Face-to-face support: The key to excelling as an Executive Assistant

01 March 2023 Anastasia Kelly

Executive Assistant Return To Office

In the wake of the pandemic, and with many organisations having adapted to remote working arrangements, you might have become accustomed to working from home. However, you’ve most likely noticed a recent shift in focus, with most senior leaders preferring to return to face-to-face arrangements. 

As an executive assistant, your role is crucial to the success of your leader, and in turn, the entire organisation. As a key contributor to smooth and efficient day-to-day operations, it's important to understand why returning to the office can benefit your leader, your organisation, and your career.

Maximising your impact and influence

As a high-performing executive assistant, you’re in possession of a keenly developed emotional intelligence. Your ability to understand subtlety and nuances in tone of voice and body language is vital to your leader’s success, but this skill set can be hampered when communicating remotely. 

Your opportunities to influence and guide relationships and outcomes are more easily executed from within the office environment. Being able to witness interactions firsthand in meetings or daily conversations, places you in a stronger position to respond quickly and more effectively in support of your leader.

Providing the most effective support to your leader

In your critical role as the gateway to your executive, it’s far more difficult to build relationships, anticipate needs and perform proactively when you’re removed from the workplace. This is undoubtedly negatively impacting your leader’s ability to achieve set outcomes, foster connections and to stay one step ahead of the demands placed upon them.

I’m frequently hearing from C-suite executives that they’re being significantly impeded in their roles through their assistants wanting to continue working from home. With board members and leadership team members migrating back to the workplace, top executives are feeling stretched and under more pressure than necessary. 

Returning to the office on a full-time basis, therefore presents you with a golden opportunity to distinguish yourself amongst other executive assistants. Through returning to the workplace you’ll demonstrate your commitment, professionalism and appreciation for the critical nature of your position.

Improving your productivity while reducing risk

Time pressures and the demands of project management can be eased for you in the office environment as well. Managing complex and multi-faceted tasks such as event planning and detailed travel arrangements can be far less time consuming, with less room for error, when coordinated face-to-face. Decisions can be made quicker, the risk of miscommunication is reduced and high-quality outcomes are easier to achieve. Through having simple conversations with your leader, rather than juggling email trails, meeting requests and multiple channels of digital communication, friction is lowered and your productivity improved.

Leveraging your opportunities for career progression

In addition to making a meaningful contribution to your leader and organisation by returning to the workplace, you’re also in a unique position to further your career. 

Many of the potential candidates I’ve discussed positions with recently, are hesitant to take on roles that require a fulltime on-site presence. In managing their expectations before applying for a role, I’m finding I regularly need to highlight the hiring leader’s need for them to be in the workplace. Many highly qualified candidates are self-selecting themselves out of positions as a result, leaving the way clear for ambitious EAs who are keen to progress in their careers. 

Through showing a willingness to work full-time on a face-to-face basis, there’s no doubt you will increase your likelihood of moving into a more senior role.

Benefits of returning to the workplace

Although returning to the workplace on a full-time basis requires a big shift in mindset, there are distinct benefits to be had for yourself, and your colleagues. According to a large study recently completed by Microsoft, 84% of the 20,000 respondents advised that they were more likely to return to the office to see their “work friends”, while 85% agreed that rebuilding team relationships was also a major motivator. 

The buzz of energy and meaningful face-to-face connections in the workplace are difficult to replicate within remote working arrangements. In your role, you may have experienced that the team that you interact with daily, has narrowed down to a much smaller group while working from home. Conversations are often limited to scheduled meetings and phone calls, and centre around tasks and outcomes, rather than strengthening connections and forging new relationships. 

Through returning to the office, you allow the opportunity for meaningful conversations, light-hearted exchanges and corridor chats to brighten your day and reenergise you.

Additionally, in your role as a key influencer for culture and decision making, you may be able to help to encourage others to return to the office, and to ease their transition. Many large corporations are currently trialling different approaches to support their employees in returning to the office. Heavy hitters such as Amazon, Adobe and Google have adopted various strategies to encourage teams to come together again, while closer to home, Telstra has employed perks such as “O weeks” involving catering, social events and revamped office spaces to welcome team members back to the office.

Fulfilling your potential while maintaining flexibility

While returning to the office full-time can be a challenging shift to make, there can be no doubt that you’ll be more effective in your role as a crucial support to your leader. Through leveraging your emotional intelligence and communication skills to their full potential in the office, you’ll earn your leader’s gratitude and build upon their trust. 

Enjoying continued flexibility is therefore still possible after returning to the workplace. As with any mature, respectful and trusting working relationship, your leader should still understand the need for occasional time away from the office. Whether it be to support you in completing tasks that benefit from minimal interruptions, or attending appointments of a personal nature, flexibility can still be earned and experienced.

Returning to the office is key for you, your leader, and your organisation 

While remote working has become the new normal for many during the pandemic, returning to the workplace on a full-time basis can offer numerous benefits for you in your executive assistant role. Through being in the office environment, you’ll maximize your impact and influence, be more effective in your role, and open up new career opportunities. While the shift back to the office may be challenging, the benefits can make it a worthwhile endeavour.

Looking to grow your career?

If you’re keen to get the edge for taking the next step in your career, call Anastasia on 0421 16 55 96 to have a confidential discussion about the high-quality, face-to-face roles on offer with us.