The future of business support

Business support is the backbone of every business. Whether it’s a single administrator managing payroll, or a multiple-person function consisting of secretarial staff, receptionists, EAs, PAs, project and customer service support, these often ‘unsung heroes’ of the workforce ensure day-to-day operations run efficiently.

Evolution of the traditional ‘administrator’

The role of the administrator (a generic term for this diverse profession) has changed over the last 50 years. Traditionally, admins would type letters and memos, answer calls, do filing, manage diaries, make reservations and book travel and accommodation. Many of these tasks remain relevant today, yet the discipline has evolved.

As the first point of contact and/or gatekeeper for an organisation, administrators have always influenced all areas of the business. Their soft skills are numerous too and include problem-solving, versatility, collaboration, emotional intelligence and communication. While these softer skills continue to add value to organisations, the task-based work of business support has and continues to change.

In many business contexts, the responsibilities outlined above are obsolete. Technology has either replaced them completely or made tasks simpler and less time-consuming. Consequently, administrators have acquired more varied and complex duties. These include office security and emergency response, as well as maintaining websites, planning company events and digital marketing. Admin staff are also contributing more to accounts and budgeting, taking ownership for information management and delivering basic systems training.

An adaptable profession

Despite the encroachment of technology on their patch, business support remains relevant today and the profession is perhaps enhanced due to technological innovation. As the world of work changes, the business support role of the future will likely be more specialised too. Those critical soft skills outlined above will take centre stage. EA/PAs will leverage distinctly human qualities to develop relationships inside and outside of the organisation. And administrators, generally, will become the ‘go-to’ experts for several software tools (e.g. for video conferencing, expenses, customer service chatbots, etc.) now integral to day-to-day operations.

Furthermore, while research indicates that most, if not all, basic jobs will be replaced by AI during the next decade, many non-routine business support tasks will require humans and AI to work together to achieve results. This means that skills and knowledge related to specific automated systems will also be in demand. Competence in data analysis and an understanding of the uses and constraints of big data will be a prerequisite too.

Sector-specific knowledge is another anticipated area where business support  professionals will raise their employability prospects in the future world of work. Companies want administrators that fit their culture and who offer relevant experience and existing industry relationships that impact productivity, adding immediate value to the business. Expanded responsibilities and the opportunity to enjoy even greater influence within organisations, suggests those who work in business support roles will be an essential resource in the future.

Ever-changing skills sets

As stated above, administrators will utilise technology related skills in their enhanced roles, as well as demonstrate an aptitude for data analytics, marketing and accounting.

Those in business support functions will be masterful of a whole suite of software applications and business platforms. This includes all Microsoft Office tools, extending general marketing competencies into graphic design and project management. In addition to a familiarity with social media and email marketing platforms they will be proficient in customer relationship and database management software, such as Salesforce, and contribute to accounting departments through an ability to utilise SAP, Oracle, and Concur.

Verbal and written communication will remain the stand-out soft skills for business support professionals, together with problem-solving. The latter is related to demand nowadays for autonomous administrators who show drive and initiative. As well as being recognised for their organisational talents, business support professionals are increasingly measured on outputs linked to organisational impact. A results-focused mindset, then, is a highly relevant trait.

Overall, business support professionals will be far more strategic, collaborative and empathetic workers in the future. They will be used to managing through complexity and offer a high level of business acumen and capabilities that organisations will need to succeed.

Specialist Business Support and Admin Recruitment Agency

Nigel Wright Group is the leading specialist multi-discipline recruitment company in the North of England. We have over 30 years of experience working alongside UK and international organisations of all sizes, helping recruit the right people into critical business support roles.

Business Support recruitment is a core element of our wider proposition covering ExecutiveFinance & AccountancyITHRSalesMarketingManufacturing & Engineeringand Supply Chain & Procurement positions.

To discuss your hiring needs, please contact a member of our Business Support Recruitment Team directly. Candidates seeking full time or part-time positions can view our latest Permanent and Temporary Business Support Jobs Here.