, juggling multiple sets of priorities, a high workload, and demanding coworkers can feel like a grueling job. Administrative assistants can make things easier on themselves by implementing these strategies for coping with workplace challenges. In the process, they can boost their efficiency and improve quality of life on the job.