Usage Profile Series: The Administrative Usage Profile

Usage Profile Series: The Administration Usage Profile

27 Oct 2016

The concept of a Usage Profile was introduced in this post on September 19, 2016. This series of articles will describe eight role-based Usage Profiles plus a Foundational Usage Profile. These profiles cover well over 90% of all employee and contractor roles in the U.S., across all industries. Each Usage Profile article will describe:

  • The primary type of work done by people in the Usage Profile
  • The vertical industry segments where the Usage Profile occurs
  • The metrics for workers in the Profile
  • How the Profile is unique
  • How workers in the Profile communicate
  • The technologies and tools used by workers in the Profile, currently and evolving to the future

This post considers the seventh Usage Profile, Administration Workers.

Usage Profile 7: Administration Workers

What Administration Workers Do

The Administration Usage Profile comprises workers who facilitate business activities for a department or between departments, or who support one or more managers or executives. Administration Workers are skilled at managing a diverse set of activities with complex schedules according to organizational guidelines, policies, and/or regulations.

Administration Workers coordinate many activities for members of their department or for the managers or executives whom they support. Predictably, Administration Workers have a diverse and complex set of communications activities in their daily work.

Most Administration work is transactional in the sense that the work has many steps that must be done in a defined way. However, Administration Workers are seldom responsible for the transactional workflow of the enterprise (those workflows are served by the Field, Information Processing and Production Usage Profiles), and thus have a unique profile.

Administration Workers may be either exempt from overtime, as when they may be supervising others or have decision-making authority, or they may be non-exempt from overtime when they function primarily in a coordinating role.

Administration Worker Titles and Industries

Analysis of US employment by occupation1 shows that Administration Workers represented 7.2 million US workers (4.8% of employment) in 2015. Administration Workers are found in almost every industry, since they are always associated with senior managers and executives, and because they are often providing a departmental coordination role in enterprise-wide functions such as HR, Law, or Finance. Titles for Administration Workers include Secretary, Executive Secretary, Administrator, Administrative Assistant, Department {or name of the Department} Administrator, Department {or name of the Department} Assistant, Receptionist, and Information Clerk.

Administration Worker Metrics

Administration Workers seldom have metrics associated with their work. If they have a supervisory or decision-making role, the metrics will likely be the overall performance of the department in terms of projects, throughput, workflows or similar activities. If the Administration Worker has a coordinating role, the measurement will be the quality of their work and the satisfaction of the executives, managers, or co-workers they support. Quality and satisfaction may be measured by a specific tool, such as a 360-degree survey, or may be measured only by the opinions of those supported, as shared with the Administration Worker's manager. Based on these feedback methods, the Administration Worker will usually be very sensitive to the ease, efficiency and precision of the communications systems, tools, and interfaces which are provided for their work.

How the Administration Worker Usage Profile Is Unique

The Administration Worker Usage Profile is different from other Usage Profiles in these ways:

  • Desk-based with On-Premises Mobility: Administration Workers will have an assigned desk or workstation at which they access and use their information and their communications and computing resources. Due to the coordinating nature of their work, few Administration Workers will work from home or work remotely from the executives, managers or departments they support. Occasionally, Administration Workers need to move around the floor or building where they work in order to coordinate or oversee certain activities, such as setting up a meeting or finding and alerting an executive to a critical event.
  • Transactional, but not Workflow-based: Administration Workers will perform many tasks that are transactional, such as coordinating and scheduling a meeting or routing approval requests to a manager, but they seldom work with a stream of workflow-based transactions.
  • Procedural Activities, with Some Tools: Many Administration Worker tasks are procedural, involving a number of steps in a customary or defined process, such as scheduling executive or managerial travel. Some of these procedural activities will involve specific software tools, such as those for travel arrangements, negotiating meeting schedules, or managing approvals. Many other procedural activities, such as managing documents and correspondence, will be performed based on the Administration Worker's skill with customary methods.
  • Document-Centric, but not Collaboration: Administration Workers usually receive, forward, process or file many documents during their daily work.

However, the work with documents is more a coordination to assure the correct documents are being provided for specific tasks or procedures, rather than a collaboration to revise the documents or to create new information, policies or decisions.

The Administration Worker has a very important role in most organizations with a significant contribution to the organization's effectiveness and comradery.

How Administration Workers Communicate

Administration Workers use a multitude of communications tools, yet their use of communications tools is matched to the tools used by the departments, managers or executives whom they support.

By far, the primary communications tool for Administrators is email, since email is the most efficient way for them to receive and send the coordinating documentation and information needed in their work.

