What is an office?

The office is the centre of all business activities, whether it is located in one room or several rooms, and needs a certain amount of information in order to function properly. The office acts as an intermediary between the public and the organisation.

The role of the office in relation to:

1. Production

Production is a combination of factors – land, labour, capital and enterprise – to create goods and services in order to satisfy consumer needs.

In the production of goods and services, machinery has to be bought, personnel has to be recruited and paid, and materials will have to be bought locally or from overseas. All these activities generate a great deal of information.

Functions of the production department

The functions of the production department include ensuring that goods are not only produced but that they conform to an acceptable quality standard. This standard is maintained by quality control. The production department must liaise with the purchasing department so that the correct quantity and quality of raw material is purchased.

2. Distribution

When goods are produced, they must be distributed to the consumer. Distribution entails transporting the finished product. The method of distribution will depend on the nature of the product, that is, whether it is bulky or if it is perishable. It is important for you to be conversant with the channels of distribution.

Channels of distribution

producer – agent – distributor – wholesale – retail – consumer

3. The exchange of goods and services

In the exchange of goods and services, money is used as a medium of exchange in the process of buying and selling. An article sold for cash is an example of an exchange of goods for money. On the other hand, the dressmaker and the hairdresser charge a fee for services rendered.

Office activities generated by the exchange of goods and services include:

* Preparing sales slips
* Writing cheques
* Preparing receipts
* Making ledger entries.

The office worker employed in the production, distribution and exchange of goods and

services departments must be able to:

* Prepare orders for raw material
* Prepare sales invoices
* Prepare accounting statements
* Demonstrate good communication skills
* Exercise good interpersonal relationships.

Functions of an office

Functions common to both large and small organizations include:

* Issuing instructions to departments regarding projects
* Filing all essential documents carefully so that they can easily be retrieved
* Implementing all statutory laws and policies governing the kind of business and its activities
* Using reports as a means of evaluating feedback systems
* Controlling the financial activities to make sure that funds are always available
* Hiring staff and ordering stationery.

For the effective running of a business, communication must be conveyed properly, hence it is important for:

Collecting of information

1 External collection – Information may be collected by general means. For example, an individual may telephone a company to request information on its products, its line of business activities or to place an order. Written communication is received via the post office or the Internet. In today’s modern world, the use of computers enable organisations to collect information quickly and in great volume.

2 Internal collection – In a large organisation there are several departments which deal with many aspects of the business activities. Information from one department must be communicated to another within the organisation so that decisions can be made. The collection of information internally in an organisation is effected by person to person and through written communication, for example memoranda, routing slips and so on.

Processing information Where there are many departments dealing with different aspects of the organisation, the data received must be distributed in such a way that each department is supplied with the information concerned with the operation of that department. The relevant information must be arranged in a form in which it can be interpreted. The following steps are taken when processing a document:

* Sorting the information received
* Extracting the relevant facts
* Arranging the document/s for classification
* Interpreting the document for decision making
* Routing through various department heads for execution.

All this processing of information may be performed manually, mechanically or electronically.

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