Risk is an interesting concept. Without risk, pioneering businesses and thriving startups around the globe wouldn’t be able to exist, and yet, calculated risks both reward and punish businesses on a daily basis. The dichotomy between the need for and desire to avoid risk within the workplace is a fascinating concept that impacts many others besides the lofty C-suite big wigs who get paid the big bucks to “take the risks.”

In fact, one very undervalued area where risk can play a large yet subtle factor is with the typically humble yet always incredible office administrator.

Ways that Office Administrators Help with Risk Management

If you or someone you know suits up on a regular basis in order to serve in the critical role of an office administrator, you can rest assured that they’re managing a plethora of risk factors on a daily basis — even if the whole “risk management” part was never formally included on their job description. Here are a few of the most important ways that office admins help to manage the risks present in the average office.

Serving as the Central Hub

Most companies must consider a variety of different business risks sprinkled throughout their operations, including:

  • Physical risks like the possibility of a fire or the air quality of an office.
  • Geographic/natural risks like hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Human risks such as employees coming to work when they’re mentally unwell or while they’re struggling with the flu.
  • Technology risks like cybersecurity and online storage backup.
  • Strategic risks such as research and development.

An office admin doesn’t head up any one of these risk management factors, per se. However, they often serve in the crucial role of an interdepartmental hub. Within this capacity, they can act as a liaison that can communicate to various areas of the company and ensure that every potential risk that should be considered is being tended to.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Along with their role in a company’s internal communication, office admins spend a great deal of time “sweating the small stuff.” This is often comprised of things as harmless as restocking the pens or making sure that notes are being taken during a meeting.

However, it can also take the form of critical risk-management services, such as minimizing slip and fall accidents by overseeing the daily salting of an icy walkway or moving items out of a path where they were left by a careless coworker.

Tending to the Legal Mumbo Jumbo

When the concept of legal “mumbo jumbo” comes up, most people think of snobby lawyers holed up in an office producing prodigious quantities of paperwork. However, it’s often the office administrator that has to take the front seat when the rubber actually hits the road and all of that paperwork requires distribution.

Whether they’re scanning documents to leave a digital paper trail, collecting signatures or e-signatures, sending emails, backing up data, or creating, managing, and updating systems more often than not, at least a portion of tending to the legal record-keeping tasks of an office falls to the ever-busy office administrator.

Security Detail Extraordinaire

While the thought of an office administrator may conjure an image of just another employee behind a desk, they often quietly serve double duty in another important risk-management role: security. Office employees can be instrumental watchdogs for a workspace, keeping an eye on behaviors and helping to prevent employee theft in the workplace.

According to the American Society of Employers, as much as 20% of each dollar that U.S. companies earn is lost to employee theft, which makes the humble office administrator a bastion of protection, particularly when it comes to an office’s profit and loss statement.

Along with obvious physical security concerns, office admins can often also stay busy helping to manage cybersecurity threats. Whether they’re personally helping to keep their own computers safe, managing sensitive data for the office, or simply staying up to date on the current IT disaster recovery plan, office admins often end up crossing over into security risk management in ways that most other employees would never even think about.

The Silent Sentry

An office administrator is often seen as an important yet humdrum pawn in a larger office-scape. Sure, they help to keep things organized and running smoothly. They also help with record-keeping, inventory management, scheduling, budgeting, customer service, and so on — okay, even this list is impressive enough on its own at this point.

But the average office administrator’s critical role in risk management is perhaps one of the greatest contributions that they make. For instance, their organizational efforts are all well and good, but helping to keep legal and security concerns covered is just as important. In the same vein, minimizing potential slip and fall concerns can have greater far-reaching benefits than any restocked shelf or scheduled meeting.

Whatever the specific example, it’s important to recognize the essential role that office administrators play in helping to manage and minimize risks within an office on a daily basis.