The calendar, which is usually associated with the email application, and the meeting room scheduling system are also very important, since the Administration Worker frequently organizes meetings for executives and senior managers and often schedules meetings or events for the supported departments.

In parallel, the Administration Worker has complex voice communications requirements because he or she is responsible for:

  • Monitoring incoming calls and call status for the executives, managers, or departments they support. This requires multi-line telephone sets so they can visually monitor ringing calls and watch the status of calls in progress. The line indication should also indicate if the line is in do not disturb (DND) or privacy mode.
  • Placing outgoing calls on behalf of an executive or manager. This also requires multi-line telephone instruments so that the call can be placed on a line that can be picked up by the executive or manager when the called party is available and on the line.
  • Using an intercom feature to alert an executive or manager of an incoming call, the readiness of an outgoing call, or the arrival of persons for meetings.
  • Picking up ringing calls in order to provide call coverage across a group of Administrators or Executive Secretaries who share support for one or a group of executives or managers.
  • Placing calls on Call Park and using the Call Pickup feature so that a call can be 'parked' while the Administration Worker finds the called party (e.g., in a meeting room) and then "picked up" from a phone at the most convenient location. Administration Workers may also use Call Park and Pickup when they have to go to a different location such as a file room to find requested information, and then continue the call from that location.
  • Using Instant Messaging with others in the Administration Worker team to coordinate work more quickly without making their phone line busy.
  • Using SMS or a Unified Communications client to send an alert to the mobile device of an executive or manager who is in a distant meeting room or away from the office.
  • Using Presence to determine who is immediately available to assist the Administration Worker either for a request from the executive, manager or department member or for their own Administration activities.
  • Optionally, using a wired or wireless headset for convenience and a wireless headset (preferably DECT for a greater range than Bluetooth) or a Wi-Fi VoIP phone when it is necessary to leave the desk and when Call Park/Pick Up are not appropriate.
  • Using various types of document sharing applications, ranging from shared drives to collaborative workspaces. These tools will be used both for their own Administration procedures and for the receipt, sharing, or processing of documents or information needed by the executives, managers or departments whom they support.

Note that this mix of communications requirements is not well addressed by any of the Unified Communications clients provided by UC industry vendors. There is the Delegation feature and user interface available with Microsoft Skype for Business Server edition, or the IP Manager Assistant interface available with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, but both of those have limitations and are infrequently proposed or deployed. In most cases, the Administration Worker will require all of the following:

  • An email application with contacts and calendar
  • An IM and Presence UC client
  • A multi-line telephone, usually with 12 or more, even 20 or more, line appearances
  • A meeting scheduling application, including the ability to start and hand off meetings
  • Optionally, a wired or wireless headset and/or a Wi-Fi phone instrument.

Administration Workers and the executives and managers they support, demand that the communications systems are highly reliable, and that the communications applications are very simple to use. Complex user interfaces that cause delays or increase the chances of mistakes are not tolerated.

Administration Worker Communication Directions for the Future

As previously stated, Administration Worker communications tools will reflect the tools used by the executives, managers and departments that they support. For example, Administration Workers who support Collaboration Departments may use some of the tools found in collaborative workspace software products.

Similarly, as Senior Managers adopt software tools available from their mobile devices, the Administration Workers who support them might also move to a software-based environment. As those Senior Managers become Executives, the adoption will follow into the executive suites as well. However, such evolutions may take several decades.

Sometimes the idea to transform communications is sponsored by the executive suite as part of a drive for greater organizational speed, innovation or efficiency. In such cases, it is possible that the leaders and their Administration Worker support teams will shift to a software-based work style within the team. However, the burden will still fall upon either the Administration Worker or on their IT support team to bridge this new communication style to the likely ongoing use of legacy telephony solutions by customers, investors, business counterparts, or the community.


Administration Workers can be seen as the most demanding users of traditional communications tools, especially of the features of a legacy or IP PBX, perhaps even more than workers in the Contact Center Usage Profile.

It is highly likely that this group will continue to use a blend of traditional communications tools well into the future. Unless and until there is an organization-wide shift to new modes of communications, the Administration Worker Usage Profile will require incorporating traditional communications tools.

For the Administration Usage Profile, be very attentive to the complex communications processes in daily work. Also, be alert to the need of the Administration Worker to be aligned with the executives, managers or departments they support.

Be open to the possibility that the Administration Usage Profile workers will continue to use a legacy PBX for voice communications even as many of the other profiles move to new types of communications tools.

1US Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 11b.

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